Orange Marmalade or Compote With Vanilla
Oranges are my favorite fruits—fresh, juicy, sunny, and packed with vitamins. Lemons and limes come a close second, so it's no wonder that I like marmalade. Marmalade is not as popular here in Germany as it was in my home country of Australia, and I hadn't found one that I loved that was cheap enough to buy regularly. So I set about making my own.
I absolutely adore vanilla and knew it worked well with oranges, at least in baking. It turns out it works wonderfully in marmalade too! I've made this marmalade with Valencia, navel and blood oranges, and they were all delicious. The blood oranges had a slightly darker tint and were sweeter than the other two types.
Help, My Jam Didn't Set!
When a jam-making session went wrong, and it did not set, I was disappointed for a few minutes. But the taste of the resulting compote was so bright and delicious, I cheered up in no time.
The smoother, less jelly-like compote was absolutely amazing on pancakes and french toast—much better than marmalade! It also paired wonderfully with vanilla ice-cream, yoghurt, and semolina pudding (although not all at the same time!).
I have even used a few spoonfuls of the 'juice' from the compote to make orange mineral water and a tangy hot orange drink. Just the thing when fighting off a cold.
So, if your marmalade doesn't set—all is not lost!
But the lesson was learned: You need to use high-pectin jam sugar or jam setter plus regular sugar if you want to make a good marmalade—normal sugar by itself will not make the jam set.
Have you made a jam that didn't set?
- 6 medium oranges
- 0.5 - 1 vanilla bean, cut in half, lengthwise
- 125g / 0.5 cups sugar (for compote), (skip if you don't want a sweet compote)
- 1 Litre / 4 cups water (for compote)
- or 150g / 0.75 cups 3:1 jam sugar (for marmalade)
- 250ml / 1 cup water (for marmalade)
- I prefer making an orange syrup with the peel, and then dropping the softened orange peel from the syrup into the marmalade before it finishes cooking.
- You can make the marmalade with the orange peel left intact on the orange—usually, this will make it less sweet and more bitter.
- For thinner skinned oranges, peeling them first is a royal pain. For these, I just cut the oranges into 6 'quarters' then slice each very finely and dump in the pot. Much easier and faster!
- Some dishwashers have a sterilize cycle—perfect for making glass jars ready for storing jam.
- If including the orange peel, or making orange syrup or candied peel, cut thin strips from the oranges and lemon, making sure there is no pith on the outer peel. I find it easier to use a sharp, small knife, but my partner prefers a peeler.
- Cut the peel into long, thin slivers. Use a zig-zag pattern if you want to reach the maximum length.
- Cut the remaining peel and pith away from the orange and discard. The white pith has a strong bitter flavor when cooked.
- Slice and chop the orange flesh, discarding any seeds.
- Place the cut oranges into a deep saucepan, along with any orange juice that escaped while cutting up the oranges.
Note: If you want a more bitter marmalade, include the slivered peel at this stage, and don't make a citrus syrup with the peel.
- Add the water and vanilla bean, and cook on a low heat for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. The middle parts of the oranges should be very soft, and the juice full of flavor.
- If you want, add the candied orange peel from the orange-vanilla syrup at this stage.
- Increase the heat to medium, and continue cooking until the volume of liquid has halved, stirring regularly.
- Stir in the sugar (if making compote), or 3:1 jam-sugar if making marmalade. Cook for another 10 or so minutes, stirring often.
- If you are making orange marmalade, cook on medium for 5 minutes, then check every few minutes that the jam is being thick - setting. Drop half a teaspoon of the jam onto a cold plate or bowl.
- Bottle the hot compote into sterilized glass jars.
Serve orange-vanilla compote with:
- a slice of cake, especially angel food cake
- ice cream or yoghurt
- fruit cake or Christmas fruit pudding
- vanilla custard or pudding
- pancakes or waffles
- rock cakes, scones or fruit buns
- cinnamon french toast
- a citrusy semolina flummery
Or eat the orange vanilla compote pure, by itself!
Put a few teaspoons of the liquid part into a mug and fill with boiling water - great when you have a cold or the flu.
Use the orange vanilla marmalade:
- as a breakfast spread
- as a fruity filling between cake layers
- to glaze an orange cake (with a bit of hot water) or as a jellied layer topping a cheesecake
- to marinate and coat chicken, turkey or pork, that will later be grilled or baked
- on top of a fish fillet while steaming, baking or grilling
- Lemon and lime: Double the amount of sugar to offset the sourness, use 3 lemons and 2 Tahitian limes.
- Orange and lemon: Use 5 oranges and one lemon for a little more tang and bitterness. Add more lemons for a stronger lemon flavor.
- Orange and ginger: Peel and cut 1-2cm of ginger root into very fine slivers.
- Orange and rum: Add a tablespoon or two of rum while cooking.
- Orange and rosewater: This is an unlikely combination that is fabulous! Add a teaspoon (or several drops, depending on the strength) of rosewater to the cooked marmalade and stir before bottling.
Important: Remove any spices you use before bottling.
Orange and cardamom: Include 5 bruised green cardamom pods for a fine Indian-chai flavor.
- Orange and black pepper: warm and slightly spicy. Add 8-10 whole black peppercorns when cooking.
- Aniseed orange: Add 2 whole star anise pods when cooking.
- Cinnamon orange: Add a broken cinnamon stick when cooking.
What is your favorite fruit in a compote?
Compote in History
Originally a dessert in France in the 17th century, compote was made from whole or pieces of various fruits in a sugary syrup. This means that most canned fruits in juice or sugar syrups are actually compote!
Different seasonings and ingredients are added to the fruit and sugar to provide different flavors: spices, nuts, raisins or other dried fruits. Peel or coconut were also common additions. It also forms the basis of rote and grüne Grütze (a German pudding of fruits, sugar and starch) and fruit fools (pureed fruit mixed with sugar and cream).
Compote may be pureed before serving, especially if made from apples, pears or apricots. This is often used as fillings in pies and tarts. Eaten for breakfast, as a dessert or a snack, a compote is a tasty way to add variety to your daily fruit intake.
What would you serve the orange vanilla compote with?
Let us know in the comments below!