Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Mixed Citrus Preserves/Salad

I like the recipe because it didn’t feel like making marmalade and I was tired of fretfully standing over a pot stirring and hoping for a gel. I just wanted to dump things in a pot and get on with my life.

I bought at least 30 temple oranges because they were $.10 a piece. I was thinking I was going to turn them into marmalade of some type but the little devils have very acrid skins. No one I talked to had heard of temple oranges so let me tell you what I found out. They have a thin skin (that’s bitter apparently) very little pith and LOTS of seeds but they are very juicy and very sweet. They would probably be perfect for fresh squeezed OJ if you had a tree. They were also nice for this salad.
I had some room temp citrus and some from the fridge and I discovered that while I preferred to slice cold citrus, it was easier to peel warmer citrus if I wasn’t using the peels for anything. The main reason for this was because my hands didn’t get freakishly cold and stop working but the peel also seemed to come free more easily when warmer.

Because the temple oranges had so little pith and were so juicy I didn’t bother taking off the membranes from the segments. I simply peeled the oranges, split them into segments then cut each segment in half with a sharp knife and popped out the seeds. This was messy enough that I set up my own assembly line with a cutting mat underneath to catch extra juice. I would slice the segment over a colander sitting on a bowl so I could keep the seeds and juice separated as well. It took me a while to find the perfect rhythm but once I did things moved smoothly.

I processed the grapefruit in much the same way as when I made grapefruit marmalade. I peeled the fruit and broke it into roughly quarters, sliced the middle/core from each quarter and popped out the seeds then the pulp with my thumbs.

My recipe came from the USDA online canning guide. The nice thing about that book is it includes all manner of modifications for fruit preserves from water only up to candy thick syrup and it even gives allowances for honey (or splenda…gross) so I could pretty much do whatever I wanted to and not really modify their recipe. I went with a very light syrup that was about half honey half sugar.

Hidden somewhere in the citrus preserves section is a statement to the effect of grapefruit preserves fine by itself but oranges taste better when canned with equal parts grapefruit. There were no reasons given or other qualifiers so I have no idea why or what makes this so or if this is true. I used about 8.75 lbs of temple oranges (25 total) and 5.25 lbs of ruby red grapefruit (7 total). I don’t know what my yield in lbs was exactly but I got roughly 2:1 oranges to grapefruit and I was content with that.
I had the option to raw pack and put my fruit in a water bath canner for the same length of processing time as a pressure canner (minus the obligatory venting steam and cooling canner times) but I chose to lug out my pressure canner anyway. Why? Because my canner is tall enough to stack pint jars and I could fit all my jars in at one time.

I fell in to the hot pack method although it isn’t my preference. I’ve been having lots of problems with floating fruit and cooking it is supposed to get out the air before it goes in the canner. I don’t think this altered the flavor of the fruit at all but the color did change. Right around boiling temperature ruby red grapefruit morph from bright pink to bright orange and oranges get lighter.
All of my jars sealed well but I had one that seeped pretty badly for whatever reason. It was of course on the top stack and got all over several of the jars so they got a bath once they cooled down.
There was about a cup of fruit left over when I filled the other jars. I reserved this and used it as a garnish for pork chops that night. It was an interesting switch from applesauce. I also ended up with 2.5 quarts of leftover juice which tastes pretty much like grapefruit juice sweetened with honey. We drank some of it straight up, I used some in my blood oranges in Orangecello and we mixed some in adult beverages. I didn’t process the juice in a canner, I just slapped a lid on and stuck it in the fridge. The jars sealed but wouldn’t have put them on a shelf in the pantry. We went through them too fast anyway.

Special Equipment: Water bath canner with rack OR Pressure Canner, Jars, Lids and Bands, Canning Funnel, bubble tool

Mixed Citrus Preserves/Salad
(Recipe built from the many options in the USDA home canning guidelines)

25 Temple Oranges (~8.75 lb)
7 Grapefruit (~5.25 lb)
7/8 C Honey
1 C Sugar
10 ½ C Water

1. Wash and peel citrus removing as much of the pith as possible.
2. Divide fruit into segments and cut into bite sized pieces. Discard membranes and seeds.
3. Add water, sugar, and honey to large saucepan and bring to boil
4. Add fruit and return to boil
5. Use a slotted spoon to pack fruit into hot jars leaving ½ inch headspace
6. Cover with syrup
7. Use non-metal tool to remove bubbles and recheck headspace
8. Wipe rims with moist paper towel, put lids on jars and screw bands to finger tip tight

9. Process in water bath canner for 10 minutes
10. Turn off heat , remove lid and wait 5 minutes, then move jars to counter to cool. Check seals in 24 hours and reprocess if needed.
9. Place in pressure canner and seal
10. Vent steam for 10 minutes then bring pressure 5 lbs and process for 8 minutes
11. Allow canner to depressurize naturally, remove weight and wait 10 minutes
12. Remove jars from canner and allow to cool. Check seals in 24 hours and reprocess if needed

a. Times are for hot pack of quarts and pints. Can raw pack fruit in pressure canner with same time except quarts must pressure can for 10 minutes.
b. Can reduce sugar and/or honey to zero cups or replace honey with equal measure of sugar.
c. Estimate 13 lb citrus/ canner load of 9 pints according to book

My Yield: 13 pts + 1 C (which is surprisingly close to the estimated yield from the book), and 2.5 Quarts of leftover juice.

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