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Holiday Marmalade with Habaneros and Prickly Pear Juice

This entry is part of a series, Pepper Jelly Chronicles»


Citrus fruit of all sorts are available this season, in high quality and at good prices. Marmalade is fairly easy to make, especially if you’re a patient sort. I’ve gotten to where I make nice-sized batches of this spread, mostly for Christmas stocking gifts.

This year I happen to have a glut of prickly pear juice, thanks to an awesome summer for growing the unique fruit, and a fall that let them ripen slowly over many weeks. I worked up about 170 lbs of the thorny little bastards egg-shaped beauties, an experience that every Texan should have to endure at least once. (I’ve got that off my bucket list, thankfully.)

Most recipes don’t add much in the way of spices to their marmalade. Naturally, most marmalade is about the citrus flavor, and you don’t need to fancy up those versions. For the Holidays, though, I added small bits (less than half a teaspoon each) of several flavors that remind me of the great eats at the end of the year.


Here’s my version:

  • 4 lbs navel oranges
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 2-3 cups water
  • 2 cups prickly pear juice
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1.5 droppers Stevia concentrate (NOW Better Stevia is my choice)
  • 2 tablespoons low-sugar pectin powder (Ball works wonders)
  • 1/4 lb candied ginger
  • 6-10 habanero chiles, to suit your heat level interest
  • ground cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom

Slice the citrus thinly using a mandoline or a very sharp knife (if you’re handy that way). Pitch the seeds, of course. I cut across the thin rounds to make smaller bits of fruit. Place the cut citrus, 2 cups of water, and all the prickly pear juice in a large pot and bring to a boil (10 minutes or so), then reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook the fruit for 40-50 minutes, or until the rinds are nice and soft. Add more water if the cooked fruit looks to be too stiff.

Set up your canner and get your jars, lids and rings ready. I use half-pints, mostly, but use smaller or larger as you wish. This batch will make about 8 half-pints, give or take 1.

Put on disposable gloves and process the habaneros. I cut the tops off and leave the seeds; your choice. I put them in my small Kitchenaid food chopper with a small amount of liquid from the cooking citrus. I chopped the candied ginger into smaller bits and put that in with the chiles. Process the mixture until the desired consistency; I like to get this stuff down fairly fine, but with a bit of texture left.

When the fruit is ready, add the chile-ginger paste and stir to combine. Bring the pot to a hard boil and add most of the sugar, with stirring. Blend the pectin with the remaining sugar, and add to the pot with all the remaining ingredients. Stir regularly for 5-7 minutes, and test the gel set if you like. I add the pectin because I’ve had marmalade refuse to set well before; this little “cheat” guarantees the mixture works as jam.

Can as recommended. Half-pints usually only need 10 minutes or so in the boiling-water bath, pints a bit longer, to guarantee a safe seal. Or you can simply put the marmalade in jars with tight-fitting lids and refrigerate. If you do skip the canning, be sure to eat the marmalade in a few weeks! Not that there’s ever a problem around my madhouse with any going bad…

Enjoy the (Bittersweet Citrus Spread) Heat!

Entries in this series:
  1. Red Pepper Jelly Sunday
  2. Pepper Jelly Update: Anybody Got a Gas Mask I Can Borrow?
  3. Tag-Team Teaching in the Kitchen
  4. Lemon Ginger Marmalade, an Easy Spread to Make
  5. Yellow Inferno for Breakfast: Caribé-Habañero Pepper Jelly
  6. Lemony-Hot Jam, a Hybrid Spread With a Slow Burn
  7. Hatch Chiles and Lime, a Great Combo for Jam
  8. Jessica, Your Prickly Pear Cactus Jelly is Ready
  9. Hunting the Wild Prickly Pear in South Texas
  10. Prickly Pear Jelly Redux: Juice, Juice Everywhere…
  11. Charred Pineapple, Habañeros and Bourbon, a Great Jam Combo
  12. How to Push Prickly Pear Jelly Over the Top With Serrano Chiles
  13. Not Your Momma’s Marmalade
  14. A Jam That’s Just Plum Good…
  15. Peaches O’ Eight Jam, the Perfect Pirate Toast Topping
  16. Saint Basil’s Green; It’s Not Just for Breakfast Anymore
  17. Pepper Jelly Redux: Apricot Jam, Extra-Zesty Habañero and Serrano Jellies
  18. Pepper Jelly Sweetened with Stevia: It’s a Hit!
  19. Gardens, Gators, and Green Pepper Jelly
  20. Do Hairless Peaches Make Great Jam? You Betcha…
  21. Roasted Garlic and Caramelized Onion Jam
  22. Cinnamon Plus Heat Equals Magic
  23. March Madness, With Mangos…
  24. StingJam, a New Variety of Pepper Jelly
  25. Butter and Scotch? Not Quite; But a Great Jelly Nonetheless…
  26. White Flesh Peach Zingjam, a Refreshing Topping
  27. More Summertime Fruit Pepper Jellies
  28. Holiday Marmalade with Habaneros and Prickly Pear Juice
  29. Pepper Jelly Makes a Great Christmas Present
  30. Cherry Season is Here, and Cherry Pepper Jellies are Great
  31. Pepper Jellies and the Manzano Chile
  32. Singapore Sling Pepper Jelly! Now You Can Drink Your Toast…
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