My sister and her hubby flew to Jamaica the day after I arrived - but not before giving me the keys to their cars and house and permission to kill their children if they misbehaved...oh, let me be specific...teenagers...three of them! I'm WAY to old for this gig! And really, three is misleading because it's more like ten...the 16 year old has a boyfriend who is always lurking around, the 19 year old has a bevvy of beauties that circulate in and out and the only Grace in this entire situation is Grace herself...she's 14 and is still under the illusion that her Auntie says what she means and means what she says. The others have me figured out and know all the buttons to push...So five days and 16 loads of laundry later, yes, you read that right, 16, there has not been one drop of blood shed, the cars have not been wrecked, no windows were broken, no fires were started, everyone is present and accounted for and they're all still speaking to me...all in all I'd say I've been a regular Mary Poppins and/or I'm extremely lucky!
While the older kids were running amok, Gracie said she'd help me can Mandarin Oranges, also known as Satsumas and Cuties. They are available everywhere this time of year and are like a bite of sunshine on a winter's day. I read a recipe that said canning Cuties was super easy...and it said they would taste much better than the ones we can buy at the store that are already canned. What better thing to do on a snowy, cold, January day?!?
We purchased two 5 pound boxes of Cuties and then the two of us peeled and separated the oranges into segments, removing as much of the white pith as we could - (Cuties are advertised as the orange even kids can peel!), it was very easy - it probably took us about 30 minutes. Once our jars were sterilized (in the dishwasher) we put the oranges in the jars then covered them with a sugar and water solution, two parts water to one part sugar. (Several recipes I read said the oranges could be covered in water alone or a very light sugar/water mixture. I opted to use a heavier sugar/water syrup to pour over the fruit, but it's totally up to you.) The lids were put on and then they were processed in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Canned oranges can be stored at room temperature for up to six months, but once opened they need to be refrigerated and eaten within one week.
Canned Cuties - Adapted From Several Sources, Including Pick Your Own.Org
10 pounds of Cuties or Mandarin or Satsuma Oranges, peeled, white pith removed, segments separated
8 cups water
4 cups sugar
12 pint jars, sterilized
Combine water and sugar and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, reduce heat to simmer. After oranges are peeled and segmented, put into hot, sterilized jars, leaving an inch head room. Pour sugar water over top, covering oranges, leaving 1/2-inch space at top of jar. Put on lids and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Let sit on a dish towel on countertop for 15 hours. Store at room temperature.
Note #1: After the oranges were canned and sufficiently admired because they are SO pretty...I read some reviews that were very disturbing! It seems a lot of people have tried to can oranges and they ended up with jars full of bitter tasting fruit! The white pith on the oranges must be entirely removed, according to one person, who went on to say that any amount of pith will make the oranges bitter. Well, it's only been a few hours so I don't know how they taste...but I will definitely let you know if my oranges are bitter...or better!
Update: The oranges are very good, but not nearly as sweet as I thought they would be. When I do this again, I will probably put in a lot more sugar and maybe even use orange juice as the liquid - with sugar - I like them sweet! They definitely were NOT bitter...so I'd say they were better!
Note #2: My canning directions are pretty loose - I had my mom standing next to me telling me exactly what to do, she's an expert in these matters. If you don't have a mom who's an expert in canning, please look up directions for preparing/sterilizing jars and lids and for the water bath.