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Recipe – Making and Canning Ojai Pixie Tangerine Jelly

Recipe – Making and Canning Ojai Pixie Tangerine Jelly

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.


Making and Canning Tangerine Jam Finished jelly and jam stack

The result of my first attempt at canning. Although not perfect because amateur mistakes, they are actually tasty.


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

Napolean started the canning revolution 300x180
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.


Making and Canning Tangerine Jam 1

Ojai Pixie Tangerines are sweet and seedless, perfect for canning jelly and jam



Aside: Jelly, Jam and Marmalade, what is the difference?

  • Jelly  -Made from only the juice, resulting in a pure jell
  • Jam – Made from the juice, pulp and chunks of fruit. More rustic
  • Marmalade – Made from the whole fruit, including the skin. Very chunky and requires additional cooking time.



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
  • Towel
  • Canning funnel



My first attempt at canning Tools needed for canning

Tools needed for canning, I picked the above kit from Amazon.com and the jars from a grocery star. I used my dumpling steamer base for the jars.


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


My first attempt at canning Sanitize the Ball jars in a boiling water bath

Cleanliness is next to godliness with canning – Sanitize the Ball jars in a boiling water bath


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.


Making and Canning Tangerine Jam Prep the Ojai Pixie tangerines

Cleanliness is next to godliness with canning – Sanitize the Ball jars in a boiling water bath


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.


Making and Canning Tangerine Jam Prep the Jalapenos and habaneros

Remove the seeds and membrane form the peppers before chopping. Wear gloves or you will not proceed to the next step of canning.

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.


Making and Canning Tangerine Jam Boil the fruit

Making and Canning Tangerine Jam – Boil the fruit



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.


Making and Canning Tangerine Jam For Jelly strain the juice from the solids

Making and Canning Tangerine Jam – For jelly only, strain the juice from the solids


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.

  1. Note: If you only end up with less juice than expected, then reduce  other ingredients in the recipe accordingly
  2. When making jam, you use everything so you will yield a higher volume. So plan accordingly with the number of jars.


Making and Canning Tangerine Jam The Remaining Juice from the straining

Making and Canning Tangerine Jelly- The Remaining Juice from the straining. Measure your ingredients based on juice extracted

Making and Canning Tangerine Jam turn up the heat again

Making and Canning Tangerine Jam – There is no need to strain because you want it chunky



7)      Add the pectin to the pot and bring it back to a boil



Use the full package of pectin. Pectin will gel your jam and jelly together

8)      Add the sugar and stir until fully dissolved


Making and Canning Tangerine Jam add pectin then sugar

After the sugar returns to a rolling boil, add the sugar and thoroughly integrate.


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

  1. Tip: A hard rolling boil looks like you cannot stir the liquids because the boil is so strong.
  2. Tip: Put your cell phone down, this is no time for selfies. I made this mistake.


Making and Canning Tangerine Jam heat to a hard boil for exactly one minute

Making and Canning Tangerine Jam – heat to a hard boil for exactly one minute


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.


Pectin Humor1

Pectin Humor



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.



Making and Canning Tangerine Jam Pour the cooked jelly into the heated jars

Making and Canning Tangerine Jam – Pour the cooked mixture into the heated jars using the canning funnel



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


Making and Canning Tangerine Jam Add lid

Making and Canning Tangerine Jam – Remove the lids from the hot water bath using the magnetic tool and apply glue side to jar


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.

  1. 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.



Making and Canning Tangerine Jam peserve the jars by boiling them allowing the air to escape

Making and Canning Tangerine Jam – Peserve the jars by boiling them, allowing the air to escape


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.


Making and Canning Tangerine Jam Finished jelly and jam stack

Making and Canning Tangerine Jam – Finished jelly and jam. The strained version is a milder and refined flavor. The jam has pieces of fruit, so the flavors are more intense



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.


Making and Canning Tangerine Jam Finished jelly and jam


 Resources for Canning and Jelly / Jam recipes:

National Center for Home Food Preservation

Mother Earth News: Good information on canning, including resources

Amazon is a great resource for supplies

Ball’s Website: this is the company that makes the Jars. They are a top notch resource

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

icon wink

How to fix the top 9 most common issues with your jams or jellies

About Tom Holmberg

Tom grew up in a cultural diverse neighborhood and a culturally diverse family, so he has learned to appreciate all types of food. "I am not a Chef, nor do I play one on T.V., but I have learned to appreciate food from years of eating and cooking." Tom also spent 10 years in the restaurant industry in various roles, from Prep Cook to server.


  1. Wow that was very informative, great job. I learned a lot, although I have no plans to make jelly it is good to know that I can come back here and find out exactly how to do it if I ever decided I wanted to.
    Thanks for sharing,it was a great read, very detailed

  2. Wow this is great! Thanks for including step by step instructions and pictures. I definitely want to try this one day!

  3. This is great – there’s nothing like homemade canned food. Thanks for sharing the instructions!

  4. Wooow! Now that’s a long process, i’ve never taste a Canning before. but i can see the look that its taste delicous

  5. So impressed that you did this! It looks like it turned out lovely!

  6. This was an awesome recipe my love! I only got to try the first batch. I look forward to trying the second batch!

  7. Loving the history lesson behind canning! Can’t wait to follow your blog along to see this process.

  8. Stephanie Clopton

    It looks amazing, but that is a lot of work. Maybe you can make it and we can buy it:=)

  9. I have been thinking about learning his to can food. This provides me with some great ideas. Thanks for sharing

  10. I love the idea of canning but seems like too much work for me

  11. Not too long ago my sister got her hands of huge strawberries and wanted to try making jam but after she saw how complicated it was she opt out lol There’s a lot of steps to canning that I wasn’t aware of! Thanks for sharing!

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