Carrot Marmalade with Citrus Peel & Orange Blossom Water
This carrot marmalade with citrus peel and orange blossom water recipe is one for sunshine and a garden of blossoms in a jar. It’s my two favourite marmalades, carrot and citrus, combined into one and my marmalade of choice to make in autumn when new oranges and clementines, some still a bit green and sour, appear in the market. Bright orange colour, citrusy flavour and flowery scent, sweet with just the right amount of tartness, how delicious does that sound?
Carrot marmalade with citrus peel is really great to serve on buttered toast for breakfast with strong breakfast tea (with a note of Earl Grey if you like). But not just that. Think scones and clotted cream, or a naked sponge cake layered with a gooey, shiny and flavourful marmalade and decorated with fresh or sugar paste orange blossoms for a special occasion…
Carrot marmalade is a staple of Persian breakfast spreads. It’s usually flavoured with rosewater or cardamoms as carrots have no scent of their own. Quite often very thinly slivered orange peel is mixed into carrot marmalade too.
Persian preserves are often quite chunky and look rather like crystalised fruit in a thick syrup. Fruits like apples and oranges are often kept whole so one needs to cut the buttery and sweet flesh with a butter knife to serve. To keep the shape of some fruit, veg or blossoms they may be soaked in a solution of alum for a day or two. This results in a very crunchy texture. Whole fruit preserves like this are usually served as dessert.
Persian cooks are really obsessed with making jams, preserves and marmalades from every sort of fruit and vegetable imaginable. My childhood memories are filled with images of my mum and my female relatives in the kitchen busily preparing jar after jar of beautiful jams and preserves.
They usually offered little bowls of several different kinds of jam to guests after a meal with small glasses of tea and the breakfast table was never without sour cherry jam, children’s favourite, and whole fig jam, hollowed out Seville oranges or big chunks of citron peel preserve for the grown ups.
We make jams from all sorts of things: blossom jams (rose petals, orange blossoms, quince blossoms), fruit (stone fruits, citrus, berries, figs), vegetables (aubergine, cucumbers, squashes, black winter radishes) and even kitchen scraps (peel of oranges, aubergines, pink soft skin on pistachio shells, watermelon rind, etc.), you just name it.
Back to the recipe now. My carrot marmalade recipe is not complicated at all. The hardest part is probably waiting for the marmalade to cool and set to have a taste of its fresh, zingy flavours. If you are inclined so, for a festive occasion like Christmas you can add a splash of Cointreau, rum or whisky to the marmalade after it reaches the setting point but skip the orange blossom water. Adding liqueurs to marmalades is not a Persian thing to do but it works beautifully so why not?
You will need about 8 -10 medium clementines or 4-5 oranges to make enough peel and juice for this recipe.
- 100 grams thinly sliced citrus peel (white pith sliced off with a sharp knife before slicing)
- 1 1/2 litre water
- 200 grams carrots, cut in thin strips like the peel (or coarsely grated)
- 600 grams jam sugar
- 600 ml orange or clementine juice
- 1 tbsp orange blossom water (optional)
- Put a couple of small saucers in the freezer for testing the jam set later.
- Put the sliced peel in a saucepan and cover with the water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook for three minutes. Drain well to remove the bitterness from the peel. Taste the peel and repeat this step if it’s still too bitter for your taste.
- Put the cooked peel and carrot slivers (or grated carrots) in the saucepan and add all the sugar, juice and orange blossom water. Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to a rolling boil. Cook for three minutes, stirring from time to time to make sure all the sugar is dissolved. Skim the foam on the top occasionally. Lower the heat and continue cooking (about 20 minutes) or until the syrup is thick.
- Remove from heat and test the set by dropping a little syrup on one of the chilled saucers. After a minute touch the syrup with your finger tip and pull gently. If the syrup creases the marmalade is set. If not, return to the heat, cook for a couple of minutes and test again. Repeat until the marmalade sets. (if adding Cointreau, rum or whisky let the marmalade cool for a minute or two at this stage. Then carefully add two tablespoons of the liqueur).
- Let the marmalade cool and thicken a little. Stir through to evenly distribute the peel and carrot in the syrup. Pour into two small sterilised jars and seal.