It’s a strange time of year. In November and December I was so tired from the summer that I was happy to sleep in and do not a whole lot for awhile. Many hours were spent soaking in the bathtub and reading through seed catalogues. By now, though, garden plans have been laid out, the first round of earliest spring seeds have been ordered and shipped to us and I’m starting to wake up in the morning with manic summer gardening thoughts in the front of my brain.
Before I forget, though, these tangerines! Citrus season in California is very much upon us. A friend of mine in Ukiah gave me a huge bag of tangerines off of her tree. They were juicy, sweet and delicious, and while we ate a lot of them fresh I also ended up making a couple different projects with them.
CANNED TANGERINE SEGMENTS IN LIGHT SYRUP
I held back from adding a bunch of flavorings to the syrup. My goal was to make a fancy version of the canned mandarin oranges that they sell at the grocery store. They’re basically the same thing, but with local fruit and a light syrup made with organic sugar. I used this recipe here, which worked out just fine. Maybe I’ll tinker with it next time, but I kind of like that these are pretty plain. They’re lovely straight out of the jar, tossed with salads, in a sauté with chicken, almonds and parsley, and a whole load of other recipes.
TANGERINE & VANILLA BEAN JAM
I realized a few years ago that any jam that’s heavy on the vanilla makes for the best, most delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I think it’s something that ends up kind of being reminiscent of peanut butter and marshmallow fluff? But without the marshmallow? Maybe I’m crazy… This jam is a good alternative to marmalade if you’re not a fan of the bitter flavor marmalade can have. It tastes like a creamsicle because of the classic orange-vanilla combination. If you want to use it for savory applications, just leave out the vanilla bean. I thought about making another batch with ginger instead of vanilla, which I think would be great on chicken or as a salad dressing base, but…. we ate the rest of the tangerines. Oops.
Cook Time: 45 min.
Makes: 6 half pint jars
- 14 tangerines and 1 lemon, peeled and blended in a food processor, or about 5 c. of fruit puree.
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1/2 box of sure-gel low sugar pectin
- 2 c. sugar
Prepare boiling water canner, jars and lids.
Put the fruit puree into a large, heavy bottomed pot. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the fruit puree. Simmer the fruit-vanilla mixture for 5 minutes on low heat. In a small bowl, combine the pectin with 1/2 c. sugar. Once the fruit has simmered, add the pectin-sugar mixture and turn the heat to high. Once it comes to a boil, add the remaining 1 1/2 c. sugar. Bring to a full rolling boil and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until you can see the jam sheeting of a spoon.
Ladle hot jam into hot, clean jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace. Wipe rims clean and attach lids and rings. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude if necessary.
Note: I only use 1/2 box of pectin because I find that when I use a full box, the set is way too firm for my taste. If you prefer a firmer set, feel free to add the rest of the pectin.
DRIED TANGERINE PEEL
As you’re doing these projects, don’t throw away the peels. Save them and dehydrate them to make tangerine peel powder, which you can use as a spice with kinds of different applications. I mixed some with garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper, dried thyme and rosemary to make a savory rub for chicken or pork. You can also use it for sweet things — I find that any time you’re using desserty kinds of spices like cinnamon or nutmeg, a little pinch of the tangerine peel powder just makes it taste even better. You can either dry the peels in a dehydrator or the oven; I don’t have a dehydrator so I used the lowest setting on my oven. They took a couple hours to dry out, and then I ground them in my blender. The powder felt like it still had a little moisture in it, so I spread it onto a cookie sheet and dried it a little longer to make sure it wouldn’t mold in the pantry. The scent of the peels dehydrating is wonderful and will make your house smell delicious, like you’re baking a tangerine cake.