Chamomile-Citrus Marmalade + a Gin Marmalade Cocktail

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A note from Maggie

Jam on toast is fine, swell, but I prefer to whisk or stir a spoonful into my adult beverages. I’m tickled that my dear friend Jayme feels the exact same way.

Think about it: marmalade or jelly can take the place of simple syrup, and may, in fact, infuse an even stronger and more nuanced flavor into a cocktail. And it goes on toast too! That’s a win-win in my book, and in my drink.

Thank you so much, Jayme. This Chamomile-Citrus Marmalade looks a little like a field of wild flowers. In other words, gorgeous!

Jam is one of my favorite cocktail mixers, especially marmalade. Why? Not only does it bring a punch of flavor, but it also contributes tartness, texture, and sweetness, oftentimes tying the other cocktail ingredients together. Today, I’m sharing a recipe for citrus marmalade, and it has a fragrant, secret ingredient: chamomile blossoms.

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If you’re already a jam-maker, you are no stranger to marmalade’s requirement of extra, albeit rewarding, elbow grease. It’s also quite the rewarding experience. I thoroughly enjoy smearing thick, bittersweet marmalade over toasted scones or making an almond butter-and-marmalade sandwich with fresh basil leaves.

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Gin cocktails made with marmalade, especially with this flowery version, are something you have to try. A marmalade gin collins is a summer staple around my house. This particular recipe calls for a rinse of absinthe, which contributes herbaceous, licorice-like flavors to the citrusy, complex gin. Add a spoonful of chamomile-citrus marmalade, and you’ve got a tart, almost tea-like summer cocktail.

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I first made this recipe with dandelion flowers about a year ago, when I was forced to deal with a blanket of the yellow blossoms in my backyard. It was a beautiful way to make something delicious out of my weed problem. You can use this recipe as a base and substitute your favorite edible flower for the chamomile blossoms. Lemon verbena, honeysuckle, nasturtium, dandelion, or fennel flowers would be just sublime.

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Chamomile-Citrus Marmalade + a Gin Marmalade Cocktail

Be sure to opt for organic citrus, since you’ll be using the outer portion of the fruit. The rinds of conventionally-grown fruits harbor pesticide residue. If you can’t source organic fruit, be sure to scrub the exteriors well.

Makes: 4 1/2 pint jars

Prep Time: 90 Minutes

Ingredients:

FOR THE CHAMOMILE-CITRUS MARMALADE
  • 1 cup fresh chamomile flowers
  • 2 medium oranges
  • 1 large lemon
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 box Pomona’s pectin {see recipe for details}
FOR THE GIN MARMALADE COCKTAIL
  • Rinse of absinthe {optional}
  • 3 ounces gin {I used Aviation}
  • 1 ounce Lillet blanc
  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chamomile-citrus marmalade
  • 1 cup ice
  • 6 to 8 chamomile flowers, for garnish

Directions:

MAKE THE MARMALADE
  1. Fill a large canning pot with water and bring to a boil. This will take a while, so do this ahead of time, while you make the marmalade.
  2. Snip the chamomile flowers from the stems, as close to the base of the blossom as possible. Set aside.
  3. Thoroughly wash the citrus fruits and remove the rinds in big, flat peels, using a vegetable peeler. Thinly julienne the rinds, widthwise. Place them in a medium saucepan.
  4. Remove and discard any thick, white pith from the citrus fruits and chop the oranges and lemon into small pieces. Place the chopped citrus and any juice into the saucepan, as well.
  5. Following the directions on the Pomona’s pectin box, prepare the calcium water and add 1 1/2 teaspoons into the saucepan, along with the 2 cups water, stirring well.
  6. Bring the mixture to a boil and slightly reduce to a bubbly simmer, stirring for 10 minutes.
  7. Next, separately combine the sugar with 2 1/2 teaspoons Pomona’s pectin powder, stirring well. Add the sugar mixture to the saucepan, along with the chamomile flowers, whisking carefully.
  8. Simmer until slightly thickened, approximately 10 more minutes. Remove from heat.
  9. Sterilize 4 1/2-pint canning jars and lids. Next, ladle the marmalade into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace at the top of the jar, sealing with a lid and a ring.
  10. Carefully ease the jars into the boiling water bath and return to a boil. Process for 15 minutes, remove the jars, and place them on a folded towel to cool. Make sure the tops have sealed. You should hear them pop after a few minutes.
  11. Store the preserved marmalade in a cool, dark place and refrigerate after opening.
MAKE THE GIN MARMALADE COCKTAIL
  1. Take two coupes or small “Nick & Nora” glasses, like the ones shown here, and give them an absinthe rinse by pouring just a splash of absinthe in them to coat the glass. Discard the extra absinthe and set the glasses aside.
  2. In a mixing tin, combine the gin, Lillet blanc, lemon juice, marmalade, and ice.
  3. Shake extra well, double-strain, and divide into two absinthe-rinsed cocktail glasses.
  4. Garnish with the chamomile flowers.

Materials

  • 4 1/2-pint canning jars with lids
  • Pale green raffia
  • Vintage spoon

Directions

  1. Fill and process the marmalade according to the directions above, sealing well.
  2. Wrap a long piece of raffia around the canning jar, securing underneath the jar.
  3. Attach a vintage spoon underneath the raffia.
Photos styled and taken by Jayme Henderson.

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