When Life Hands You Too Many Tangerines – Make Tangerine-Ginger Vanilla-Bean Marmalade

I had the best intentions when I bought a 5-pound Cutie box of Clementine tangerines. Round, colorful snacks to toss in the car when I’m driving around. Compact balls of vitamin C.

I ate just two. The rest sat in the bottom of my refrigerator’s produce bin inside its mesh bag – for weeks, long past when they would have tasted very good. I do that with apples sometimes, too.

I hate feeling food guilt. Waste not whine not. I adapted my orange marmalade recipe for the tanerines. 

 But I cannot leave a recipe alone. So when I was adding the sugar, I reached for my jar of vanilla sugar, a container in which I’ve embedded a bunch of vanilla beans, so they’ll flavor the sugar. But those beans had been in there a while, so long that they were hard and shriveled. So I dumped all the vanilla beans in with the tangerines. After that, I needed a little something to balance out the vanilla beans, so I added some candied ginger.

That did it. Perfectly delicious.

Now, what to do with a vat of Tangerine-Ginger, Vanilla-Bean Marmalade?

Spread it on toast or crumpets or English muffins. Or spread it on chicken before cooking, or let your imagination go wild and put the marmalade on something else, like ice cream or pound cake.

But most of all, I’d use jars of this gorgeous golden marmalade as Gifts, of course. I suggest you buy the smaller, 4-ounce canning jars. A little marmalade goes a long way (and you’ll have more to give away, and keep for yourself).

Doni’s Tangerine-Ginger Vanilla-Bean Marmalade

5 pounds tangerines, seeded
2 lemons, seeded
10 cups water
4 vanilla beans, split lengthwise and crosswise
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pureed candied ginger (or finely chopped)
7 cups sugar

Either thinly slice the fruit, or chop it in batches in a food processor – enough to turn the lemons and tangerines into smaller pieces. Transfer the citrus to a large bowl, or a large stainless steel stock pot.

Cover the tangerines and lemons with the water. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and let the mixture stand at room temperature for 24 hours. 

Pour the mixture into a large, non-reactive pot and put it on the stove over medium heat. Scrape in the seeds from vanilla beans and toss the beans into the pot, too. 

Add the salt and ginger. Allow the mixture to come up to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently until the rinds are tender, the fruit begins to fall from rind and the  marmalade turns a translucent hue. Stir occasionally, about 1 to 1 1/2  hours.

Remove from the heat. Add sugar; stir until sugar dissolves. Boil gently until mixture is 210 degrees, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour and a half.

Fish out the vanilla beans and cut into 2-inch-long pieces and set aside. Divide the boiling hot marmalade into the jars and sink a mall piece of vanilla bean into each jar of  marmalade.

Cover with jar likds and refrigerate for up to two months, or process in a hot-water bath according to usual canning procedures to preserve.

Makes about two dozen 4-ounce jars of marmalade (or 1 dozen, 8-ounce jars).

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Chamberlain was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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14 Responses

  1. Avatar EasternShastaCounty says:

    The tangerines and lemons are seeded but not peeled?

  2. Avatar Mark C says:


    You've listed "1 teaspoon salt" twice??

  3. Avatar AJ says:

    My brothers used to ask for "the orange Mama laid." They tho't it was hilarious . .. . my mother didn't!

  4. Avatar Leslie says:

    I have so missed your recipes and food writing at the Searchlight, Doni! You have such a great finger on the pulse of REAL Cooking!! The minute I read your story, I laughed, because I, also, has that 5 lb bag of tangerines in my fridge. I get them every year, and I, also, had the same intentions with the same results. NOT THIS YEAR!! Yesterday, I made 19 pints of tangerine marmelade! Yummy!!! I added honey and fresh nutmeg to mine. Turned out wonderful. Thanks for the inspiration.

  5. Avatar Cherry says:

    Sounds delicious! What a great 'rainy day' project for tomorrow. Thanks, Doni. I guess it means a trip to the store, though. We seem to go through our tangerines in a hurry.

  6. Avatar Cherry says:

    I have to 'fess up..I just canned a beautiful batch of Tangerine-Ginger Vanilla Bean…Syrup.

    Since it is delicious, throwing it out is not an option. I went on the internet to see what I did wrong and if I could fix it and apparently I either cooked it too long or not long enough. Being my first time to make marmalade, I really should have read some of these hints 'first'. I think I'll just make some nice little labels that include different uses for 'Tangerine-Ginger Syrup'. Aw cooking…the great humbler. Maybe we'll have French toast for dinner.

    • Oh, Cherry, you've just written words that make my heart sink. I am so sorry your recipe didn't turn out.

      I must say, my marmalade isn't like the really thick store-bought stuff, either, and it's pretty runny … more like thickened syrup.

      If you've not canned it yet, I think my inclination would be to put it in the fridge in a big container, and then collect some more citrus and then make a batch that has one fourth of the water … once it's cooked I'd add it to the thin batch.

      But that's just me. I have a Depression mentality and I'm loathe to throw away anything, even the cooking flops.

      If this just seems like too much heartache, then yes, it will make a delicious sauce for waffles, pancakes and ice cream. Ooh. I'll bet if you add some rice vinegar it would be great on a salad, or drizzled over avocado.

      (Readers, did anyone else make this recipe with – <gulp> – similar results? Or, have you had this happen to you, and, if so, do you have suggestions for Cherry?)

  7. Avatar Louise says:

    Would an addition of apples, with their natural pectin, be helpful? Or perhaps just one of the several available varieties of pectin without having the apples to deal with?

    This was my grandmother's standard way of salvaging a preserved-fruit batch (jam, jelly, marmalade) which had failed to "jell."

    Yes! We, too, always loathed to throw anything out that was otherwise wholesome. As Captain Barbossa says in Pirates of the Caribbean, "Waste not…"

  8. Avatar Cherry says:

    Thanks, Doni. Actually a good learning experience. Unfortunately, I did can it , hoping it would thicken after it sat. However, I had a few cups too many for the jars I bought so I’ve had some to experiment with. If it has been canned, does that mean I shouldn’t re-do? I like your idea of making another batch to mix with. By the time I’ve solved this dilemma, I should know how to make marmalade. I may use it to make salad dressing tonight ( and it was very good on French toast). I may even save a jar or two in case I get the urge for crepes Suzette.

    • Cherry, I've canned stuff that I've later opened, dumped in a big pot and turned into something else. (Then it's called chutney.)

      I like the salad dressing idea. You could try to use it one jar at a time, in different combinations. For example, what if you put some in a blender, and whirled in some vinegar, and slowly drizzled in some olive oil … very slowly, while the machine is running. I'll bet you'd have a really delicious salad dressing.

      I like the idea of Crepes Suzette, too. Keep us posted, Cherry, on your various marmalade incarnations. 🙂

  9. Thanks for the recipe – I had a pile of cuties and some seedful tangerines that a parent brought to my class. The kid sate some but Friday afternoon I still had a bowl full. I've been obsessed with making marmalade recentl but hadn't used cuties before.
    One thing that is missing in this recipe is collecting the lemon seeds and some of the membranes and making a cheesecloth pouch with them and setting it in the mixture while it cooks. The seeds and membranes have a lot of pectin in them – not doing this may explain why Cherry had such a runny result. Also, less water should help. I only used 4 cups of water (plus all the lemon and tangerine juice that was still on my cutting board), and got a nice thick marmalade.