Sunday, January 13, 2013

Persimmon Tangerine Lemon & Ginger Marmalade

Plate of English Muffin with Persimmon Slices and Marmalade
Persimmon Marmalade with Fuyu Persimmons

Recipe by Robin

‘Way back when during the winter of 02 – 03, when I developed this recipe, I gave away over 400 oz. of this stuff. All told I canned about 60 jars. I had only a vague recollection of my mother making jam, and internet resources for recipes weren’t what they are today. Basically, I had no idea what I was doing. Yet, with two giant Hachiya persimmon trees at my (former) home, I couldn’t stand for the fruits to go to waste. True that crows and starlings liked them, but their constant squabbling and wastefulness annoyed me. Especially when they tossed the squishy remains all over the yard, fence, and garden for you-know-who to clean up. After making 12 successful batches (and one failure), I could barely think of making persimmon jam the following year. Or any other year, until now.

Persimmon Pulp, Tangerines, Lemons and Ginger reflected in Large Jam Pot
Active (Flavor) Ingredients
Luckily, I’ve educated myself in jam making techniques recently, and realized that I could significantly cut down the cooking time on my original recipe. I also found out that it’s more correct to call this “jam” a marmalade. Both jams and marmalades contain fruit bits, but marmalades also contain citrus or other fruit rind. Although low-sugar, this marmalade is quite sweet because of the natural sweetness of ripe persimmons. I originally made this recipe using Meyer lemons, which are a somewhat sweet crossbreed of lemon and mandarin orange. Next time I’ll substitute (or add) classic Eureka lemons, because they’re more tart and will add a counterpoint to the sweetness of the persimmons and tangerine.

Bowl of Marmalade with spoon
Rare Find: Winter Fruits to Preserve
This recipe uses Hachiya (squishy) persimmons. I recommend that you taste and double-taste each persimmon as you prepare it to ensure that it’s perfectly ripe with no bitter tannins. Check out my earlier post for complete instructions. There is nothing more discouraging than discovering that one bitter persimmon has ruined the entire batch, after spending the time and money to make marmalade—except having someone else point it out to you. When in doubt, don’t take a chance. Use “iffy” persimmons in baked goods, not jams or marmalades. Or try freezing them, which reputedly breaks down tannins.

You can also use over-ripe Fuyu persimmons, separately or in combination with the Hachiyas. As long as the Fuyus are squishy, they’ll work too. You will need about 10 – 12 persimmons for this recipe. You can also cut the recipe in half.

Zester Simplifies Preparation
A couple of technical notes on citrus preparation: it’s a bit tricky to scrape the rind off a citrus fruit, then juice it. A zester will make the ideal size and shape chunks of peel for marmalade. A wooden reamer or something similarly aggressive will help remove the juice from the peel-less fruit halves. You could also try just squeezing each half over a wide bowl or cup.

Citrius Peel and Ginger on top of Foaming Persimmons in Pot
Add Peel & Ginger while Fruit is Foaming
I’ve made variations on this recipe, included below. Feel free to try them out or make up your own. This recipe relies upon low (or no) sugar pectin. A general-purpose pectin might not work. The alchemy that causes gelling is based upon a specific combination of sugar, acid, and pectin, so adjusting the amount of sugar or changing the sweetener might cause gelling to fail—though a persimmon sauce could be lovely over ice cream, yogurt, or pound cake. I used white sugar, but evaporated cane juice (raw sugar) will work as well. I let the fruit sit with the sugar and pectin for an hour to macerate if I have time. You can eliminate that step if you prefer. Just mash up the persimmons a bit more with a potato masher.

If you’re new to making jams and marmalades, see my Tools & Tips below. Warning: jam making can become habit-forming.

Four 8 oz. Jars and a 4 oz. dish of Marmalade
Half Recipe Makes This Much
Persimmon-Tangerine-Lemon-Ginger Marmalade
makes ~28 oz.

6 cups ripe persimmon pulp
1½ packages low sugar pectin
4½ cups sugar
3 tangerines
2 lemons
2½ tbsp. peeled, chopped ginger

Sterilize clean jars by boiling in water for 20 minutes. This recipe makes about five 12 oz. jars plus one 8 oz. jar; or eight 8 oz. jars plus one 4 oz. jar (or 4 oz. for immediate consumption). Boil an extra jar in case you need it. Remove jars with jar lifter and let drain inverted until dry. Put washed lids into a bowl and cover with hot water from the pot.

Put 2 saucers into freezer. You’ll use these later to test whether marmalade has gelled.

Prepare Hachiya persimmon pulp, being sure to use only fruits that have no tannin taste.  See detailed instructions here. You can also use soft (over-ripe) Fuyu persimmons. Crush fruit with hand-held potato masher.

Use a zester to grate the tangerine and lemon peel. You should have about 4 tablespoons. Cut tangerines and lemons in half and use wooden reamer or similar devise to extract juice from each half. Strain out seeds. You should have about ½ - 2/3 cup.

In a deep 8-quart pot, mix low-sugar pectin together thoroughly with sugar, crushing all lumps. Add persimmon pulp and citrus juices and stir to blend. Let it sit to allow fruit to macerate for 1 hour. Crush fruit again with hand-held potato masher.

Heat mixture over medium high heat till boiling, stirring constantly, about 10 minutes. Add citrus peels and ginger. Heat and stir as mixture boils up and persimmons release air bubbles. Cook and stir until mixture stops foaming, about 5 minutes.

When foaming subsides, turn heat to high. Stir constantly until gel point is reached, about 8 minutes or less. Test marmalade periodically: remove marmalade from heat, drop a spoonful of marmalade on a chilled plate, return it to the freezer for a minute, and see if it stays in a blob when plate is tilted. If it doesn’t stay together, or runs in rivulets, keep boiling!

When test indicates that marmalade is gelled, remove pot from heat and fill pre-sterilized jar using a ladle and jam funnel. Fill to ¼ inch from jar top. Wipe rim of jar with damp cloth. Pick up sterilized lid with lid lifter, and shake off water. Cap jar with lid. Screw on ring gently, using only one finger--don’t screw on tight! Air will release during hot water processing. 

Process jars in a hot water bath for 8 (8 oz jars) or 10 (12 oz jars) minutes. For best results, keep water temperature at 210 degrees. If marmalade temperature gets to 212 degrees, it can boil out of the jar and you'll have to reprocess. Use a digital meat or candy thermometer for best results. Remove from bath with jar lifters. Place hot jars on a towel—not onto a cold tile surface! Tighten up rings when cool enough to handle. A canning wrench makes tightening the rings a breeze.

Let sit overnight, or at least 12 hours. Check tops of jars to ensure that lids have sealed; lids should not “snap” down when pressed with thumb. If any jars have not sealed, either reprocess them or store in refrigerator and eat within 2 weeks.

Plate of Ginger and Citrus Peels, Cup of Citrus Juice
Vary These Quantities
Persimmon Marmalade Variations

Super-ginger: Use 4 tablespoons (or more!) of ginger. Try adding ginger 5 minutes later.

Super-citrus: Use juice and peel of 1 orange, 2 tangerines, and 3 lemons. You’ll use a total of ¾ cup juice and ~4½ tbsp. peel.

Art Shot of Citrus Peels and Ginger Being Dumped into Pot
Jam Making Fun
Tools & Tips for Beginning Jam Makers

A few tools make working with boiling pots of water and jam less intimidating. A jar lifter adds control when adding and removing jars from hot water baths. A magnetic lid lifter does the same for the lids. A wide-mouth jam funnel makes it vastly easier to ladle the hot jam into the jars without waste and burn hazard. I also wear oven mits when stirring hot pots of jam, and while removing jars from hot water baths. A canning supply kit is an inexpensive way to get all the supplies you’ll need.

Otherwise, you just need two big pots. The largest pot should be big enough to cover your jars with 2 inches of water and fit the number of jars of jam that you’ll be making snugly (you can add empty jars as spacers). This water bath is used both to pre-sterilize jars and to process them after filling with jam. An official canning pot has an additional rack, which makes it easy to load and unload jars for processing. This is very convenient, fairly inexpensive, and simplifies the processing, but I made jam for years without one.

The smaller pot is where you’ll cook the jam. This must be non-reactive; either stainless steel or enamel is best. I currently use a deep 8-quart stainless steel soup pot. Some jammers like a wider shallower pot, which cooks the jam faster due to more surface area. However, a deeper pot eliminates jam splattering out onto the stovetop—and the chef. 

A digital thermometer with a spike, like a candy or meat thermometer, helps regulate the temperature while processing the jam. It will save you endless guessing and do-overs. 210 degrees F. is perfect for processing, 212 degrees is dangerous because if jam itself boils, the jar might not seal. Very much below 210 degrees isn't hot enough to ensure safety.

 Happy Jamming! Feel free to comment with any questions.

Processing Jam with Digital Thermometer at 210 degrees
Digital Thermometer Helps Keep Temp Consistent


  1. I'm sure you're a pro at this--can these recipes be scaled down? I really don't need large quantities of marmalade (and I don't have any fruit trees) but just want to make some once in a while to use in recipes. I just tried making persimmon jam (or jelly) for the first time and learned the hard way about one persimmon ruining the batch.

    1. Hi Vanessa, yes most jam and jelly recipes can be scaled down or up. A smaller quantity will probably require less time to get to the gel stage, but if you happen to cook it a bit too long it will just get firmer. Since this marmalade is pretty soft to begin with, that shouldn't be an issue with this particular recipe.

      If you're using the canning/hot water bath processing, be sure to fill the jars to 1/4" from the top and process for the same amount of time you'd process a larger batch (8-10 min., details above). With a smaller quantity you might consider the refrigerator jam option (officially keeps for 2 weeks, but I've kept it longer if it will be re-boiled/used in cooking). You could also try freezing a smaller batch, after it has cooled down to refrigerator temp. Have fun with it!

  2. Thank you Robin! I'm going to give this another try; if I wanted to use only persimmons and no other fruit, how much pulp do you think I'd need to make up for the loss of the citrus fruits?

    1. Vanessa, if you are canning with a hot water bath, you'll want to use enough acid ingredients to be sure that the jam is safe, ie. that bacteria can't grow. So do include 1/2 cup of lemon juice (or a bit more orange or a combination) in the full recipe, and scale it down when you cut down the recipe, but still include it. If you are freezing the jam and eating it within a few months, this acidity isn't as much of a concern. Be sure to eat any that is refrigerated (whether pre-frozen or not) within a week or two. As far as the fruit rind and ginger, I think you can make the recipe without them, without adjusting any other quantities. Have fun with it and let us know how it turns out. :)

  3. Hello again! My second attempt was much more successful although I may have overcooked it because it's now extremely thick. Still, it will probably be fine since I'm planning to use it to fill shortbread cookies. Thank you for the directions and advice. Happy holidays!