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Note to future readers: this question was rightly closed as off-topic (too open-ended), but based on the advice below I ended up making a version of this grapefruit marmalade with cardamom, turmeric and ginger with the following modifications:

  • Added a couple of fingers of sliced fresh turmeric. If you choose to do this, learn from the mistakes I made in my first trial: wear disposable gloves and slice it on a glass board with a thick layer of disposable buffer (e.g. multiple sheets of clingfilm). I peeled mine, but I recommend just washing the skin as you will stain and clog up your peeler.

  • Ground my own cardamom. Not essential, but if you love cardamom I find that gives a superior flavour. Bust open the pods by crushing them with something solid and flat, fish out the black seeds and run them through a coffee grinder. (Haven't blind tested this, so it could well be a placebo effect.)

  • Made a double quantity and strained it through muslin or cheesecloth. You'll need a big pan, or make two separate batches if you want to play it safe. You lose a lot of the volume, but it's essential for a transparent result.

The result is a clear, shockingly vibrant yellow-orange liquid that might have a lot of sugar, but is dominated by a pleasant acidity, heat and pungency.

Thanks to everyone who suggested turmeric, which was essential for the perfect colour. If I'd had more time, I might have prototyped one of the more savoury recipes, and would love to hear from anyone who does. I'd particularly like to locate a recipe for the "JAP mustard" mentioned in the comments; the best I found was this one for "mustard custard".


In a couple of months, I will be attending a housewarming hosted a friend who is a big fan of Key/Visual Arts anime. In honour of this, I plan to recreate an infamous—albeit fictional—recipe: Akiko's special jam.

Two different perspectives on Akiko's special jam: in the jar in bright light, looking fluorescent yellow, and being spread under in normal light with a marmalade-like appearance

It would be silly (and rather cruel!) to try and reproduce the recipe from the show; this is left intentionally ambiguous and is known to be quite unenjoyable. Instead, I plan to make something which reproduces some of the key characteristics while remaining palatable.

Main goals

These are my objectives in order of importance:

  1. It must be suitable for vegetarians.
  2. It must be bright, vibrant yellow. (Gold/orange are acceptable but not preferred.)
  3. There should be no obvious chunks, seeds or discolourations.
  4. The consistency should be thick but largely smooth.
  5. Rather than appearing to be a thick puree, it should have the syrupy translucency of a traditional jam or jelly.
  6. It should be a novel but enjoyable accompaniment for a sandwich.
  7. Preferably, it should not be overly sweet—though I am willing to compromise on this for aesthetics.

Where I need help

The main questions I'm debating and would like some help with are:

  • What ingredients can I use for the desired colour and taste?
  • What type of preserve works best with those ingredients?
  • What techniques, tips or tricks could help me obtain the desired consistency and appearance?

I am a novice to jam-making and have only tried my hand at it a couple of times, so any ideas, direction or commentary will be very much appreciated.

What I've considered already

I will be trialling and refining recipes well in advance but would like to narrow down the candidates before I start experimenting. Here are some of my initial thoughts:

  • Yellow pumpkin/squash: I've seen recipes which get pretty close to the desired colour, though less jelly-like than I would prefer—and it would certainly taste interesting.

  • Yellow tomato jam/chutney: just the flesh without seeds may work well and should taste interesting; however, I'm unsure how well it would hold its colour and I'm unsure how hard it would be to get the right consistency.

  • Mango chutney: this would be quite sweet, unfortunately, but I've seen several recipes online that look very similar in appearance and texture to what I'm trying to achieve. Another drawback is that it may not work well on sandwiches.

  • Kaya: this would absolutely be sweeter than I want, but it is also delicious, unusual to Western tastes and can be made to look pretty bright. I'm concerned that it may be more opaque than what I'm going for, however.

  • Lemon curd: this would do in a pinch, but is still very sweet and a bit pedestrian.

  • Jam vs jelly vs curd vs chutney vs…: I'm keeping my options open about what sort of preserve to make, and am not sure which would work best.

closed as off-topic by Catija, Cindy, Megha, Ward - Reinstate Monica, moscafj Jun 28 '17 at 12:50

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Requests for recipe recommendations are off-topic; everyone has their own favorites. However, if you have a recipe already you can ask for help improving it - just be specific about what you want." – Cindy, Ward - Reinstate Monica, moscafj
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • I'm not sure this is really within our scope... I don't think there's one "correct" answer. I'm not certain it's that different than a recipe request. – Catija Jun 21 '17 at 5:52
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    Also... jam, by definition, is sweet. The sugar is what makes it safe to eat after long periods. That being said, I have an utterly non-sweet recommendation ... I don't know if there's a similar recipe around but my dad had a recipe for what he always called J.A.P. (Jewish American Princess) mustard. It's actually a sort of mustard custard... it has sugar, eggs, butter and vinegar and is made with powdered mustard. Amazing on sandwiches. – Catija Jun 21 '17 at 6:03
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    Is home making it, or having it, the key point? If storebought is OK, british style lemon marmalade (not the curd!) meets the "bright yellow and transparent" requirement dead on. – rackandboneman Jun 21 '17 at 9:54
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    I'm adding this as a comment since it's only a suggestion about the colour. Saffron threads can be soaked in hot liquid it gives a beautiful yellow with very little taste. – Jude Jun 21 '17 at 10:36
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    Listen to whoever recommended adding turmeric, maybe even fresh turmeric - it makes everything flouresce - be aware the color is slightly PH dependent. Also, annato if you want to go more reddish. – rackandboneman Jun 21 '17 at 18:33
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Okay, so I think the obvious answer is dandelion jelly. Yes, that is a thing that exists. You could probably safely add some other edible, yellow flowers (like chrysanthemums, maybe? or even some oolong tea?) and almost certainly cut back on the sugar, but that's a little more risky and will require some experimentation. I have added gelatin to my jellies before in order to cut back on the sugar without losing structure, but that will change the texture a bit.

I also googled "bright yellow juice" and found a detoxing "super yellow juice" that looks interesting without being gross. There's a picture near the top that is quite a bright yellow. That said, I don't know how the color would hold up to cooking.

This is their recipe (since you have to scroll really far to find it):

2 yellow bell peppers (stem and seeds removed)

1 rutabega (peeled)

2 organic golden delicious apples (cored and seeds removed)

1 Pear (optional -- it's sweeter with it, a little more tart without it...)

2 Lemons (peeled)

2 inches of fresh ginger (skin removed)

As far as jelly-making goes, if you start with a juice, you'll need to strain it thoroughly in order to get a clear-ish jelly. That will require cheesecloth and coffee filters and lots of time. For the cooking part, you need pectin and sugar to form bonds to get the proper structure. This means that you will need to add some sugar to your juice, and that once you have your juice/sugar mixture, you'll need to cook it until it reaches about 220F. That's when the pectin and sugar should bond up properly. Worst case scenario, you get some thick, gloppy syrup instead of what you think of as "jelly."

Lemons and apples are both good sources of pectin, so if you include those, you should have no worries about pectin itself. The rest is chemistry involving water, sugar, and acidity, which I am not an expert on, but the fruit itself should provide the necessary acidity, and cooking to 220F should give you the correct amount of water. As for the sugar-- what I know is that I have cut the sugar in jelly recipes in half and had no issues with structure. This has mostly been the case with cranberry sauce, which is super high in pectin, but I usually leave out at least a quarter of the sugar in jelly recipes with no issue-- sometimes I do get a gloppy mess. The gloppy mess still tastes good, though, so I don't worry about it.

But as I mentioned above, you can introduce structure with things like gelatin, agar agar, or other less familiar thickeners that don't require sugar to set up properly. I wouldn't rely entirely on non-pectin thickeners, for sure, since they tend to have an unpleasant taste in large amounts, but in reasonably small amounts it can help, and any taste will be covered up by the existing sugars in the fruits you use.

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Your requirements are so specific that I would say: don't search for some existing product which has it all, just engineer your own.

The simplest would be to take some base which is transparent and does not have a strong color in itself and whose sweetness can be varied. For example, make your own elderflower syrup with whatever proportion of elderflower and sugar you like for the taste. Use food coloring for the color, and pectin to get the desired jellylike consistency.

Don't can the jam, as the arbitrary amount of sugar won't allow it to be shelf stable. Just keep it in the refrigerator and it should be fine until it grows moldy (how long it takes will depend on the sugar concentration). Freezing is also an option and "pauses the clock" on expiration.

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Apple jelly with either food coloring or turmeric in it. Not sure if you can just mix stuff into a jar of already made jelly, and keep its nice original texture, but you can make the jelly from apple juice (many recipes available on internet, e.g.: http://www.cooks.com/recipe/x16tm5jm/apple-jelly-from-apple-juice.html)

Turmeric has such a strong color, that I think if you used an amount small enough so that the resulting taste was "interesting", ... but still nice, it would still give you your "vibrant yellow".

Of course before doing a lot of work, I would experiment with store-bought apple jelly first.

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Sounds to me like a pineapple jelly would do the trick for you. It stays vibrant yellow, and a jelly instead of a jam would be clear with no floating pieces or chunks.

Pineapple is a fairly unusual jelly/jam flavor, but quite good. It makes an interesting but delicious pb&j, and could probably be substituted pretty much anywhere you would use jelly or jam.

Unfortunately it is likely to be quite sweet, but you could likely adjust the ratio of juice to sugar to find one that suits you (the two below have wildly different ratios, so I think you could definitely play around with it-- its just a question of the minimum amount of sugar necessary for the jelly to set properly).

Example recipes: http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/certo-pineapple-jelly-51940.aspx https://www.justapinch.com/recipes/sauce-spread/jam/pineapple-jelly.html

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I've seen a yellow garlic-lemon sauce... it was very good, and I put it on many sandwiches, though the color was not quite what you want. I don't have a recipe (it was commercially made) but perhaps you can develop something of the sort, tweaked for the appearance you want.

The garlic lemon sauce I mentioned was opaque and pale, possibly mayonnaise based. A butter or oil based sauce would probably give a better color - for example, the commercial garlic butter sauce (used as a dip) can be much more yellow, and sometimes a bit less opaque.

The texture is still pretty soft, though it might be able to be thickened with a corn starch slurry. I have had a corn-starch thickened soup so thick it was almost gloppy (and really amazing, texture and flavor worked very well), close to syrupy but not quite at a jelly-like consistency. It was also a really beautiful vibrant gold color - it was a broth based soup, and might have had some coloring - or turmeric - to help give that lovely deep color.

So, between the two, you might have something pretty close. A butter-based sauce, which will thicken and firm up when cool, might be mixed with a gloppy corn-starch based sauce. And the results might well reach syrupy or even jelly-like consistency. The flavor pairing of garlic and lemon is already well-received as a sauce, and may be well complemented by the savory flavors in a golden broth - there are vegetarian golden broth packets available, such as G. Washington's brand, or you can make your own vegetable broth and even deepen the color with turmeric. Butter will, I think, give a better flavor, but oil will tend towards translucent... you could try a mix, depending on how it all tastes.

Butter and lemon (especially zest) will give paler yellows, the broth will give golden yellows, and if you add a bit of turmeric (very bright yellow) I think you should get a pretty vibrant yellow color out of it.

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