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.
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:
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.
More Ways to Preserve Citrus
Looking for more ways to preserve citrus this season? Here are some of my favorite canning recipes:
- Salt Preserved Lemons
- Canning Lemons (3 Ways)
- Canning Lemon Curd
- Citrus Seed Pectin for Canning
- Kumquat Jam
hi, thankgs for the recipe it look wonderful, I want to make this but have a daubt about the seeds. Mines have lots of seeds, shoulI just puree them?
If you puree the seeds they’ll be hard little flecks in there. My oranges had only one or two seeds each and I just pulled them out. I’m not sure how you’d make this with a very seedy orange, other than diligent work pulling the seeds out ahead of time.
wrap squashed seed in muslin tie and remove when cookedlĺ
What happens if i cook it too long? Does it never jel up?
With this one, I’d guess it’d burn or candy if you cooked it too long.
Thanks for this recipe! I added the juice of 2 lemons and infused it with fresh basil and it tastes wonderful!
This looks like a wonderful recipe, am going to try it.
May you kindly convert the pounds into kilograms/grams.
So it has been simmering for 30 min and is not setting up! I used 12 pounds of oranges and 4 cups of sugar. Help what do I need to do now
So sorry we didn’t get to your comment sooner. Did it finally set up for you?
I made this about a year ago and loved it. I’m thinking about trying it with Meyer lemons instead of oranges this year. Fingers crossed.
That sounds very interesting. I hope you will share how it turns out if you decide to try it.
Can you freeze this jam for storage?
Yes, you can.
I love this recipe!! I used last year with the insides of the oranges I used for candied orange peel. I’m doing it again this year. Now folks get two orange gifts instead of just one, My mother would be proud,
Hi! I see that we peel the oranges without the pith, but do you add these to the puree? I feel like you’d get extra flavor, but I’m not sure if that’s the intention
You want to peel the orange and make sure that you are removing all the pith from the orange itself. It is not recommended to use the peel in this particular recipe. It could definitely enhance the flavor but could also negatively impact the texture. Oranges are also a highly sprayed crop so you wouldn’t want to use the peels unless they were organic.
Thanks for the inspiration to make this delicious jam. I used 2 🍊 🍊 and local 🍯 honey cooked in the microwave.
Thanks for this. Have just made it using oranges fresh from the tree (we’re in Portugal). Added some honey but otherwise followed the recipe as written. It tastes delicious!
Thanks for sharing. So glad that you enjoyed the recipe.
I’m disappointed with this recipe. I cooked longer than required and still couldn’t get it to gel. It’s more like a syrup with a bitter after taste. It was so sweet when I first blended the oranges but now I feel like I wasted a lot of produce trying to create this when it’s not going to be eaten.
I am so sorry that happened. It’s possible that the bitterness was caused by it being cooked too long. How long did you cook it for and how high was the heat?
Do I need to remove the membrane between slices
No need to remove the membrane, just peel and puree.
I’m really struggling to get it to gel… I’m not sure why. Any tips?
I have the heat on medium and it’s been almost an hour already .
Did you finally get your jam to set?
Thank You for the recipe! This is a great way to use up “fruit basket” gifts & I love canning & watching the snow fly at the same time. Nothing like capturing a bit of Summer during the Winter months!!
You’re very welcome. So glad you enjoyed the post.
Hi! I’ve made this a few times with great success. This last time, however, it took a lot longer to gel stage and I ended up doubling the sugar because it was so bitter. In the past I’ve made with just navel oranges, last week I made with Meyer lemons and navel and blood oranges (primarily navel). I’m wondering how it turned so incredibly bitter, and also why the gel took so long (1.5 cook time at least)? I can try to repurpose the jam in baked goods, but it’s way more bitter than in the past when I was able to eat with yogurt or on toast. Thank you!
Blood oranges tend to have a higher juice content than navel oranges which would explain the longer gel time. More liquid means a longer cook time. The main reason for bitterness in a jam is not removing the white pith and sometimes it’s just a bad batch of oranges. Did you happen to taste the oranges before you put them in the jam?
Thanks for responding! The total volume was 5cups purée/juice and the juice was super tasty 😀 i cut the rinds off instead of peeling but can always do better! And maybe stick to just my oranges and not add Meyer or blood orange, which I suspect is what added to the bitter, considering the recipe has been a success before!
I would suspect that you are correct since that is the only thing that you changed.
Can’t believe how it is
This sounds amazing, I absolutely love oranges and spice….can this be stored in the fridge after cooking without doing a water bath step? Thanks.
Yes, it can be stored in the fridge but it won’t last nearly as long in the fridge.
I’m regretting using this recipe! I’ve been cooking for such a long time and it hasn’t set up. 12 lbs oranges 4 cups sugar. I see in the comments that I’m not the only one. It looks like applesauce consistency now. What do I do?!
Did you start off with 12 pounds of oranges for one batch?
Yes- I found that I needed to bring it to a more rigorous boil for a while for it to set.
Can I replace the sugar with Stevia?Thank you!
You can use Stevia but you will want to use a low sugar or no sugar pectin like Pomona’s Pectin.
I used mandarins and mulling spices, it took a long time to cook down to a good consistency, but it’s fantastic!
That’s great. So glad you enjoyed the recipe.
Amazing orange jam! My husband loved the taste and sweetness! Thank you for sharing!
You’re very welcome. So glad you enjoyed the recipe.
If I use ground spices instead of sticks what would the measurements be?
I did a quick internet search and it looks like 1 stick is equivalent to approximately 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
I’m very confused. I followed the recipe to T and it didn’t set. I puréed 3lbs of peeled oranges and used 1 cup of organic cane sugar. I simmered it for about an hour and it was still very runny. After an hour I just gave up and put it into the jars. I also got 4 8oz jars not 2 like the recipe says. Im so confused why I got double the amount if I used 3 lbs of peeled oranges.
Did you weigh the oranges before or after peeling?
It was 3 lbs of peeled oranges
I think that’s probably why the recipe didn’t work out as written. If a recipe says “3 lbs of oranges, peeled” you’re starting off with 3 pounds of oranges and then you’re peeling them. It sounds like you had more orange puree than the recipe called for as a result which would explain why you had a larger yield and also why it didn’t have the correct consistency.