A French chef who once worked for me made a fabulous marmalade from Tango Mandarins. His trick (learned from his mother) was to boil the mandarins whole twice and then cut them up and cook them down into marmalade with added sugar. I have experimented with this and decided that peeling the mandarins first and cooking the skins separately before combining with the rest of the fruit made a more flavorful marmalade. This same approach will make a Meyer Lemon Marmalade or you can combine Meyers and Oranges or Mandarins to get even more interesting flavors. This Marmalade is not like the bitter stuff you might buy in the store because the bitterness is mostly cooked out beforehand.
What I did was the following:
- Peel the mandarins and/or lemons and set the cores aside. (the Dash Go peeler is great for this)
- Cut the peel into strips about 1/8 inch in width and 1” long.
- Boil the peel gently for 10 minutes 2-3 times in fresh water and drain. This removes most of the bitterness from the peel. On the last boiling, cook until the skins are getting soft and somewhat transparent. (This might not take extra time if the strips are small.)
- While the peels are boiling, slice the core and remove any seeds.
- Blend up the core with a blender. (Some recipes say you should remove the pith but I just grind it up to add more body to the mix.)
- Combine the ground up core with the peels and add sugar to taste.
- Add pectin if you are going to use less sugar otherwise it will not ‘set’.
- Cook over low heat in a flat pan (so there is lots of surface to evaporate) until a sample gels when cooled off (about an hour.)
- Put it in jars for later use.
This recipe is open ended with no measured quantities so it will take some experimentation to get the sugar balance just right but I was able to make it work the first time even without pectin. The advantage to this method is that the core of the fruit is cooked a lot less than the peels and therefore loses a lot less flavor. Give it a try! The worst you can do is have Marmalade syrup that you can use on pancakes and waffles if it won’t gel.