Recipe: Making and Canning Ojai Pixie Tangerine Jelly
My first attempt at canning
Sometimes you eat some amazing foods and you decide that you could enjoy the flavor year round. Last month I enjoyed some really delicious Ojai Pixie tangerines and I decided to learn the food preservation technique of canning so that I can enjoy the flavor all year. This blog post will cover some lessons learned from my first couple attempts.
I admit that I didn’t do it right the first time, but by the third attempt things turned out nice. Canning is really easy once you master the basic skills. I have included information and resources based on my follies.
First… A Short History of Canning The invention of canning arose out of necessity. As Napoleon marched across Europe, his Army’s local food supplies were exhausted, especially in the winter. He offered a cash prize to whoever could develop a reliable method of food preservation. In 1795 Nicolas Appert, discovered that food sealed in glass bottles under heat was an effective food preservation method.
First… A Short History of Canning
The invention of canning arose out of necessity. As Napoleon marched across Europe, his Army’s local food supplies were exhausted, especially in the winter. He offered a cash prize to whoever could develop a reliable method of food preservation. In 1795 Nicolas Appert, discovered that food sealed in glass bottles under heat was an effective food preservation method.
Ingredient Focus: Ojai Pixie Tangerine
The Pixie is a result of open pollination of Kincy mandarins (Kincys are a hybrid between a King Mandarin and a Dancy Tangerine). Pixie tangerines are pale orange colored, moderately juicy and always seedless. In general, Pixies are small (1-3 inches in diameter), have a pebbly skin and are easy to peel with segments that separate easily from one another. Pixie tangerines are grown in the Ojai Valley exclusively. I choose these tangerines to make my Jelly and Jam for their superior flavor and sweetness.
Aside: Jelly, Jam and Marmalade, what is the difference?
Aside: Jelly, Jam and Marmalade, what is the difference?
Recipe: Peppery Ojai Pixie Tangerine Jelly & Jam
This recipe stands for both the Jelly and Jam Recipe. There are minor variations that should be followed for the Jelly Recipe. These are highlighted in blue.
What you will need
- 6 cups of finely chopped Melissa’s Produce Ojai Pixie Tangerines, roughly 4 pounds
- 2 large lemons – Chopped (skins and pith removed) – o.k. to have waste
- 5 Jalapenos (4 fresh, 1 ripe/red) –Seeded/ membrane removed / finely chopped
- (JELLY ONLY) 2 Habaneros –Seeded /membrane removed / Finely chopped (Warning: wear gloves)
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced tangerine peel.
- 1 cup water
- 1 (1 3/4 ounce) package dry pectin
- 5 cups white sugar
- Wide stock pot
- Ball canning jars (you can get them in the grocery store) (12 for Jelly, 24 for jam)
- Lid Magnet tool
- Jar grabbing tongs
- Canning funnel
Note: I recommend purchasing a canning kit, here is the one I picked up from Amazon. They are cheap and will make life easy and prevent injury.
Prepare the Jars
1) In a wide stock pot, add enough water to cover the jars, plus one inch. Bring to a boil
2) While the water boils, wash the jars and lids with soap and warm water. Be sure there is no soap residue
3) Place jars in the boiling water and let boil for 5 minutes; and then turn down the heat to a simmer. Keep the jars in the water bath until you are ready to use them. This is easy so far right? Yes, that’s because you are a rockstar beautiful.
Prepare the fruit
1) Peel, segment, and chop tangerines. Be sure to keep all juices from the fine chopping. You can use a food processor for the chopping, but remove the connective white pith at the center of the tangerines.
2) Slice the jalapenos and remove the seeds and membranes. Reserve some seeds if you want it a little spicier, especially for Jam which is a little more rustic. Finely chop the jalapenos into ¼ inch pieces.
Cooking and Jamification
3) In a large pan, add the tangerine , lemon , tangerine peels and water
4) Bring the fruit to a full boil, and then reduce the heat to a medium simmer for 10 minutes (Jelly) 20 minutes (Jam). Be sure to stir occasionally so that all the fruit is cooked.
5) OPTIONAL STEP for JELLY – Using a colander and straining bag, drain the liquid into a separate pot. You can gently press the fruit, but do not punch down as it will result in cloudy jelly. Even better would be to juice your tangerines ahead of time.
6) Optional Step for Jelly – The result should be approximately 4 cups of juice. Turn up heat on the juice so that it returns to a boil.
- Note: If you only end up with less juice than expected, then reduce other ingredients in the recipe accordingly
- When making jam, you use everything so you will yield a higher volume. So plan accordingly with the number of jars.
7) Add the pectin to the pot and bring it back to a boil
8) Add the sugar and stir until fully dissolved
9) Return the pot to a full rolling-boil, and then hard boil for exactly one minute. Not a second more and not a second less. (use a timer) Be sure to skim the foam
- Tip: A hard rolling boil looks like you cannot stir the liquids because the boil is so strong.
- Tip: Put your cell phone down, this is no time for selfies. I made this mistake.
10) Turn off the heat off or to the lowest possible level
What is Pectin? how does it make the jelly?
Pectin acts as a binding agent, essentially creating a web in the liquid. The pectin chains are bound together through hydrogen bonds and hydrophobic interactions. The pectic web will bind with the water. In a high acid environment, the sugar aids in the process of creating pectin chains. The result is a multi-dimensional chain that allows the jelly to stand up and jiggle.
11) Remove jars from their water bath and place on a double folded towel so that they do not crack with the heat differential
12) Place funnel on the jar and fill each jar. Be sure to leave ¼ inch head space on the jar. Look for the start of the lid corkscrew as a marker. Always follow recipe instructions for head space.
13) Remove lids from the hot water bath using the magnet tool and place on the jar so that the glue ring aligns with the lid
14) Add the screw rings to “Finger Tight” – Do not over tighten! The air needs to escape during preservation
15) Place the jars back into the same water bath that you used for the sterilization of the jars.
16) Let the jars boil for 5 minutes (set a timer). You will notice water bubbles escaping. This will create an airtight seal on the lids.
- Note – You will need to adjust the timing based on elevation.
17) After 5 minutes, remove the jars using a jar removal tool and place on towel. DO NOT disturb the jars for the next 12 hours so that the seals can set and allow the air to further escape. You will hear the lid’s pop as the air escapes and a seal is formed.
18) Label and date your jars.
19) If your jars do not pop and the button clicks when you press on it, than preservation failed and you should use those jars right away or reprocess them. Follow this link for rescue techniques.
20) Note: It may take 18 hours for the jelly to fully set and harden. Do not shake or jostle.
The Final Product
The Ojai Pixie Tangerine Jelly is sweet with the delicate flavor of the fruit shining through the sugar and jalapenos. The Jalapeno flavor is present, but the spiciness layer is very subtle and almost negligible when enjoying with toast or other food. It stings no worse than the memory of a high school girlfriend.
The Sweet Jalapeno and Tangerine Jam is a little more aggressive. The use of Jalapeno flesh and whole tangerines adds a complex flavor layer and several textures.
Resources for Canning and Jelly / Jam recipes:
AllRecipes.com is a great resource for recipes and reviews of the recipes
Great Resource for fixing running jam or if you messed up the pectin step- I personally used this resource twice