When I was growing up, one of my very favorite holiday-time projects was making pomander balls.
My mom would put out a bowl of oranges and give both my sister and me small dishes filled with cloves. We’d use toothpicks to pre-prick the oranges with patterns and then would poke cloves into those spots. When they were all done, we’d roll them in a mix of ground cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and then set them around the house in small saucers.
They were time consuming, but I loved making them. Nothing smells quite so much like the Christmas season to me than the combination of orange and spice.
This year, when I started craving the fragrance of a pomander ball, a thought occurred. Why not translate those flavors into a jam? That way, I could enjoy the aroma while it cooked and then serve it with scones or pancakes throughout the holidays.
Like so much of the preserving I do, I make this one in small batches. It takes some time and careful knife work to prepare the oranges for jam and I’ve found that any more than four pounds at one time and I start to feel irritated instead of inspired. Small really is best in this case.
You’ll note that there’s no additional pectin in this jam. That’s because the reserved seeds serve to lend enough pectin to the process to create a nice, soft-set jam. However, if you prefer something a little firmer and less drippy, consider whisking a tablespoon of powdered pectin into the sugar before combining it with the fruit.
Finally, do make sure to seek out flavorful juice oranges for this jam. You want fruit with seeds for that pectin boost. Navel oranges are great for eating, but rarely have seeds and so won’t give you that vital ingredient.
You could also use mandarins or tangerines. Also, consider saving the removed peels and candying them. It’s a nice way to use the whole fruit!
|Pomander Spiced Orange Jam||
- 4 pounds juice oranges (about 10 to 12)
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Prepare a small boiling water bath canner and three half pint jars. Place three new lids in a small saucepan of water and bring to a simmer.
- Using a sharp knife, cut off the peels of the oranges. Start by removing ends and then cutting the peels of in strips, going just deep enough to cut away the peels and pith.
- Working over a bowl or large measuring cup, use a sharp paring knife to remove the sections of fruit, leaving behind the tough membrane. As you work, set aside any seeds you find. When all the fruit is removed, squeeze the membrane over the bowl to capture as much juice as possible from the fruit.
- When the fruit is all broken down, you should have approximately 4 cups. Combine the fruit in a 5 quart pot and add the sugar, lemon juice and zest, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
- Bundle up the reserved seeds in a length of cheesecloth, a spice bag, or a tea ball and place them in the pot as well.
- Set the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring regularly, until the jam thickens. Use an instant read or candy thermometer to monitor the temperature. When it reaches 220°F/105°C, it is done.
- Remove the seed bundle and funnel the jam into the prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for ten minutes.
- When time is up, remove the jars from the canner and let them cool on a folded kitchen towel. Once jars are cool enough to handle, check to ensure jars sealed. Properly sealed jars can be stored in a cool dark place for up to 1 year.
What are your favorite holiday scents?