This year my father’s little Satsuma tree was so full of fruit that he had to put baskets under the branches to keep the fruit off the ground. He tended to it carefully, making sure it had enough water, and stayed warm when the temperature outside dipped. Finally, they were ready to harvest and they were beautiful! He gave us a bag full and we gobbled them up in just a few days, but there was more to come.
He blessed us with two large crates filled with these beauties on Thanksgiving Day and since then I’ve been thinking about all of the possibilities, and there are many ! Orange Marmalade, muffins, candied oranges, Orange Cream Bon Bons, etc.
Canned in Light Syrup
My first project was to can the orange sections in a light syrup which is easy enough though the prep work can be a bit tiresome. It takes a while to make sure all of the pith is removed and seeds are out. Thankfully, this variety doesn’t have many seeds. I was pleasantly surprised at how pretty they turned out, since I was afraid they’d turn a brownish-yellow.
And since I had syrup left over, I decided my next project was to go ahead and make some candied oranges. Well, that didn’t go quite as planned since these oranges don’t slice very well, but I did the best I could. They might not be the prettiest garnish ever, but they’re certainly tasty! I hope that we can save a few to dip in chocolate.
My next project was to make marmalade. It’s been a few years since the one and only time I tried, and I ending up making three different batches with three very different results. One didn’t set, one became taffy, and one I sliced the peel too large. I had hoped to get it right this time. I looked at numerous recipes online and finally settled on one. I carefully measured, peeled and removed the pith and seeds, and followed the instructions. It smelled delicious, it tasted awesome, but I’m afraid getting it to gel was a problem. I had high hopes that it would set while in the jars, but it never did. Tomorrow, my project will be to pour out the marmalade syrup into a pot and add pectin to see if that helps.
After reading a few more recipes, I thought I’d attempt it again while the other marmalade was cooling off. So again I set out to peel the oranges, finely slicing some for the marmalade, and carefully removing the pith and seeds. This time I placed all of the pith, seeds and remaining peels in a spice bag and cooked that with the oranges. However, I didn’t think about the extra amount of water it took to cover it all. It was a while later, when I removed the spice bag that I realized I had a problem, there was too much syrup to the amount of orange pulp that I had. Sigh.
Then I had the brilliant idea of straining out the pulp and only placing the amount of syrup that I thought it needed. I stirred carefully and watched my candy thermometer. Finally, it reached the temperature I was looking for and passed the spoon test. I crossed my fingers and poured them into the waiting jars. And I finally have a winner! Now, what to do with the leftover syrup from this batch?
Today, I decided to salvage the first batch of marmalade that didn’t set. I threw in the bag of peels from the previous batch, hoping to extract more pectin, but it never did seem to thicken. As my last resort, I added a box of pectin and boiled it a little longer. I believe my attempt has failed, but that’s okay, because I’m sure it’s still delicious drizzled over things.
It’s now the third day of my marmalade adventures with many pit stops that must be made (canning turkey broth). I woke this morning and as I was tidying the kitchen I picked up a jar of the first batch and was so thrilled to find that it had finally set! And since I was on a roll, I decided to attempt a third batch! As of now, it’s syrup, but perhaps it will set in its own time or not.