Oh my darling Clementine

21 Nov

I haven’t posted about food for a while, and truth be told, there hasn’t been a lot of preserving going on lately, though I still have a few preserves (and by a few I mean probably a dozen) I haven’t written up.  But I’d rather tell you about what I did this weekend then go back a few months.

For the winter I am departing from local produce and preserving citrus. I’ve saved citrus for winter when I knew I’d be out of local produce.  So this weekend I went out and gathered a selection of citrus with several recipes in mind.

Most of it is for a selection of “cello” I am making for Christmas (future blog post to come!) Limoncello, Pomelocello (which I love to say), limecello, and clementinecello will make its way into some lucky friends’ holiday baskets.

But I’ve been dying to make Clementines in Caramel Syrup too and making both the cello and the preserved fruits seemed the ideal way to reduce waste and end up with 2 lovely finished products.

To make the cellos I peel my citrus with a vegetable peeler and then remove the pith with a sharp knife. This is important because the pith is bitter, you don’t want a lot of it in your cello.

However the skin on clementines is very thin. We did some like that but frankly, it was just as easy to remove the entire skin and then cut off the pith.  It made virtually no difference.

Once they were peeled we rubbed off as much pith as possible and packed the clementines into jars.

From two bags (probably the equivalent of one crate) we got 4 quarts.  The caramel syrup is “easy,” just sugar and water, but I still managed to screw it up three times.

You start by putting 7/8 cups sugar and 1/2 cup cold water  for every quart into a sauce pan.  Turn it on and let it heat without stirring or boiling until the sugar is dissolved.

You can see the difference between the first batch (middle) and the last one (ends).

The directions tell you to then boil it for 5-10 minutes until it is a deep golden color. Here is where I ran into problems thrice. The first time I looked at it after 10 minutes and it looked like water. Maybe vaguely tan water, but water nonetheless. I boiled it for another 10 minutes and decided twice as long HAD to be long enough so went to the next step (see below).  I used this syrup for the first two quart jars but remained plagued with doubt. While they were in the hot water bath I decided to try again.

The second time I tried I got a phone call and ended up leaving it boiling vigorously for an unknown amount of time. When I returned it smelled like burnt caramel and though it was still nice and watery (I didn’t burn it dry) it was clearly still over done. The color was brown, the smell and taste burnt, and not in the nice way.

Feeling like Goldy Locks I tried again. This time I got it right. I vigorously boiled it for around 20 minutes (the first time my heat must have been too low) until it was a nice caramel color and smelled yummy.  I could have let it go a little longer even, but by that time I was rather impatient and ready to move on.

So onto step 2 (again).  Add one cup HOT water for every quart, being careful to cover your hand with a cloth because the caramel splatters and sticks like lava to any surface it finds.  The caramel clumps up so you heat it up and boil until the clumpy sugar dissolves.  Pour boiling liquid over clementines and seal. Either refrigerate it or process it for 25 minutes in a hot water bath.

I’m looking forward to trying these over pound cake or dark chocolate ice cream at some point. Several jars will also be given away. So be very, very nice to me and you might find yourself on the receiving end of such a treat!

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