Orange jam has a warm and sunny flavor, and the addition of winter spices makes it the perfect wintertime jam.
Orange marmalade gets all the attention, but what if you want all the flavor without the peel? The sliced orange peel in a marmalade adds a hint of bitterness to balance out the sweetness of the jam, but at the expense of texture in my opinion. I’m also skeptical about using the peels of a highly sprayed crop, and organic citrus can be hard to find up here in the Northeast.
Orange jam is basically an orange marmalade without the peel, and warm winter spices help to add just enough bitterness to contrast the sweetness of the orange itself. Since the fruits are quite sweet to start, you only need a tiny bit of sugar to make an out of this world orange jam.
Any type of oranges will work wonderfully in this jam, each providing their own unique texture. Tangerines, in particular, have a lovely flavor, and a lot of sweetness. Clementines are a wintertime favorite in these parts, and by far the easiest to find. Keep in mind a sweeter tangerine may require less sugar, and a more bitter orange may require slightly more. Adjust to your tastes.
Start by peeling the oranges, removing as much of the white pith as possible. If the oranges are tough to peel, it’s perfectly fine to peel them with a sharp knife. It takes about 1 1/2 pounds of oranges to make an 8-ounce jar of jam, so you’ll need quite a few for a full canner bath. I’ve written this as a small batch recipe for just two small jars, using 3 pounds of oranges but it can be doubled or quadrupled to make as many as 8 jars of orange jam at once. Larger batches get a bit tricky, and may not gel correctly, so don’t start with more than 12 pounds of oranges at once.
Once the oranges are peeled, they need to be pureed. I use an immersion blender and puree them right in the jam pot. A blender also works well if you work in batches. Try to get a smooth puree, blending up the dividing membranes so the orange jam doesn’t finish with chunks remaining.
Place the orange puree in a saucepan and add sugar. Three pounds of oranges makes about 5 cups of orange puree, and I’m adding one cup of sugar to that amount. To my palate, it’s wonderfully sweet without being over the top. Feel free to add a few tablespoons of lemon juice to boost the acidity and add a bit of tart. Lemon juice is not necessary for safety, and oranges can be canned without any additional acidity.
For spices, I’ve added warm winter spices including cinnamon, cloves and star anise. Just one or two of each keeps it simple, and adds just a tiny bit of spice without overpowering the orange. Be careful not to use more than 1 or 2 cloves since they have a very strong flavor. Ginger and allspice would also be good spice choices. Regardless of what you choose, put them into the jam pot whole and fish them out before canning. Wrapping them up in a tiny bit of cheesecloth tied with cooking twine makes this really easy, or you can just carefully count them before you start and fish them out as the jam gets close to done.
Oranges have plenty of natural pectin and there’s no need to add pectin to orange jam. Some varieties of pectin actually use citrus fruits as their pectin source, so adding pectin seems a bit silly. Starting with just pureed oranges and a bit of sugar, it takes about 20-30 minutes for the jam to thicken. As it begins to visibly thicken in the pot, test a bit on a plate kept in the freezer and turn off the heat when it gets to the right consistency.
Fill prepared canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes and once the jars seal they’re ready for storage in the pantry. Alternately, store the orange jam in the fridge and it’ll keep for several weeks.
A simple orange jam captures the sunniness of citrus, and a bit of warm spice adds complexity.
- 3 lbs oranges, peeled roughly 5 cups puree
- 1 cup sugar
- 1-2 each cinnamon sticks, star anise & cloves (optional)
Peel the oranges, removing as much of the white pith as possible.
Puree the oranges with an immersion blender or regular blender.
Place orange puree in a saucepan and add sugar and spices.
Simmer the orange puree over moderate heat until it thickens into a jam, about 20-30 minutes. Test for consistency on a plate that's been kept in the freezer.
Pour the orange jam into prepared canning jars and either store in the refrigerator or process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.
Orange Jam Variations
With orange jam, there’s a lot of room to experiment. Try different types or oranges, add in a bit of peel to make it orange marmalade or mix it with fresh summer herbs for a unique twist. Here are a few of the best orange jam variations I’ve found yet: