Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Home Canning with Citrus



This time of year, those of us at Florida Fruit Shippers are bringing in the first harvest of beautiful, juicy Florida tangerines, oranges, and grapefruit. If you’re like me and don’t eat citrus out of season (the imported stuff is so dry, tired, and flavorless compared to what we get off the tree!) it’s a great joy to be able to enjoy these tangy, fresh fruit once again.

Some might say there’s absolutely no such thing as too much citrus, and that may be true. However, you may sometimes feel the urge to preserve a bountiful citrus crop through canning. The great news is that there are tons of options, once you’ve learned the basics. For a beginner’s course, check out Ball Canning’s Canning 101 and their Canning Guides. Fortunately, high-acid citrus is easy to can using the simple water bath method.



The first thing that comes to mind for most of us when we think of “oranges in a jar” is probably marmalade. This is quite a time-honored confection; the first known recipe appeared in an English cookbook in 1714. Marmalade, which typically features large pieces of orange peel, has been a fixture of British and especially Scottish cuisine for generations. Legend has it that it was invented to take advantage of a lost Spanish ship full of oranges that came ashore in the British isles...the cargo needed to be used up! While it can be a bit of an acquired taste, it also can be oddly addictive, with its caramelized flavor adding a certain something to many dishes.

You can certainly make your own marmalade, and there are many ways to do it. Traditionally, one uses the rather rare and hard to come by Seville orange, and the seeds of the orange provide the pectin that allows the jam to gel. Here’s one very British and properly researched recipe that looks entirely reliable: Perfect Marmalade.
 


No access to Sevilles? Feeling a bit more...American? This recipe is very clear and complete, but somewhat more simple, and does not specify the type of orange. And of course, there are many, many, fun and intriguing marmalade “spin-offs,” like this Clementine Rum Marmalade, this Blood Orange Marmalade or this Cranberry Orange Marmalade, which would be great on leftover turkey sandwiches at the holidays.

You may think of grapefruit as a little too intense for jam, but think again. Actually, as with marmalade, the sweetness of a jam is nicely balanced by the sour-bitter edge of this favorite fruit. Here’s a fun and unique recipe for grapefruit jam, which has some of the tang of a marmalade without the texture of the peel, which some don’t care for.



What if you’re just not into your jam having any bitter or sour edge at all? Hey, there’s no shame in that. There are plenty of luscious and sweet orange and tangerine jam recipes out there which do not incorporate rind, and they look amazing. Here’s one that takes advantage of the classic combination of orange and vanilla: Dreamsicle Jam. And this beautiful, smooth clementine jam can be made with any kind of tangerine. I can’t wait to try it with my own fruit.

A simple and versatile idea is this tangerine syrup, made by boiling tangerine juice with sugar, water, and a bit of lemon juice. Very quick to make, especially if you own a good juicer, this bright, sunshiny syrup has so many uses--in mixed drinks, on pancakes and waffles, with meats, on desserts, in tea...the choices are endless.

Finally, if you’re fortunate to both have a fair bit of time and a lot of beautiful citrus to preserve, you might try preserving citrus segments in syrup. You can buy something like this at the store in little individual cups for quite a bit of money, but the ones you can yourself will be better and, of course, cheaper. Once you learn the trick to segmenting citrus, it won’t take too terribly long.

There are so many more possibilities out there for preserving fresh Florida citrus through canning--we’ve really just barely scratched the surface here. For more great home canning recipes, check out our DIY with Citrus board on Pinterest, and follow the rest of our boards on Pinterest, too!

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