One of my favorite things about winter is Clementines; those little balls o’ citrus goodness that come in the blue box starting around mid-December. I know the season isn’t all that long, and I usually manage to turn some into marmalade so we can enjoy it any time, but I am always a little sad to see them go.
So, when I spied the friendly blue boxes (and bags) at my local markets, I knew they weren’t Clementines, but California Mandarins, but decided to give ’em a try.
These are most definitely not Clementines. They have a tart – almost sour, to me – bite that is not at all at all Clementine-like, and not what I want first thing in the morning.
Good thing I only bought the small(ish) bag; but, what to do with them?
•6 cups water
•4 cups sugar
Place in a large, non-reactive pot, pour the water over all, cover, and let rest overnight.
When ready to make the marmalade, bring to a boil, then simmer for 40 minutes, until the peel is tender.
Now, for the hardest (to me) part: stir in the four cups of sugar, then cook at a fast boil until the mixture reaches the jelly stage (220º on a cooking thermometer). It takes forever for my thermometer to hit 220º, so, while I do use it as a guide, I keep an eye on the pot, and when the thermometer gets somewhere close, and the mixture has turned a rich, golden orange, I call it marmalade and set about processing it – this batch yielded eight half-pints.
Ladle the marmalade into prepared canning jars, leaving about 1/2 inch space at the top of the jars, then cover and process in a boiling water bath for ten minutes.
And how is it?
Pretty darned fanTAStic!
Especially when you consider I didn’t care for the fruit at all.
The cooked mandarins have an intense orange flavor, not unlike those orange slice candies, but this is all real with no artificial flavors or enhancers added, and that tart – almost sour (to me) – bite? It’s still there, but as a kindofa nice aftertaste which makes me think of a perfect, fresh, juicy orange.
Best marmalade ever – I may even be giving some of these as Valentine’s gifts!