If you read my blog occasionally, you might know that I have a lot of fruit trees. Some are graphed fruit trees, some are dwarfs, some are relatively young, and others are old and established.
Here is my lemon/tangerine tree:
It’s a graph of two types of lemons (I am pretty sure one is Eureka, not sure yet about the other) and what I’ve always referred to as a tangerine. It only recently occurred to me to challenge that notion. So this past weekend, after a day of picking, I grabbed a sampling of the fruit and headed to one of my favorite nurseries, Yamagami’s.
“Mandarins and tangerines are the same thing” I was told. Really? I didn’t know that. I investigated that little fact when I returned home. Tangerines are actually a subgroup of mandarins. Remember Venn diagrams? Essentially, all tangerines are classified as a type of mandarin orange, but not all mandarin oranges are tangerines. The primary difference comes down to color. Tangerines are a darker reddish-orange, while the mandarin is lighter orange in color.
I was told my fruit was most likely a Dancy tangerine, an old variety of mandarin that originated in China, making its way to Florida via Morocco in 1867.
My son LOVES canned mandarin oranges. Last year this time, Marisa from Food in Jars canned clementines. Um, DUH! Why didn’t I think of that? (As my giant tree that has a very short window of ripe fruit stares me in the face)
And then there’s this: As I learned from Marisa’s post, and confirmed myself, all that white little pith that is so prettily disappeared on your canned mandarins, guess how they get so naked? Not a bunch of oompa loompas, peeling the string from the fruit diligently. NO!
They look so innocent, those little canned mandarins. Who knew they were being soaked in chemicals?
And so I have committed that this year I would make use of every last one of those fancy dancy tangerines (OMG I am going to LOVE referring to them as fancy dancys!!!).
I will can them in sections.
I will can them in whole.
I will can them with cinnamon sticks
and squeeze juice from the pulp.
I will can them with sugar,
I will can them straight-up.
And when I am done
They will all be put up.
So here’s the process I went through to can my little non-cuties.
I started by forcing the kids to pick tangerines.
I then went through the painstaking process of separating and peeling the white strings from the mandarins. Probably not worth the effort, but I got a little perfection bug up my butt, apparently. So please appreciate this photo, because it took me an hour to peel five pounds of those little guys.
Meanwhile, I boiled seven pint jars to stuff my five pounds of mandarins into. I then created my simple syrup to sweeten up the mandarins. Usually, when you buy them canned, they’re covered in a very sweet syrup. Marisa canned them in a very light syrup, 3/4 cup sugar to 6 cups water. She told me she would have preferred a bit more sweet in her syrup, after all. So I went with 2 cups of sugar to 8 cups of water.
After the sugar had dissolved in the boiling water, I took the sterilized pint jars from the water and stuffed them with mandarins.
I added the syrup to the jar, leaving 1/2 inch head space, and released air bubbles by sliding a butter knife along the inside edge of the jar. Finally, I added the lid and screw top to fingertip tight (tight, but not forced) and processed in a boiling canner bath for 30 minutes. Remember that you begin counting the minutes when the water has reached a full rolling boil.
My son saw the results when he came home from school yesterday. I told him to wait a week before we try them. I’d like to let them sit in the syrup for a bit to get a good idea of how the recipe worked. I’ll let you know the results!
Update: Well, as it turns out…without the complete removal of the outer membrane, the tangerines were bitter (I had hoped the sugar syrup would override the bitter. It didn’t.). Next year, I’ll have to try a different method.