My Vanilla Brandy Tangerine Jam Recipe is ‘beginner easy’ and makes a lovely Spring gift for giving or for your personal indulgence!
All images and text ©Jenny DeRemer for Not Entirely Average, LLC
Vanilla Brandy Tangerine Jam Recipe
I began making marmalades and jams last year. Before then, it was grocery store purchased jellies and curds all the way.
But with the help of my neighbor and her crazy giant bumper crop of Kumquats, I attempted to create foods I had never attempted before. The end result was Heavenly.
Today’s method for homemade tangerine marmalade recipe is BIG little marmalade that’ll enhance everything toasted or baked.
The process I am sharing requires no formal canning experience. If I can do it, so can YOU!
Do You Have What’s Needed to Whip Up My Vanilla Brandy Tangerine Jam Recipe? Check The List!
- whole tangerines or other citrus such as whole clementines, whole oranges, or whole kumquats
- granulated sugar
- a vanilla bean
- a cinnamon stick or cinnamon sticks if you wish to emphasize the flavor
How This Recipe Came About…
There is truly a first time for everything. Never would I have thought of myself as diving headlong into marmalade recipes or putting together an end-of-summer batch of Peach Strawberry and Maple Jam…but I did!
My neighbor has a single kumquat tree with a yield to feed the masses. She offered me some, and the obsession began.
I researched my mom’s old canning guides and then compared the methods against my findings on the internet. Boy oh boy have methods for formal canning processes come a long way!
But the uniqueness of this method is that while it does require the filled jars process in a boiling water bath, it’s a short 10 minute bath. They’re removed from the water onto layers of pretty kitchen towels while awaiting the seals to sound off their proverbial ‘POP!’
It wasn’t until my friend Steven’s mom requested her third jar of the stuff that I was convinced I’d produced winning jars of deliciousness! Homemade jams! ME!!!
What Is the Difference Between Jam and Marmalade?
Jam and marmalade are fruit preserves that are very similar to each other, and their production processes are essentially the same. To break it down, it comes down to the fruit itself and what part of the fruit is used.
Jam is made from any kind of fruit while marmalade is specifically citrus. In jam, the whole fruit pieces and fruit juice are boiled and then mashed or pureed and then reduced down in a sugar and water tincture.
Marmalade is also prepared using fruit and then cooking it in a sugar and water tincture, however the citrus peel, pulp, and juice are the only parts that are used.
So how then do I get away with calling mine a jam? I’m using the whole fruit, not just parts. And some will argue that removing the white pith, the membrane that adjoins all of the segments is NOT using the whole fruit. So…I use it.
I process the entire fruit and allow the mixture of tangerine juice and tangerine skin, the pulp and pith (white part), sugar, water, and especially the seeds, to macerate for 2 to 3 hours before finishing the mixture into jam.
What Kind of Citrus Fruit Can I Use If I Cannot Use Tangerines?
Any type of citrus with seeds or pits. You need these little buggers because they contain pectin, and pectin is what is going to aid our mixture into thickening up.
I collect them as I go through the task of cleaning and cutting up the fruit. They are bundled up neatly in a loose netting of cheesecloth and tucked in among the macerating fruit to release their pectin. The whole thing is Mother Nature’s pure genius!
So, if you have a tangerine tree in the back yard, go select the finest fruits from its bows. But if tangerines are not the way you want to go, consider seeded mandarin oranges, any variety of seeded thin-skinned oranges, seeded clementines, or even seeded kumquats.
You’ll need roughly 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of whole fruit.
Can I Use Canned Fruit for This Tangerine Jam Recipe?
No. Afraid not. If there is a way, I sure have not yet come across it, but I am mentioning the answer here because I know I will be asked.
The miracle in this method lies in the seeds, so in order to get those, we need whole fresh fruits.
What Kind of Equipment is Required to Make This Tangerine Jam Recipe?
There are some requirements beyond a simple wooden spoon in terms of having the right equipment before embarking on this project. Be sure to first put your hands on half-pint jam jars or other glass jars / Mason jars for processing the jam.
The way in which this recipe is written, you’ll need 4 half-pint jars. I doubled the recipe in my photos if you’re wondering why so many jars.
I guess I figured if I was going to try this, I was going to make the time it would take ‘well spent’ and get some product out of it. It was worth it to me to be able to gift these tiny jars to friends.
You will also need a very large pot, a candy thermometer, and a food processor. I use cheesecloth tied with kitchen twine, but if you have a food grade muslin bag, you may use it for the seeds and their part in releasing their natural pectins.
Lastly, you’ll need a sharp knife and a cutting board to work on. The process of cutting the fruit is going to be JUICY! Be prepared and have a wide non-reactive bowl ready to catch the juice when you tilt your board.
What Does This Finished Tangerine Jam Recipe Taste Like?
This tangerine jam recipe tastes like a lighter version of orange marmalade…a sweet marmalade, but creamy. Something that you look forward to spreading over warm toast or homemade waffles.
Upon first bite, you will detect nuances of the cooked fruit mixture like the vanilla. You can also see the tiny vanilla beans dotted in and among the small pieces of tangerine peel.
The brandy is more difficult to detect. I use an apple flavored brandy for this recipe and nearly all of my recipes which call for a brandy ingredient.
I like the apple brandy for this recipe specifically because it softens the bitterness of the pith which I choose to leave in. You won’t need much, only 1/4 cup, but it’s enough to make a difference.
This is the same process used for so many true English marmalades. I like to think the Brits know what they’re doing when it comes to things like marmalade and their intoxicating plum jam.
How to Make This Vanilla Brandy Tangerine Jam Recipe?
Preparing the Tangerines
It probably sounds funny, but you must wash the tangerines thoroughly. Remember, their peels are part of the finished product, so their cleanliness counts.
Cut the pieces of fruit in half, then each half into thin strips with a very sharp kitchen knife. The tangerine slices should be about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick at most. Add the slices to the barrel of your food processor.
As you slice, you’ll be juicing. Save the tangerine juice by tilting your cutting board into a large, wide non-reactive bowl when necessary.
Also, hang onto the seeds and definitely do NOT rinse them. The seeds are abundant with natural pectin and necessary for the setting or gelling of the jam.
I lay an 8 x 8-inch square of cheesecloth next to my board and pop the seeds in the middle of the cloth as I go. When I’m done slicing, juicing, and pitting, I gather the cheesecloth corners and tie the pouch VERY LOOSELY with kitchen twine.
Pulse the food processor two or three times once all the tangerine slices have been added. Then empty the processed tangerines to the large non-reactive bowl filled with the collected tangerine juice, some granulated sugar, about two cups of water, and stir. Tuck the pouch of seeds in so it’s submerged.
To this mixture also add a vanilla bean which you have sliced down the middle and opened to expose the seeds. If you want to scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean before adding it to the mixture, feel free. I do.
Tuck the bean into the mixture and if using, a cinnamon stick, too. I do.
Cover the bowl with plastic film and allow to set on the counter undisturbed for two to three hours. I go three.
If you cannot process immediately, it’s fine to refrigerate the lot overnight and start fresh the next day.
Sterilize Your Jars
Getting sterile jars is quite easy. You can sterilize the jars while the fruit macerates and not feel like you have to rush.
Add the jars right side up in a large pot and fill them with hot (not boiling) water. Then add hot water to the pot, submerging the jars by 1-inch.
If you have a boiling water canning container with a rack, use it. I am writing this post for the beginner who likely does not own a home canning setup, so if this is you, grab sturdy kitchen tongs.
Lay kitchen towels alongside your stove so the jars have a ‘spot’ to dry and cool once they’re clean. Bring the pot of water with the water-filled jars to a boil over high heat.
Once the water reaches a full rolling boil, begin timing, and boil the jars for 10 to15 minutes. I go the entire 15.
It’s vital that you sterilize the glass jars in any fruit or vegetable preservation method where the directions call for 10 minutes or less of processing time in boiling water. In other words, for this recipe, you cannot skip sterilizing your jars.
Turn off the heat. If you are not quite ready to begin filling the jars you can leave them in the hot water for up to one hour.
Use the kitchen tongs to CAREFULLY REMOVE THE JARS from the boiling water bath and set them atop the clean kitchen towels you prepared. To fill, each jar MUST be dry on the inside and this should happen once they are emptied of the hot water and set aside to cool down.
Making the Jam
Once the fruit has properly macerated and the juices have thickened, transfer the contents of the bowl to a very large saucepan. If you had chilled your mixture, it is important to allow it time to come up to room temperature before the next step.
Bring the mixture to a hard boil over high heat stirring constantly to keep the fruit and fruit sugars from scorching the bottom of the saucepan. Use a wooden spoon to stir the jam.
The mixture must boil for 25 to 35 minutes until properly gelled and when it’s reached 220°F on a candy thermometer inserted into but not touching the bottom of the saucepan. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
Fish out the seed pouch and allow it to cool before squeezing all of the liquid from it into the jam. Also remove the vanilla bean and further scrape to ensure you’ve gotten as much of the seed as possible removed and into the jam. Discard the pod.
Stir in the brandy. Funnel the jam equally between the sterilized jars leaving 1/2-inch space at the top. Stir to remove any air bubbles and wipe the rims of the jars clean with a dampened cloth.
Processing the Jam
Apply the lids and the rings to finger-tip tightness. Fill a large pot with fresh water and add the jam-filled jars. The water should come to just beneath the lids.
Bring to a boil and process the jam in the water bath for 10 minutes. Use the tongs to remove from the water bath onto the towels again.
Let the hot jars of jam sit on the counter to cool and to seal. After an hour or two, you may begin to hear a metal sounding ‘clink.’
These are the jars sealing themselves. This process isn’t necessarily fast, so allow it to happen overnight if necessary.
You will know a jar is sealed by looking the lid. If the lid appears concave, it has sealed. If however you see one or two that have not sealed on their own, those will need to be refrigerated and eaten first.
How to Store the Finished Jars of This Tangerine Jam Recipe?
Jars which have sealed properly should be kept in a cool, dark pantry for up to six months. Once opened, they must be refrigerated and eaten within a month.
How to Use Vanilla Brandy Tangerine Jam?
Enjoy spread over toast or on English muffins for a mid-morning treat. I especially enjoy this jam over my homemade buttermilk bread once I’ve sliced it thick and toasted it.
But this cheeky little jam is so entirely wonderful used in baked goods, too. Spread thin between shortbread cookies to create a shortbread jam sandwich cookie. Or dollop a teaspoonful into the center of a batch of thumbprints.
My dad’s favorite way to enjoy this? Drizzled over vanilla ice cream alongside a split banana and finished with whipped cream, chopped nuts, and a cherry for an old fashioned REAL banana split!
Vanilla Brandy Tangerine Jam Recipe
- sharp chef's knife
- cutting board
- 4 half pint jam jars with lids and rings
- large pot
- candy thermometer
- cheese cloth or food grade muslin bag
- kitchen twine
- 1 1/2 pounds tangerines with seeds washed thoroughly, halved, and each half sliced into 1/8-inch slices; juice and seeds saved
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 1 vanilla bean split and opened to expose seeds
- 2 cups water
- 1 or more cinnamon sticks
- Wash thoroughly and prepare tangerines. Add to the barrel of a food processor as you slice them. Cut an 8 x 8-inch square of cheesecloth and place all of the seeds in the middle of the cloth as you process the fruit. Save all juice as you process by tipping your cutting board into a large, wide bowl. Once the tangerines have all been sliced, pulse the food processor 2 or 3 times. Por the processed fruit into the large bowl containing the reserved juice. Add the granulated sugar, the water, the split vanilla bean, and the cinnamon stick IF using. Stir.
- Use kitchen twine to tie the gathered ends of the cheesecloth square into a loose pouch. Tuck and submerge the pouch filled with the pectin-rich seeds into the mixture. Cover with plastic film and allow the fruit to macerate for 2 to 3 hours, or until the juices have thickened slightly. It is not necessary to stir it, but I do so that the pectin distributes.
- While the fruit macerates, sterilize the jars, their lids, and their rings. Add the jars right side up in a large pot and fill them with hot (not boiling) water. Then add hot water to the pot, submerging the jars by 1-inch. (Lids and rings may be dropped into the boiling water in between the jars). If you have a boiling water canning container with a rack, use it otherwise you will need very sturdy kitchen tongs. Bring the pot of water with the water-filled jars to a boil over high heat.
- Once the water reaches a full rolling boil, begin timing, and boil the jars for 10 to 15 minutes. Turn off the heat. Use the kitchen tongs to CAREFULLY REMOVE THE JARS from the boiling water bath and set them right-side up atop clean kitchen towels placed beside the stove. The sheer heat from the boiling process will allow any remaining water droplets in the jars after being emptied to evaporate quickly. Ensure the insides are dry before filling.
- Once the fruit has properly macerated and the juices have thickened, transfer the contents of the bowl to a very large saucepan. If you had chilled your mixture, it is important to allow it time to come up to room temperature before the next step.
- Bring the mixture to a hard boil over high heat stirring constantly to keep the fruit and fruit sugars from scorching the bottom of the saucepan. Use a wooden spoon to stir the jam. The mixture must boil for 25 to 35 minutes until properly gelled and when it's reached 220°F on a candy thermometer inserted into but not touching the bottom of the saucepan. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Remove the seed pouch and allow it to cool before squeezing all of the liquid from it into the jam. Also remove the vanilla bean and further scrape to ensure you've gotten as much of the seed as possible removed and into the jam. Discard the pod. Stir in the brandy. Funnel the jam equally between the sterilized jars leaving 1/2-inch space at the top. Stir to remove any air bubbles and wipe the rims of the jars clean with a dampened cloth. I find using a chopstick to stir the hot jam keeps things neat.
- Apply the lids and the rings to finger-tip tightness. Fill a large pot with fresh water and add the jam-filled jars. The water should come to 1-inch above the top of the jars. Bring to a boil and process the jam in the water bath for 10 minutes. Use the tongs to remove from the water bath onto the towels again. Let them cool undisturbed for 12 to 14 hours. You may begin to hear a metal sounding 'clink.' These are the jars sealing themselves. This process isn't necessarily fast, so allow it to happen overnight, if necessary, on the towels on the counter.
- The jars have sealed correctly if when pressing down on the lids, they won't wiggle and will feel solid when you press on them. If, however you see one or two that have not sealed on their own, those will need to be refrigerated and eaten first.