Monday, October 31, 2016

Satsuma Mandarin Orange Pepper Jelly

At the very end of October or early November, these pretty little Satsuma Mandarin Oranges ripen and are begging to be picked, so a group of us headed over to McKenzie Farms Nursery to visit Stan McKenzie and buy some of his glorious citrus fruit freshly picked from his grove.

Satsuma Mandarin Oranges McKenzie Farms Nursery

A few  years back we had paid our first visit to Stan's nursery and marveled at all the wonderful fruit he had available. He showed us everything from Asian Pears and Dragon Limes, to Guava and Persimmons, but it was the much sought after Satsuma Mandarin Orange we were really after.

Satsuma Mandarin Oranges - McKenzie Farms Nursery

What is the Satsuma Mandarin Orange? It is a seedless and easy-peeling citrus species, Its fruit is "one of the sweetest citrus varieties, with a meltingly tender texture" and usually seedless, about the size of other mandarin oranges (Citrus reticulata). One of the distinguishing features of the satsuma is the thin, leathery skin dotted with large and prominent oil glands, which is lightly attached around the fruit, enabling it to be peeled very easily in comparison to other citrus fruits. The satsuma also has particularly delicate flesh, which cannot withstand the effects of careless handling. The uniquely loose skin of the satsuma, however, means that any such bruising and damage to the fruit may not be immediately apparent upon the typical cursory visual inspection associated with assessing the quality of other fruits. In this regard, the satsuma might be categorized as a hit-and-miss citrus fruit; the loose skin particular to the fruit precluding the definitive measurement of its quality by sight and feel alone. (source: Wikipedia)

Our visit this time did not disappoint, and we quickly loaded  up on these delightful little oranges, along with some fresh lemons and pecans from his trees and a few produce items also grown right on their land.
When I got home with my goodies I contemplated making a jam with my Satsuma Mandarin Oranges, but I didn't want a marmalade, so I thought, hmmmm, what about a pepper jelly with just a touch of heat? One that would be great with grilled shrimp, chicken or pork, but equally delicious on a cheeseboard with crackers and cream cheese? And so this recipe was "born." It is sweet and tart with a touch of heat ... just as I wanted.

1 - 3 lb bag Satsuma Mandarin Oranges
1 small lemon, sliced thin
1 cayenne pepper, sliced thin
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced thin
1 package (1.75 ounce) Sure-Jell (powdered pectin)
5 cups sugar

Peel oranges and process sections in small batches in a food processor. Pour into a mesh strainer placed over a large bowl to collect the juice. Use a spoon to spread pulp back and forth in mesh strainer to get out as much juice as possible. You should have about 3 1/2 cups orange juice.

In a large stock pot, add strained orange juice, thinly sliced lemon, peppers and Sure-Jell (powdered pectin). Bring to a boil over high heat stirring often. Add sugar all at once and return to a rolling boil (one that doesn't stop when you stir it), and boil hard one (1) minute.

Ladle jelly into prepared canning jars, using a spoon to evenly distribute the peppers and lemon slices into each jar, leaving 1/4-inch head-space. Cover with lids and bands and process in boiling water bath 10 minutes.

Remove jars from water bath and let sit on a kitchen towel on your counter-top. Jars are sealed when button on the top of the lid is fully depressed and won't move up and down. Once jars are sealed, and while the jelly is cooling and thickening, slightly shake jars to evenly distribute lemon slices and peppers throughout.

Store jars on pantry shelf up to one year. Opened jars need to be refrigerated.

Yield: 6 half-pint jars



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