With festive season fast approaching, it’s time to make your own preserves for sugar free Christmas baking. To make 2 ingredients orange marmalade with honey as a sweetener, was not an easy task of simply applying sugar to honey ratio to the regular thick orange marmalade, I make with sugar. Unexpectedly, the use of organic fruit, added its own challenges.
I like my orange marmalade to have deep intense flavour, and to be quite thick, either to have as a spread, or use in baking. I also make my own orange peel for baking and decorating purposes. When I started to develop recipes for sugar free baking products, making sugar free orange marmalade and peel became a necessity. Making marmalade from whole oranges including peel, calls for an option to use organic fruits for people with nutritional sensitivities, to minimise possible chemical contamination coming from agricultural practises.
You need only 2 ingredients – oranges and honey, or any other sweetener of your choice. I wanted to make a small portion of orange marmalade and peel, so I used 4 organic oranges and 450g of organic honey. Weight of orange flesh and orange skin below are based on medium size oranges I had.
- 400g whole oranges, cut in chunks
- 260g orange flesh, diced
- 200ml water
- 350-400g honey, depends on orange sweetness
- thoroughly wash and dry 4 oranges
- cut 2 whole oranges with skin on in 2-3cm pieces
- peel 2 remaining oranges, put the peel aside, cut orange flesh in the same size pieces
- collect any juices from cut oranges
- place whole orange chunks, orange flesh pieces and orange juice in either stainless steel or non-stick ceramic sauce pan
- add water to just cover diced oranges
- cook on low heat for 60min until orange skin is soft and translucent
- use stick blender to homogenise cooked orange pieces, make texture either coarse or fine as you wish
- add honey and cook on low heat for 15min, constantly stirring
- place 1 tea spoon of marmalade on the plate, let it cool and check the consistency; it will have the consistency of soft spread
- for thicker marmalade continue cooking for another 10-15min, or transfer marmalade into a deep Pyrex glass bowl and cook for 7-10min in microwave on high; this will give the thick consistency of marmalade, perfect for toasts and useful in baking jam biscuits, layering cakes or tarts
- place hot marmalade in clean glass jars, cover with a lid and let it reach room temperature. Keep refrigerated after opening.
- 80g orange peel, chopped
- 200g water
- 100g honey
- 2 table spoons orange juice
- separate white layer of orange peel from the skin itself
- cut orange peel depending on the way you plan to use it (long strips for cake decorating, small pieces to use in fruit cakes, or use vegetable peeler to make thin wide strips)
- place orange peel in appropriate size sauce pan, add orange juice, honey and water
- cook on a low heat for 25-30min, until there is no liquid left; taste the peel, if it is still too hard, add little water and continue cooking until no water is left in the pan
- place orange peel in clean glass jar while still hot, cover with lid, refrigerate after opening
I use three types of orange peel. When I need it for fruit or sultana cakes, I chop and cook it in small pieces. It speeds up the cooking process and eliminates the necessity to chop the peel before use.
It also comes handy when a lot of orange peel is used to make orange walnut layer in strudels. When I make no added sugar version of my strudels, I use my own orange peel made with honey.
For decoration purposes I make thick or thin strips of orange peel, which I store in air tight container.
With so many people now completely avoid refined sugar or trying to minimise its intake, home-made orange preserves come very handy. They are easy to make, they have only 2 ingredients, no added preservatives or even pectin. These preserves have lower sweeteners content, compared to low sugar jams and spreads. The choices of sweeteners are abundant, with different natural syrups providing variety of flavours.
In my experience so far, organic oranges were less sweet and had more dense and tough skin. As a result, it took longer to cook organic oranges, compared to regular ones, and it was necessary to use larger quantities of honey to balance sour and bitter components in their flavour. I can only make one conclusion, that organic oranges I bought on several occasions, were harvested when not fully ripe, with the sweetness not fully developed. Taste your oranges first, and adjust cooking time and sweetener quantity if needed. When working with sugar, it might be necessary to add minimal sugar quantity first, check the taste, and make adjustments. It has to be considered even more, when using different types of honey with varying sweetness. The same goes for other natural sweeteners.
Orange marmalade and orange peel jars can be made into beautiful and enjoyable Christmas presents with the minimum effort.