There’s nothing quite like the bright fresh flavor of orange and pineapple to make you think of hot summer days enjoying a Tiki drink by the poolside. Citrus always tastes of summer, even when it’s 20 degrees or below outside. I’m not a huge fan of spreads, jams and jellies, I use them rarely and sparingly, but I would still like to improve my stock of shelf stable fruit items available on the pantry shelf. To that end, I’ve been keeping an eye out for sales on citrus, apples, bananas and berries to explore different ways to preserve and enjoy them.
I know winter is not the best time to shop for some of these fruits, as they are not in season, but you can still find good deals if you keep a sharp eye on the local grocery ads. I can’t/don’t currently grow a lot of fruits in my garden (I’m working on it!). Purchasing store bought during the winter is acceptable to me especially when trying new recipes/smaller batches.
Looking for something else to try?
If oranges aren’t your thing, I’ve got a great simple recipe for canning up pineapple here! (canning pineapple is even easier than canning oranges in my opinion).
This week the local store had a sale on cutie/mandarin oranges and so I picked up six pounds to try out a simple water bath canning recipe for orange slices. As someone that often buys the store bought snack pack versions of mandarin orange slices, I looked at the cost of buying versus making my own. Granted, making my own requires more time and energy, and I don’t take in the cost of the jars, gas and water used but the savings is fairly significant. Larger batches would also increase this savings margin. A store bought equivalent would cost me $13.68, whereas I spent around $6.87 for my homemade batch. A ~50% savings is not too bad!
Preparing you Oranges
There a few things you need to keep in mind when it comes to preparing your oranges, mostly centered around the removal of the pith. Pith is the white spongy substance that clings to the orange segments and it imparts a bitter taste to your orange. Do your best to remove as much of this off of your orange as possible otherwise you’ll end up with bitter tasting segments!
For this recipe you want to use the smaller clementine or mandarin oranges. They are easier to peel and fit well into jars without leaving to much empty space. Look for firm evenly colored smooth oranges.
First remove the entire peel, if you have a very tough rind you may need to score it (not too deep) to help get the process started.
Quite a bit of the stringy pith will remain. Using a sharp knife carefully scrape around the orange and remove as much of the white substance as possible.
You can see the difference here between a fairly well cleaned orange (on the right) versus one that still could use some work (on the left).
Once you have as much of the outer pith removed, split the orange down the middle, and separate out the segments and removing the inner column of pith. If you prefer you can leave the oranges split in half and can them this way, but I like the nice bite size pieces separating the segments gives me.
Makes: ~ 12 Half Pint jars, 5-6 Pints, 3 Quarts
Ingredients and Equipment
6 pounds cutie or mandarin oranges, peeled and pith removed
Sharp Paring Knife
Glass Mason Jars, fresh clean lids and bands
Large Pot – deep enough to cover jars with two inches of water
Canning utensils – Funnel, Jar Holder
Small amount of White Vinegar
Prepare the Jars
Use a stock pot large enough to fit your jars and and have their tops covered by 1.5-2 inches of water. Place jars into pot and fill with water until jars are about 3/4 full. Add a splash of white vinegar to the pot to keep scale from building up. Set over high heat, cover with lid and bring to a boil to sanitize jars.
Orange slices can be packed in fruit juice or into a syrup depending on your preference. Additional Details can be found here on the National Center for Home Preservation Website. I choose to pack mine in a very light syrup (1/2 C of white sugar to 5 cups water) and this made plenty for the 6 pounds I canned.
Place juice or sugar/water mixture into saucepan and set over medium heat. Stir gently to dissolve sugar (if needed) and keep at low simmer until ready to use.
Use the method pictured in the blog above to remove as much of the pith as possible, this ensures your oranges don’t turn out bitter tasting.
Bring your syrup/juice back up to a high simmer.
Remove hot jars from large stock pot and set on clean dishtowel covered cutting board.
Using a slotted spoon place your oranges into the simmering syrup/juice and leave for 4-5 minutes until heated through.
Remove orange segments from syrup and place into each jar leaving a 1/2″ headspace.
Fill each jar the rest of the way with syrup/juice, tapping lightly on cutting board to remove bubbles (or use a chopstick/bubble remover to remove any trapped air).
Take a clean kitchen towel of paper towel dipped in white vinegar and wipe the rim of each jar.
Center lid on top of jar and tighten metal band to fingertip tight.
Repeat for all the other jars, placing each filled jar back into the water bath when done.
Once all your jars are filled, turn heat up to high and bring water back to a rolling boil. When water has reached a boil begin a timer for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes is up, turn off the heat and remove jars onto a clean dish towel covered cutting board.
The jars should start to seal within a few minutes up to overnight. Test the seal the next day by pressing on the middle of the metal top. If it does not flex your oranges have been safely canned!
Label and store up to a year in a cool dry place and Enjoy!