Wednesday, December 30, 2015

TO PICK OR NOT TO PICK

My little calamondin orange tree, Calamondin X Citrofortunella mitis, never fails to produce a winter crop of delightful small fruit and is the only one of my potted citrus favored with a place in the house over the winter. It can do no wrong. In spring the air is perfumed by its flowers, the foliage stays bright green throughout the year and the fruits are perfectly formed spheres of orange. Native to China the calamondin was introduced to North America around 1900. It is one of the hardiest of the citrus and will withstand temperatures down to 20º It is perfect for container culture.


This year, unlike my other citrus, the tree overcame a battering from hail in late spring which removed all citrus flowers. Lemons and limes called it quits but the calamondin produced another flush of blooms to delight us once again during cold winter days.


A little research led me to a recipe for calamondin orange marmalade. Being of English heritage we grew up eating marmalade on our breakfast toast, and still do. Not the sweet orange marmalade that is sold here but marmalade made from bitter Seville oranges grown in Spain. Calamondin fruits are very tart so maybe marmalade made from them would be more similar to that made from Seville oranges. I decided to give it a try.


First of all I had to overcome the urge to just leave the fruits on the tree. Maybe I could start by making a couple of jars just to make sure I liked the end product. I found the easiest way to deal with the fruit is to cut the fruit in half, remove the pips and squeeze the juice into a glass measuring jug. There is very little pith so the whole fruit can be used.


Just a quick pinch between the fingers and remove any stray pips, then cut the remaining peel with pulp into fine strips.


I tied the pips in a muslin bag as I had seen my mother do when she was making jams. It is supposed to be a source of pectin.


Then it all went into the pan along with ¾ cup of water for every cup of peel and juice. Boiled down for about 15 minutes and then into the fridge overnight to develop the pectin needed for jelling.
Next morning I measured the contents and added some more water, ¾ sugar for every cup and boiled down until the jelly stage was reached at 210º I also like to test putting a small amount on a very cold plate to see if it wrinkles when a finger is drawn across. I potted up but not before I had a little taste. Good and tart-perfect.


You can be sure as that all the other little oranges will get the same treatment next week. For now we will enjoy the little tree with its winter bounty for a few more days.

20 comments:

  1. Such a pretty thing to have indoors! If I had a room with more winter sunlight I'd grow this for sure! (I'd skip the marmalade though -- not a fan of the peels)

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    1. You might like this one Alan. The peels are incredibly soft you don't even know they are there.

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  2. Wonderful! Your little tree, too, is lovely. Happy New Year!

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    1. Happy New Year. Yes, such a happy little tree and one you see in Asia to welcome in the Chinese New Year. Unfortunately my fruits won't last that long this year.

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  3. Ooo, yum! What a great tree to have. I made Blood Orange marmalade once, and that was quite the chore cutting the peel into little strips for it! So yummy, though. What a great way to use all of those wonderful oranges! I hope you have a wonderful New Year!

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    1. Cutting the peel into strips is rather a chore but so worth it. I did a lot of chop, chop chopping this morning as I picked 3lbs of fruit.

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  4. That's a great tutorial on what to do with otherwise tart fruit. Looks very good.

    Happy New Year!

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    1. It has a very lemony taste as you would imagine but it sets really well because of that which is really a bonus.
      Happy New Year

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  5. Great post! That looks so yummy! Happy New Year!

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    1. Happy New Year Jayne. Here's wishing you a great gardening year.

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  6. Looks delicious!!

    I've never tried making jam or marmalade.

    The closest I came was this past week when I made candied kumquats - basically boiling the depipped and sliced kumquats with sugar and water. It turned out tasty :)

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    1. I once had a kumquat tree and did the same thing. You are making me think I should look out for another one this year. I used mine to flavor quail. Happy New Year.

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  7. What a beautiful tree!
    And, the marmalade looks wonderful. Love your tutorials.

    Wishing both of you a very Happy New Year!

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    1. Happy New Year Linda. Here's hoping for a good year in the garden for all of us but I know we will keep on doing it whatever nature throws at us.

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  8. You are always such a source of inspiration, Ms. Jenny!

    That marmalade looks like bottled sunshine and in a way, I suppose it is. The last thing I concocted using elements from the garden recently was some thyme infused honey. I used the quick infusion method (with heat) and to me the end result tastes the way the best roses smell. I always enjoy things more when they are home grown and prepared, don't you? Happy 2016!

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    1. Thyme infused honey sounds wonderful. DId you have it on toast? Yes, to home made things. Happy New Year.

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  9. What sunshine the tree brings to your house! And now it's bringing sunshine to your pantry as well. Best wishes for a happy new year Jenny!

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    1. I have a feeling that you probably grow these outside in California. We were just in Phoenix and the fruit trees in my son's neighborhood were bursting with fruit. We had his grapefruit every morning. Wonderful. Happy New Year Kris. May your drought be over in 2016.

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  10. Thank you! My fruits aren't near as large as yours, though. Do you fertilize? In any case, I'll try the marmalade!

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  11. I just ordered one today! Can't wait ........... I make my own marmalade too :)

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