Citrus Jams and Marmalades as Summer Starts: A Taste Test
While the heat of a new season is finally upon us, the fruit of that season isn't yet here in an adequate abundance for new jams, so when we took a tasting tour of new preserves a couple weeks back we focused primarily on citrus. The skin of citrus fruits is a natural source of pectin, and as pectin is the go-to thickener for jams, the density and consistency of citrus jams tends toward marmalade.
Here's what we found when we tasted jams from locals Robert Lambert, Happy Girl Kitchen, and We Love Jam:
Four Orange Marmalade
Medium- to dense- runny consistency. Flavors flow in a rapid succession from lightness, to sweetness to bitter, with modest tropical note as well. The overall flavor leans more to grapefruit than orange, like the lingering finish of a Texas ruby red segment with a touch of pith. A slightly cooked character comes through at the beginning of the palate. If you're the sort to do so, pair this with seared foie gras, while it's still legal.
Rangur Lime Marmalade
Thicker quince-to-fig-paste density. Lighter flavor to start, but it intensifies to the notes of pith and then a bitter-lime note. The orange color belies flavor. Again, a feeling more of grapefruit predominates.
Light and runny, like commercial grape jelly in texture. There's an exceptional flavor of PX Sherry that's distinct from any Quince product we've had. Flavor is almost caramelized, almost golden syrup. A great cheese pairing product. Very nice with Italian truffle laced Pecorino.
Blood Orange Marmalade
Mid sweet with huge chunks of skin. Modest mellow pith bitterness is a nice blend with the mid-sweet overall flavor. Not as bitter as Lambert's.
Big Sur Marmalade
Denser and chunkier with big, thicker, chewier chunks of rind that give more tooth but less pith. Nice flavor of blended citrus; bitta orange and the sense of some lime and grapefruit. The best integrated, least pithy of the batch of marmalades. A favorite.
Smells like pie, between cherry and mincemeat. The cherry flavor is dominant, to the point of totality, but I suspect the addition of the citrus, and its acidity, bursts the intensity of the cherry flavor as it presents so clean and pure. It's a classic chef's trick to add a bit of citrus or other acid at the end to lift up the flavors of many foods. Fun and fruity, but makes me think of fall over spring. A favorite.