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Mom, We Have a Problem…

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That’s the cry that was coming in the back door of the house this past weekend. The first thing that came to my mind was, “Why is the word ‘Mom’ always attached to problems that occur at home?” Before I could answer my own question, in the door came a huge box of tangerines. My husband said, “We still have tangerines and we need to figure out what to do with them.”

Yep, at this point it means I need to figure out what to do with them. I have already taken bags to work to share with co-workers and passed them out to family and neighbors, sharing our wealth of these beautiful nuggets of gold. Now it’s time to swing into action and preserve the wonderful flavor of this great fruit. This way, we have the sweet flavor of these little gems to share after they’re no longer hanging on the trees in the backyard.

Looking for one of my favorite recipe books from the shelf, I reached up and grabbed my grandmother’s Farm Journal’s Freezing & Canning Cookbook. Great ideas always come from this book, even if the recipe I might be looking for isn’t in there. Just thumbing through the book inspires me. There are pages with stains on them from her favorite recipes, even some old spices still stuck in the binding of the book and handwriting on the edges of the pages. Okay, I’ve got it; today we make jelly.

Let’s get ready to make our tangerine jelly. Start with a large saucepan; select and sterilize the jars you will need for canning and make sure you have sealer lids and screw rings. The recipe calls for dry pectin, which I prefer over liquid for fruit jelly; check the date on the box to make sure it hasn’t expired. Now that you are ready, here’s my recipe.

Tangerine Jelly

6 cups chopped tangerines, pulp, about 4 pounds
1 cup chopped lemon, pulp (2 or 3 large lemons)
½ cup thinly sliced tangerine peel (about 4 tangerines)
1 cup water
1 package dry pectin
5 cups white sugar

In a large saucepan, combine the tangerine and lemon pulp, tangerine peel and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool before straining. Strain juice through a cheesecloth or use a sieve. Measure 4 cups of juice. Combine the strained juice and powdered pectin in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once it reaches a boil, add the sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves and starts to boil again. Make sure it is a full boil that can’t be stirred down, then continue stirring for one minute. Remove from heat and skim off the foam. In a small saucepan, add water and bring to a boil. When it boils, place your sealer lids in the pan to heat before placing on the jars. Ladle the jelly into sterilized canning jars, leaving ¼-inch head space before sealing. Wipe the rim of each jar clean so that you get a good seal. Place a sealer lid on the clean rim and screw down with the ring. Once you have filled all of your jars, process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. I find when making jelly from citrus it may take up to 10 to 15 days for the jelly to set. Don’t think it failed when you check it the next day and it seems to be more of a syrup than jelly.

I still have tangerines even after making jelly, so I slice them and candy them, which is really very easy. Slice the tangerines, leaving the peel, and remove any seeds. In a stockpot, make a simple syrup of equal parts water and sugar. It will not be an exact amount; it depends on how many tangerines you have sliced. Make enough simple syrup to cover your sliced fruit. The recipe is simple enough. ■

Candied Tangerines

To make the simple syrup, put 1 part water to 1 part sugar in a stockpot on the heat to dissolve the sugar. Add in tangerine slices (or just peels) when the sugar is dissolved; simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take pot off heat and let rest for 10 minutes. Put the pot back on heat and simmer for another 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally; you want the citrus to look completely translucent and the syrup to be thick enough to coat the spoon or spatula that you’re using to stir. Take the citrus out of the syrup and lay on a rack to cool. Don’t throw the syrup away; it will be wonderful in drinks or on waffles or to freeze for a sorbet. Once cooled, rolled in sugar or shake in a bag with sugar. Done!

Cooling may take several hours; it really depends on the humidity in the air. You may want to set the trays in your oven to keep them in a drier environment while setting. I bag them and give them away as treats. That is, if I don’t eat them all first!