Every year during citrus season, I am presented with a bag of tangerines from a friend who has the task of harvesting the fruits from his sister’s tree. It must have been a very good year, because this time I got two bags (read: over ten pounds) and a bonus bag of my beloved Meyer lemons. And while I love tangerines and will accept them and any other fruit with open arms, I can only make so many Cranberry-Tangerine Scones before I blow up to the size of a life raft. This time, the sheer volume alone forced me to face what I have been intimidated by for so long: canning. It was on my list of goals for 2011, so there was no turning back now.
I’ve made small batch jam before using my microwave, but I had a lot of tangerines to use up, so I needed to pull out the big guns this time and started to research what I needed. I am not one to load my already loaded kitchen up with things I don’t need, so I jumped in somewhat haphazardly and made do with what I had. I bought canning jars and a canning funnel at my grocery store, pulled out an very large stock pot that I had requested one year for Christmas but have hardly used, grabbed a round roasting rack, and read up on the canning process. I also used a sturdy pair of grilling tongs to fish the jars out of the pot, but I won’t go that route again. One of those jar grabbers is definitely the safer and more effective way to go, so it’s on my list of things to purchase before I do this again.
Just as some recipes require a couple of different processes to get an end result, canning is no different. I followed the directions, used a little kitchen intuition and crossed my fingers a lot. I was so pleased with the results and have been using the jam in all sorts of ways besides on toast, and I hope to share some of those recipes with you soon.
TANGERINE AND VANILLA-BEAN MARMALADE
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit December 1997 via Epicurious
I am an inexperienced canner. Please do your own research to insure the safety of your canned marmalade. All of that said, this is such a refreshing marmalade. It’s neither bitter nor tooth-achingly sweet. And using a Meyer lemon was the perfect complement because the pith does not bring any bitterness at all.
2 pounds tangerines, each thoroughly washed and cut into 4 wedges
1 Meyer lemon, washed and cut into 4 wedges
5 cups water
2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise and then crosswise
3-1/2 cups sugar
Cut tangerine and lemon wedges crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices. Discard seeds from fruit. Transfer fruit to large bowl. Add 5 cups water, covering fruit. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; let stand at room temperature 1 day. Transfer fruit mixture to a large, heavy pot. Scrape in seeds from vanilla beans; add bean pods. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until rind is very tender and fruit begins to fall from rind, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour 15 minutes.
Remove from heat. Add sugar; stir until sugar dissolves. Boil gently until mixture is 210 degrees F, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour 20 minutes.
Using a wide mouth canning funnel, divide vanilla beans and boiling hot marmalade among four or five 1-cup sterilized jars leaving 1/4-inch of headspace and making sure each jar gets 1 or 2 vanilla bean pods. If any air bubbles appear in the jar, use a sterilized knife blade to remove them. Carefully wipe any marmalade from the rim with a paper towel and tightly attach seals and rings. Place jars in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes (the water must be at a full boil). Remove jars and set on rack to cool overnight.
- The USDA has the best guidelines for canning, and I strongly suggest you utilize their methods for all of your canning needs. I can’t stress this enough; it will lead to your canning success.
- Make sure the tangerines and lemon are squeaky clean, but be careful not to rub the skins so hard that you break the skins. You want the flavor in your marmalade!
- I used a candy/canning thermometer to reach the desired temperature and had to play with the heat source to keep it there. I also used the spoon test and plate-in-the-freezer tests to see if the marmalade was done. All in all, I went slightly over the stated 1 hour 20 minute period and relied more on the plate-freezer check.
- Check seals as the jars begin to cool. You should hear the hiccup sound and the “button” on top of the lid will flatten. If that does not happen, you can refrigerate that jar and use it first, or you can reprocess in the boiling water bath.
- Do not double this recipe.
- The original recipe link provides a process slightly different that I’ve shown that results in a marmalade that goes into the refrigerator with a two-month shelf life. Unless you consume a lot of jam or know few people who will use it right away, I would go the extra mile and process in a hot water bath so you can put the jars up for a year.