These preserves are the result of a co-worker’s citrus bounty from his backyard tree. He brought in a bag of delicious, juicy oranges a few days ago, and I was the happy recipient of what was left at the end of the day, under the condition ‘bring me a jar of whatever you make‘. Sounds fair to me.
I have been enjoying these preserves on toast, mixed into plain yogurt, and on top of creamy vanilla ice cream. I imagine the preserves would also be delicious mixed into homemade buttermilk cheese (minus the thyme and lemon), heated and drizzled over pork, or as a glaze to cooked chicken thighs. With it’s subtle mix of sweet and savory flavors, the possibilities are numerous…
And just a quick note about preserve making and canning: while it is entirely possible to make pickles and preserves without specialized equipment (jar lifter, lid lifter, canning funnel, etc), these tools are really useful and make the process much simpler. And they’re cheap! I think you can get a jar lifter + magnetic lid lifter + canning funnel for about $12 total. It’s absolutely worth it. I don’t have a special water bath canner, but instead use my 12 qt. stock pot, which works like a charm.
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Five Spice Orange Preserves
Adapted from Christine Ferber’s Mes Confitures
makes about six 1/2 pints
2 1/2 lbs Granny Smith Apples
4 2/3 c. sugar, plus 1 c.
About 3 lbs oranges, or 2 c. 1 oz juice and pulp
3 c. 2 oz water, plus 7 oz
2 attractive medium sized oranges
Juice of 1 small lemon
3/4 t. Chinese five-spice powder (a mixtures of cloves, cinnamon, anise, ginger, star anise, and ginger)
2 or 3 three inch pieces of cinnamon stick (optional)
6 half pint canning jars with two piece lids.
Rinse the apples in cold water. Remove the stems and cut them in quarters without peeling. Put them in a preserving pan and cover with about 3 1/2 c. water. Bring to a boil and let the mixture simmer for 30 minutes on low heat.
Collect the juice of the apples by pouring the apple mixture into a fine sieve, pressing lightly on the fruit to extract the juices. Filter a second time through a clean handkerchief or cheesecloth that has been previously wet and wrung out. Refrigerate the juice overnight.
The next day, measure 2 c. 1 oz of the juice, leaving in the bowl any sediment that formed during the night.
Sterilize the jars and lids by 1) boiling the lids and rings in a medium saucepan for about 5 minutes; leave the lids in the water until ready to use, and 2) place the empty jars on a baking sheet and place in a 225 degree oven for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave jars in the oven until ready to use.
Squeeze the 3 lbs of oranges. Measure 2 c. 1 oz juice and put the seeds into a cheesecloth bag.
Wash and brush the 2 oranges under cold water and cut them into very thin round (1/8 – 1/16 inch or so). In a preserving pan, poach them with 1 c. sugar and 7 oz water. Cook at a boil until the slices are translucent, about 15-20 minutes Add the apple juice, orange juice, lemon juice, five spice powder, cinnamon sticks, 4 2/3 c. sugar, and the seeds in the cheesecloth bag. Bring to a boil, stirring gently. Skim. Continue cooking on high heat for about 10 -15 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove the cheesecloth bag of seeds. Check the set*. Put the jam into jars, close with two piece lids (lid + ring), and process in a boiling water bath for about 8 minutes. Allow to cool, and enjoy!
*To check the set, I typically place a small plate in the freezer when I start boiling the preserves. When the preserves are nearly set, I do the ‘wrinkle test’. Spoon about 1/2 t. of the preserves onto the cold plate, place in the freezer for about 2-3 minutes, remove, then press the preserves with your finger. If it wrinkles, it is ready; if it looks more like honey, keep cooking it. For a more exact approach, use a candy thermometer — the preserves should be set around 220 degrees F.