As I’ve mentioned previously, For Xmas I picked up a copy of Mes Confitures by Christine Ferber. In her book the recipes are laid out by season, with the spring/summer/fall month chapters filled with fresh local fruits, while the winter ones tend to be filled with tropical citrus fruits that, I assume, she’s getting from the grocery store. I flipped to the winter section, found a fun-looking recipe made with clementines, and started cooking.
Clementine Jam with Cinnamon and Vanilla
Her recipe calls for 1 3/4 lb of clementine wedges, some thinly sliced lemons, some cinnamon sticks, and some green apple jelly (her hand-made pectin source, made from unripe green apples). I have powdered pectin, I’m out of cinnamon sticks after the xmas season baking rush, and I tend to prefer a more “American-Style” jam to the European varieties (stiffer consistency, smaller chunks of fruit). I changed her recipe to account for the realities of my kitchen:
- 1 3/4 lbs clementine wedges, pealed and separated.
- 3 cups sugar
- Dash of Cinnamon powder
- Dash of Vanilla Extract
- Juice from 1 Lemon
- Powered Pectin (I used 1/2 package of low-sugar Sure-Jel)
Take some care to remove as much of the white pith as is reasonable, but don’t go all microscope and tweezers crazy. Give the clementine wedges a rough chop and remove seeds. Add them, the lemon juice, cinnamon, sugar and vanilla to a pot. Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, put the mixture in a bowl, cover with aluminum foil, and toss it in the fridge overnight.
Strain out the syrup from the fruit, and put the syrup into the pot. Add some pectin (maybe mixed with some more sugar to prevent clumping) and bring it up to a full rolling boil. 221 degrees is your target for the jell point, depending on altitude. Check consistency. Since she was using an apple jelly instead of a thicker more concentrated pectin mixture I started small and worked my way up until I reached a good set. I ended up using about half the serving of pectin. Add the chunks of fruit back to the syrup and boil for about 5 minutes more. Ladle into waiting sanitized jars, and processed in a water bath for 10 minutes.
This jam, from the bits I’ve stolen so far, is very light, bright and cheerful like the clementines that I started with. The citrus flavor is very light and subtle, and there’s very little tartness or bitterness to be found. It’s got plenty of nice pieces of fruit floating in a slightly under-set, bright orange jam. I only made a small batch because peeling all those clementines and picking away the pith is a huge pain in the backside, but next time I’ll consider making much more. Next year when the clementine boxes start appearing in the store, I’ll definitely snatch some of them up to make sure they are as fresh as possible.
Some modifications I’m thinking about making to future batches are:
- A little bit of fresh cracked black pepper would help to bring some seriousness.
- Some cranberries, both fresh and dried, would add some color and a little tartness. Blueberries also might go well.
- Some zest, both from the clementines themselves, the lemons, or even additional oranges, might help make the citrus flavor brighter and more robust.
- Her original recipe calls for slices of lemon. Chunks of lemon and lemon zest may work better for me to give little tartness without the big slices and all that pith.
Overall it’s a great recipe, and I’m looking forward to making the next one.