Lavender Mandarin Marmalade

[ Equipment: microwave oven. For more information about the terminology in this recipe, see Low Temperature Baking: A Journey of 3 Paths ].

This delicious marmalade gets its “je ne sais quoi” from culinary lavender, the woody, spicey flavor merging seamlessly with the tang of the mandarin oranges, producing overtones of floral honey. This recipe was conceived first as a constructed ingredient for the glaze on a cherry mandarin rustic tart. It’s such a tasty condiment and worthwhile ingredient in its own right that I separated it. The base recipe is a fast microwave marmalade (adaptable to stove cooking) found on a number of sites on the web. Because it’s not “canned” for preservation, it must be refrigerated, and I make a fresh jar every few days, while my cache of oranges lasts.

The mandarins in the pictures below are murcotts, which are in season from February to April. Clementines may be the best substitute as they are virtually identical in size and are in season from November to January. A seedless tangerine could also work. The recipe assumes about 1 cup of pulp before reduction, but can be scaled with the available fruit or as desired.

Unlike many other recipes for mandarin marmalade, this one removes as much of the pith as possible before cooking to minimize bitterness. The process goes fairly quickly because the thin peels don’t have much pith anyway. However, without the pith, the marmalade won’t set as firmly, with a consistency more like that of a fruit spread. For those who want a firmer set, either keep the pith or try adding 1/4 teaspoon of powdered pectin to the pulp before cooking.

Standard microwave marmalade recipes specify an amount of sugar equal to the weight of the fruit. Four murcotts weigh 8 oz. I put in only half as much sugar and found it very sweet still.

The instructions for making lavender sugar can be found in the Gotta Have Heart Gobs recipe. I prefer lavender sugar to powdered lavender because the very light and tiny flowers by themselves don’t pulverize well in a spice grinder. A small mortar and pestle should have no trouble fine grinding the flowers.

Makes 2/3 cup or about 10 servings
– 60 calories per serving (1 tablespoon)

  • 4 mandarin oranges (clementines or murcotts, 2 oz. each – see text)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lavender sugar or dried lavender flowers

Method: Marmalade

Note: In the pictures below, an immersion blender is shown operating in a shallow bowl for illustration purposes. The mixture will splatter if blended in this manner. Use a deep bowl or blending cup instead.

1. Wash and dry the mandarin oranges.

2. Peel the oranges (reserve peels for next step). Pick the strands of pith off the outside of the orange fruits. Then section each orange in half and remove the pith at the core. Set aside.

3. Optional (see text above): with a spoon, gently scrape the pith off the orange peels.

4. Julienne the peels into long thin strips; then roughly chop the orange strips.

5. Roughly chop the orange sections.

6. Put the in a food processor or with an immersion blender, pulse the oranges 3 or 4 times into a pulpy mush (not a smooth puree).

7. Add the orange peels and pulse 2 or 3 times to combine and shred the peels a little.

8. Mix in the sugar and lemon juice.

9. Mix in the lavender sugar. For lavender flowers, finely grind the flowers in a mortar first.

10. Transfer the mixture to a microwave-safe bowl (a heatproof glass measuring cup in the picture above). Cover with a microwave-safe plastic wrap and cut a small slit in the wrap to vent steam.

11. Microwave the mixture on HIGH for 4 minutes. Remove, uncover and stir. Recover and microwave for another 4 minutes or until the mixture has thickened and reduced to about 2/3 cup (from a starting volume of 1 cup). The times apply to an 800W microwave oven.

12. Cool and spoon into a jar. Serve or cover and keep refrigerated.


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