These marmalade confections of natural fruit and berry flavours are easy to make at home.
They are popular in Finland as Christmas time sweets.
60 ml thick berry or fruit puree, see instructions below
200 ml water
0,6 tsp (about 1,6 g) agar-agar powder or 6 g agar-agar strands
200 g sugar
(a few drops of lemon juice)
extra sugar for coating
For this recipe you can use fresh or frozen raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, apples, cranberries, blackcurrants, red currants, etc, or more exotic Finnish berries like lingonberries, bilberries or cloudberries. Even carrots may be used.
More acidic berries, like lingonberries or cranberries, make the most aromatic marmalades, in my opinion.
In picture on right: commercially sold handmade Finnish marmalade confections made with real gooseberries, cloudberries, strawberries, lingonberries and blackcurrants.
To make the berry puree, place the fresh or frozen berries in a small saucepan. Bring the berries to the boil, crushing them
with a spoon to release their juices. Let simmer until the berries have cooked down a bit.
If you are using carrots, first peel and grate them finely, then cook until very tender, almost mushy, in a little dash of water.
Using a metal spoon, push the berry pulp (or the fruit or carrot pulp) through a fine sieve to get a thick puree and to get rid of any seeds, fibres etc. Cover the puree and set aside to cool.
Mix the water and the agar-agar powder in a saucepan. If you are using agar-agar strands, they must be soaked in the water overnight before cooking. Bring the mixture slowly to the boil, stirring continually. After the agar-agar has dissolved, add the sugar and bring the mixture to the boil again.
Stir until the sugar has dissolved, lower the heat and let the mixture simmer for about half an hour, or until the mixture forms a sticky thread when dropped from a spoon. Depending on the size of your pan, the cooking may take anything between 15 to 45 minutes. Stir the mixture every now and then during cooking.
Let the mixture cool for a couple of minutes. Then stir in the berry puree, mixing thoroughly. Taste the mixture. If it is very sweet and bland, you may add a few drops of lemon juice to give some acidity to the marmalades.
Especially low-acidic berries and carrot seem to require this.
Pour the mixture in a small, rectangular or square pan. Cover the pan with plastic and transfer in a cool, dry place for the marmalade mixture to set. This should not take more than about one hour.
With the help of a thin rubber spatula, loosen the marmalade gently from the sides and bottom of the pan. Unmould the slab of marmalade on work surface or a cutting board. Cut the slab with a sharp knife in squares (see the picture),
or use some miniature fancy cutters to cut out various shapes.
Let the marmalade pieces dry uncovered for a few hours. Then roll them in superfine sugar. The surface of the marmalades is still slightly sticky, so the sugar will adhere to them easily. Place the marmalades on a tray and let them dry in cool room temperature for a couple of days, turning them occasionally, before
storing them in a tin.
You can roll the marmalades in sugar again after a couple of days, in case the sugar coating has melted.