Sugar Free Organic Orange Marmalade and Peel

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.

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Ingredients:

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.

Orange marmalade

  • 400g whole oranges, cut in chunks
  • 260g orange flesh, diced
  • 200ml water
  • 350-400g honey, depends on orange sweetness

Preparation:

  • 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

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  • add water to just cover diced oranges
  • cook on low heat for 60min until orange skin is soft and translucent

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • place hot marmalade in clean glass jars, cover with a lid and let it reach room temperature. Keep refrigerated after opening.

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Orange Peel

  • 80g orange peel, chopped
  • 200g water
  • 100g honey
  • 2 table spoons orange juice

Preparation:

  • separate white layer of orange peel from the skin itself

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  • 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)

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  • 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

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  • place orange peel in clean glass jar while still hot, cover with lid, refrigerate after opening

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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.

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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.

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For decoration purposes I make thick or thin strips of orange peel, which I store in air tight container.

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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.

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16 thoughts on “Sugar Free Organic Orange Marmalade and Peel

    1. So frustrating when I google “sugar free” and find recipes full of honey or other sugars. Honey is sugar.

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  1. How much does this make? I am thinking of giving lime marmalade as gifts, using what seems like endless limes from our tree. I think it is about 10 limes to equal the average 4 oranges. I’m guessing from the ingredients it would be maybe 3 cups (about 750ml)?

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    1. I think your calculations are about right, I haven’t made yet this year honey orange marmalade. From the sugar one I used 735g oranges, 2 whole + just flesh, added 350g sugar 20g honey and ended up with 2 jars one 400ml and another 200ml in size. 400ml jar has 467g of marmalade the second one I have already used for biscuits. I never worked with limes and do not know how much sweetness they need and how much honey they will take. Let me know please, how you go.

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    1. It is naturally occurring sweetener and in terms of energy it has the same calories load, but chemically honey is not sugar, it is predominantly the mix of mono- saccharides, and as such can be tolerated better in some people. All recipes in this blog are not created to avoid sugar as nutrient, but to use in the form in which it can be tolerated by the person this blog was created for. She can’t have any sugars, even natural and unrefined, but can tolerate honey and pure glucose, which we have discovered to our delight. It means that I can use glucose powdered form for baking. If you want to avoid all “sugars” fruits and berries are not a good choice either.

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  2. I’m on a quest to make a Paleo (grain, dairy and refined sugar free) version of Leckerli. I had this amazing treat when visiting Europe a couple of years ago. This recipe will help with the candied peel that is required. I assume the same process would work for lemon peel with an adjustment to the quantity of honey? Have you done it with lemon peel?

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    1. Yes I did, the same process applies. Cut the white part of lemon peel, heat to the boiling point and discard first water, add honey and some water and cook on low heat until the peel is soft. If there is no liquid left and the peel still appears to be hard, add more water and cook again. Honey quantity will depend on lemon type. Skin from some lemons, especially from home grown lemons can be not as bitter and acidic as from oranges. Always taste the peel in the process. Sometimes I had to add lemon juice during cooking process, because I discarded water twice and the pell lost too much zest. Beware that left syrup reduced in the process of honey peel preparation will become solid when cooled down, compared to sugar syrup at compatible stage which will still have the consistency of thick liquid.

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  3. I’m not sure why this is inaccurately labeled “sugar-free” when it simply isn’t. Sugar is sugar is sugar and just as deadly and evil when it is “natural” as from super-high fructose honey and high sugar oranges and their juice. This is severely mislabeled.

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    1. Hi Judith,
      Technically speaking, when considering generally used term sugars as soluble carbohydrates with sweet taste in their mono-, dimer- and oligomer chemical form, you are right. But using this approach will find you very few food products, both natural or manufactured which are sugar free. However, in everyday environment, term sugar is usually used to describe table sugar in its dry form, which is processed refined product – sucrose. Natural, unrefined sugars are usually specifically mentioned in recipes as such. Other natural sweeteners, such as different type of syrups or oversaturated sweet liquids, used in cooking and baking, might have different to dry sugars physical properties and behave differently. All this is of particular significance in recipes execution, and thus, specific allowances are made and understood in blogging community to distinguish the type of sweetener used in the recipe.
      The main goal of my blog is not a nutritional education or promoting any specific kind of diet or eating habit, fortunately we live in the society where we are free to make our own choices, with our own responsibilities for them. This blog is a collection of recipes developed for a real person, our family friend, with her specific dietary limitations due to serious heath issues. She can’t tolerate any sugars, dry, liquid, refined or natural. The only sweetener she tolerates well is honey, that is why honey was the only sweet ingredient in my recipes. Further analysis allowed me to make a guess, that I might try to use glucose – pure refined dextrose – as the source of the sugar in dry form in some recipes, where using the dry ingredient will make a difference to the final product. That is why for some time I am using pure glucose in my recipes when necessary.
      As to your point of all sugars being evil, you might want to consider that glucose is the primary source of metabolism in human tissues, and is the cornerstone in cell respiration, providing the energy to all human organs, and is crucial for brain function at any times.
      Sorry for such a long answer to your comment, but I wanted to make clear my position in using sugar-free term, appropriate and well accepted in culinary blogs.
      With more academic terminology there is no point to look for sugar free jams, there will be none, and I doubt that those with artificial sweeteners will be less evil for regular people without specific medical problems.

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      1. What a thoughtful, educational and polite answer to an unnecessarily snarky comment. Well done!

        I am looking forward to trying this recipe. What do you think of using mandarin oranges? We have a ton of them right now. The peel is very thin with very little pith (aka white stuff). I might just give it a shot and see how it works.

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      2. Hi Christa,
        I never had mandarin oranges, but the skin you describe will be even easier to prepare. Try the taste of the fresh skin first, and if it closer to that of a mandarin, than an orange, cook it straight with honey, without boiling it first in water to get rid of extra bitterness. I make peel on regular basis from oranges and lemons. Sometimes the taste can be too bland and just too sweet. Adding lemon juice rectifies it. Homemade peel is wonderful in baking, but if you do not have to ration it, gives any dessert extra flavour and texture. Perfect with amy mousse, ice cream, even panna cotta. All the best in your cooking.

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