Sunday, January 24, 2010

Canning Citrus

I've challenged myself to take my canning to the next level by participating in the Tigress' can jam run by Tigress in a Jam (more info the challenge here). The theme for January was Citrus.

The obvious choice would be either a citrus marmalade or canning sections of citrus but since I don't really like either of those I was at a lose. After spending may rainy, drizzly, sleety weekend afternoons browsing my canning books I came across a couple of recipes in the Ball Complete book of Home Preserving that seemed worth a try: Cranberry-Oragne Vinegar (p277) and Honey-Orange Slices (p163). With the vinegar recipes was also a recipe for using the vinegar as a poultry marinade. I could use up the cranberries that I froze at thanksgiving and the last of my large jar of local honey that was starting to crystallize.

When I checked my supplies I found that I had used up most of my jars on a pantry full of stocks, jams and canned single ingredients but I had several dozen 4oz half jelly jars empty. Since I was likely going to be using the vinegar for dressings and marinades it was the perfect combo to make a bunch of single serving jars. I luckily also had just enough regular lids to match my needs.

The recipes calls for reducing 3.5 cups of cranberries to make 1 cup of juice and then simmering the juice with white wine vinegar, sugar and a cinnamon/clove spice bag. Once the sugar is dissolved you add in a reserved .5 cup of whole berries.

I found that I needed far more water than called for to make sufficient juice but that was at least partially due to the dehydration caused by freezing the berries. I also ran out of white wine vinegar so had to substitute about 1 cup of apple cider vineger which I actually rather like.

At the end, to jar up, you place an orange slice and a few of the whole berries in the jar with the vinegar and process in the water bath for 10 minutes.

For the honey orange slices you start with 2+ lbs of oranges and slice them thinly. This goes a lot faster if you get a seedless variety.

Cover them with water and boil for 10 minutes, or until the peel is soft, and then drain and set aside. Meanwhile, bring 1.25 cups of honey and the same of sugar to boil with 3 tbsp lemon juice and an allspice/cinnamon/clove spice bag until the sugar is dissolved and it makes a nice glaze.

Add the drained oranges back and simmer until the oranges are nice and glazed.  The smell is wonderful.

My only complaint is that the softened oranges started to fall apart if you stirred too strongly. I almost think the end product would be better without the pre-boiling but I don't know.

Anyway, you pack them up and if I had the time I might have actually arranged them nicely but as it is i just shoved them in, covered them with the syrup and processed them for 10 minutes.

Challenge months completed: 1 -- 2 recipes I would have never tried -- 14 jars (11 jars of vinegar and 3 jars of orange slices) on the shelf