Homemade Marmalade from Homegrown Calamansi Limes

Calamansi limes 

A total of 27 Calamansi limes freshly plucked from the tree in the garden

We have a Calamansi lime tree in the front yard. When it starts to bear fruits, we often can't really keep up, as there's only so much lime juice one can drink even on a weekly basis. Yet, if we don't harvest them, they would be left to rot on the tree and that's quite a sad thing to see.

So what's the best thing I can do other than making lime marmalade jam with it? This way I can harvest as many limes as possible off the tree and encourage new growth, and we can keep the marmalade in the fridge and consume it over time. If we can have orange marmalade, surely we can have Calamansi lime marmalade too - the tropical way and absolutely seasonal!

Adopting how orange marmalade is usually made, I have adjusting the ingredients and methods to what I have and how I like it:

27 Calamansi limes (the total I managed to harvest from the tree)
100g brown sugar (for those prefer a lighter coloured marmalade, can opt for white sugar)
3 tablespoons orange zest
Filtered water (enough to cover the content in the saucepan)

Yep, it is that simple an ingredient list, although the preparation is a little tedious.

First, cut all the Calamansi limes into halves and squeeze the juice into a glass, through a strainer or sieve. Save the lime juice and set aside - in the fridge if you're in a hot climate.

Dig out all the seeds and keep the seeds in a tea ball strainer, set aside for later.

Calamansi seeds in a tea ball strainer

If you do not have a tea ball strainer, a clean tea filter bag or muslin bag would do too.

Calamansi seeds in a tea filter bag

Next, thinly slice the Calamansi lime skins. Some prefer it chunky but I do like them in finer strips, and since the rinds are very thin and soft, I have included every bit of each lime.

Thinly sliced Calamansi skins and rinds

Finely slice or chop the orange zest and add to the Calamansi peels, if you're doing it my way, i.e. peeling the zest off oranges as you go and keeping it in the freezer; otherwise, grate the orange zest.

Orange zest from the freezer

Place all the peels and the lime juice in a small deep saucepan, add in the filtered water till about 2 cm over the content.

Cook on the stove and bring to a boil on high heat, then simmer on the lowest possible heat. When the water starts to reduce and the peels have become soft and slightly translucent, add in the brown sugar. Carry on simmering and stirring constantly so that the sugar is properly dissolved.

Place the tea ball strainer (or bag) of Calamansi seeds into the saucepan when the sugar is dissolved and keep stirring till the marmalade is thickened. The reason I like using a tea ball strainer is that, it comes with a little clip hook which I can secure on the side of the saucepan, and I can remove it easily when I need to. These seeds will release pectin while cooking, as a natural gelling and thickening agent.

Calamansi marmalade slowly thickening

The time taken depends on the amount of water added as well as how thick the jam one desires, whilst more sugar added will also add to the thickness of the jam. Obviously, the longer it is cooked, the thicker the marmalade will become; but no one wants a jam that is not spreadable.

It will look pretty runny whilst it's still hot, but becomes thicker when cool. To avoid over cooking it, you can always test it. I like the BBC Good Food tutorial which is really clear and helpful.

When the marmalade is done, pour it into sterilised jars. When it's completely cooled, put it in a cool, dry place; or in the fridge if you're in the tropics like I am. 

Calamansi marmalade 

As I have only used 100g of brown sugar, it does tastes a sharp combination of tartness and bitterness but I kinda like that. For those who like it really sweet, additional sugar is always an option.

I couldn't find a jar with the right size to hold all the marmalade, these are my next best things.
Ah well, it's how good it tastes on the toasts that counts.

Whilst our list of jam and spread gets a new member, the Calamansi tree gets to be pruned and the used seeds went into the compost - almost zero waste!


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