Our mandarin tree gave us a bumper crop this winter, but the fruit is too tart to eat much of it straight from the tree. The birds have discovered the fruit, too, so if we wait any longer for it to sweeten up we won’t get any mandarins at all!
What to do?
Our first idea was to preserve mandarin segments in bottles, adding plenty of sugar to sweeten them up.
So, we started peeling…
I then stuffed Fowlers jars with the segments, dumped a heap of sugar on top, and filled the jars with water. OK, the one on the left got filled with brandy – I thought it might make for a nice dessert :-).
Then into the big pot they go, on top of a trivet to keep them off the bottom. They get covered with cold water. My Fowlers book said to bring the water up to 92 C, and hold that temperature for 45 minutes. I tied a piece of kitchen twine around the clip of the brandied jar, so I didn’t accidentally feed it to the children.
After processing, the jars are removed to cool.
I’ve only tried the brandy mandarins so far (what, you think I’d start with the sugar syrup ones?!). They were very strong (might have to try 50/50 brandy and water next time!), but really nice on ice cream. I’m sure they’d be amazing on top of a grown-up citrus syrup cake too – check out River Cottage Australia’s recipe from Paul West.
Peeling mandarins got real old real fast, though, so I went looking for another use for the mandarins.
We’ve made cordial several times before, using Jackie French‘s standard guideline of 1 cup of fruit and 1 cup of sugar, to 2 cups of water.
First, I juiced up lots of mandarins.
I then measured how much juice I had so I could measure out the sugar and water. I brought the sugar and water to a boil until the sugar completely dissolved, then added the mandarin juice and took it off the heat.
Once the cordial had cooled enough, I poured it into bottles (home brew bottles work great). The cordial should be stored in the fridge or in a cool dark cupboard, and it only lasts about a month.
(Yes, that’s one of Jackie French’s books in the background next to the Fowlers preserving manual!)
One glass of delicious mandarin cordial!
It’s really nice to make up this cordial using soda water – it makes great soft drink. I’m hoping there might be a Soda Stream under our Christmas tree this year :-).
What ideas do you have for dealing with a glut of citrus fruit?