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Saving Sunshine

January 10, 2011

I love tangerines. They’re one of my very favorite fruits, and this year’s harvest was one of the best that I remember. Our neighbor’s tree hangs far over the edge of our fence, and generally all the fruit just drops to the ground. We have lots of wildlife that eats some of it, but it still usually goes to waste. How much can a few armadillos, tortoises and raccoons eat, after all (watch them take that as a challenge…it’s cool, I don’t mind ’em)?

Okay so, I should probably explain why I haven’t used/eaten them before now. The thing is, I can be really incredibly unobservant sometimes (see previous posts about the grape vines, Carolina Jasmine and honeysuckle). Our neighbors have many citrus trees that hang over our fence. A few years ago, he insisted that I take any I wanted. So I took one off the nearest tree, wanting to be polite. I was sorely disappointed, but didn’t want to hurt his feelings. Also, I hate oranges.

Anyway, I didn’t take any more for like three years based on that one orange; I thought they were all the same kind of tree. This year, I picked one on a whim because the tree near our bedroom window was overflowing with them: the branches were hanging  low because of their weight, and thet just looked so much better than I remembered.

They turned out to be tangerines (I thought all his trees were the yucky oranges) and they were sooo good! I picked a ton (with the help of ever-supportive BF because I’m very short) and ate them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, etc…Did I mention I love tangerines? I gave them to my parents, my friends, put the ones that had already fallen into the leaf mold pile, and still we had a ton left. So I thought I should try and can some.

In the spirit of expanding my blog to include more crafting and DIY-ing (and canning, bc I love it), I’m gonna share the very easy process with you all (like, three people):

Canning is not hard. Well, it doesn’t have to be at least. It can be intimidating at first, but once you get it down it’s no problem. Keep that in mind, Friend-I-Won’t-Name-Who-Managed-To-Burn-Herself-Somehow (I’m not making fun of you btw, you’re wonderful and I’d hug you if you were here right now). She’ll probably get me back for that, but remember: you can bake bread and I’m BreadInept. It’s one of my few flaws.

In this post, I’ll just show what I did today (hands down, this is the easiest canning session I’ve ever done). One day I’ll do the basics of canning in general.

The simple syrup I used is classified as Very Light: it’s a super small ratio of sugar to water. I did 6-1/2c of water to 3/4c sugar. Plus the addition of the juice of three lemons. This is because my fruit was very sweet and I needed to be sure it was acidic enough for water bath canning. Water bath canning is for acidic foods only, i.e. most fruits. I’ll tackle pressure canning when I get a canner. That requires money, of which I have none!

Before going into the boiling water, I poured (boiling) simple syrup solution into the jars, leaving about 1/2 in of headspace. I made sure to get all air bubbles out by running a butter knife around the sides of the jars, wiped the rims and threads of the outside, and put the lids on. I tightened the rings (without over-tightening) and put them into boiling water, making sure there was about two inches of water above the jars.

I processed them for ten minutes, took them out and allowed them to cool. Then I labeled with the date so I wouldn’t forget (which I would have, definitely) when I made them.

They look so pretty I don’t know if I’ll have the heart to break into ’em!

UPDATE (04/19/2011) : Okay, gross. I didn’t get all the pith off and they were bitter as bitter can possibly be. It was B-A-D. My fault. Anyway if you try this, double check my instructions here and please be sure to remove all the pith, otherwise what you’ll end up with will not be edible. Like, at all. By the way, that site I linked to is awesome! and an exceptional resource for everything, all the time. I love it.

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