January Can Jam Challenge: Citrus!

22 Jan

As I’ve mentioned, I am participating in the Can Jam.  My first first attempt at the Can Jam was a bitter pill to swallow. Literally. I made a lemon chutney, and it was an epic failure. I’m talking bile, people. It was so bitter that no amount of sugar, cursing or advice from anyone else could save it. It contained Meyer lemons, organic Eureka lemons, ginger, garlic, apricots, dates, sucranat (which I thought was one of the better sugar substitutes) and various spices traditionally used in South Asian cooking (mustard seeds, methi seeds, coriander seeds, etc) amongst other things (vinegar, salt, sweet red peppers, etc). I was going for a lemon pickle inspired chutney, and I didn’t get what I was going for. Never has more time or effort been poured into our compost bin as there was Thursday morning. I got rid of all the evidence of my failure–pictures, splashes on the stovetop, and so on. I had zested and supremed boatloads of lemons on Tuesday night. To look at the bright side, I know how to supreme citrus now.

Catcall! Look at those supremes!

I can now win that mise en place quickfire challenge on Top Chef if, 1) One of the challenges is to supreme citrus, and 2) I am ever picked to be on Top Chef.

Anywho, I think I made several mistakes. First, the recipe that I was basing my chutney on was vague, especially in terms of the amount of zest to amount of pulp ratio. I think I put in far too much zest. This would explain the bitterness.  Second, I think I chose much too complicated of a recipe for the first can jam challenge. Double S and I were discussing how we’re both the Go Big or Go Home types (you don’t even wanna hear how we overdo presents to each other), and how that was definitely what I was doing here. Instead, I should have gone with an easier recipe, to slowly test the canning waters. Ha!  And third, I actually think I don’t like these types of cooked chutneys. When it comes to Middle Eastern/South Asian lemon or mango pickles, I like the ones that are simple, and usually fermented and not canned. My bad. This was me last night after figuring this out:

Ok. So the heat was on. It was Thursday morning, a lot of other can jammers had already canned their item, eaten it on bread they made themselves (of course), blogged about it, and were already looking for recipes for February. I’m looking at you, growandresist! Luckily, I still had citrus from my trip to SoCal. I had eureka lemons, tangerines and mandarins, a few oranges, and about 10 limes. I was looking for an easy recipe that I could roll out and blog about in one day. It’s hard for me to do this. Hi, my name is Briggsy, and I like to go overboard. Focus! I immediately gravitated to my tangerines. Ah, tangerines. Always make me think of one of the best movies of our time, and this scene:

I decided to make tangerine jam, but to mix it up. I followed a baseline tangerine jam recipe that I found here: I avoided marmalade because I wanted to shun all things bitter. See above. Then, I improvised. I have found in my cooking journey that I cannot just follow a simple recipe. I can follow a complicated recipe (Like from Momofuku, which I’m doing this weekend), because it somehow seems cooler. But a simple recipe? No. Now, I’m not sure that improvisation is O.K. in the canning world. But, I did it, and ate it, and as Eddie Vedder grungily crooned, I’m still alive.   So for my second first  attempt at the can jam January citrus challenge, I made:

Tangerine Jam, Two Ways!

Basic Ingredients:

3 lbs tangerines or mandarins. (I used Fremont tangerines and Murcotts from the farmer’s market and one orange, because it’s what I have. Both were fairly hard to peel. Reserve the seeds. I put them in cheesecloth tea bags.
1 Tbs. zest. Which is the zest from approximately 3 of the above fruits.

Additional ingredients for Jam one: Tangerine Jalapeno Jam

Juice of 4 1/2 lemons (Start with less).

Approx 3/4 of a jalapeno, diced very small. Work on those knife skills!

1 3/4 cps sugar. I used white sugar because it’s what I had.

Half of reserved zest (1/2 Tbsp)

Few pinches of sea salt (optional).

Additional Ingredients for jam two: Boozy Tangerine Fig Jam

Juice of 2 lemons.

About 1 cup of figs. Diced. I used rehydrated Calimyrna figs.

Half of reserved zest (1/2 Tbsp)

1 1/4 cup sugar

2 spoonfuls of vanilla. Improvise!

2 cinnamon sticks

1 star anise

1/4 cup whiskey

Here are my tangerines, mandarins and oranges!

General Prep:

First, wash 2-3 mandarins. I used a clean scrub brush. Zest them, and be sure to avoid pith. This is tough. Really do a light zesting. This will give you right about 1 tablespoon of zest. Set aside.

Beautiful zesty zest!

Then peel all of the rest of your mandarins, and remove as much pith and membrane as you can. Then, over a plate or bowl, cut the mandarins in half across their middles, like so:

So orange! So juicy!  Cut across their equators.

Do this over a bowl or plate, because you want to reserve the juice and the seeds. The seeds give you the precious pectin you need. Put all of the halves and any juice you saved into a food processor, and give it a whirl. You can process it as much as you want–I did it about a minute, to make it fairly smooth.

Now, if you are going to make both jams, divide the puree in half. I started with the jalapeno jam. So,

Tangerine Jalapeno Jam

I was inspired to make this recipe by many recipes for pepper jam I read online, and got the technique/proportions from here. Put half of the puree into a medium saucepan. Then add the zest and sugar and lemon juice that are called for in the tangerine jalapeno ingredient list above.  Toss in a cheesecloth sack of half of the reserved seeds. Bring to a boil over medium high flame. Once it boils, reduce heat slightly. Allow the mixture to boil. Stir it from time to time. Keep tasting it and see if you like it. If you don’t, modify the ingredients. Start with less lemon, and add more if you like it. I thought it needed it. Which is also why I added the few pinches of salt. Then check to see if your jam sets. It took my recipe about 50 minutes to set. To see if your jam has set and is ready, place a small plate into the freezer for a few minutes, then drizzle a spoonful of hot jam onto the plate. Run your finger through it, and if the line remains, your jam has set. Also, taste for sweetness and acidity. I liked a bit of extra acidity in this jam, which is why there is so much lemon juice in this one.

Now, while the above was happening, you should be sterilizing your jars in hot but not boiling water. Then, when the jam has set, ladle it into the jars, put the rubber caps on, and then process for ten minutes. Here, some canner’s tools are helpful. I had canner’s tongs, but I also had a new silicone glove. It was really cool to stick my hand in boiling water to remove the jars:

It's gettin' hot in herrre!

After ten minutes, take off heat and let sit for another 5 minutes or so, then remove from heat. For more on how to can, google it, or go here.  And now, if you please, it’s time for jam two!

Boozy Tangerine Fig Jam

You could do this at the same time as you’re cooking the other jam, but I was apprehensive after the above bile incident, so I did them separately. Dice your figs, then put them in a bowl of hot water to rehydrate for about 30 minutes. In a medium saucepan, combine the other remaining half of tangerine puree, and the sugar and lemon juice listed above on the Boozy recipe. Then add the rest of the ingredients for the Boozy Jam (see above), except the whiskey: the vanilla, cinnamon sticks, star anise and the figs. Toss in the cheesecloth bag of the other half of the seeds.  Mine looked like this:

Boozy tangerine fig jam on the stove.

I improvised. At first, I was just going to make tangerine fig jam. But, as stated above, I cannot just follow a simple recipe. So, in my blogging travels, I saw recipes for various citrus jams where cinnamon, vanilla, almond extract, cloves, and scotch were added. I checked the pantry and saw what we had, then added vanilla extract, two cinnamon sticks ( I couldn’t taste just one stick), and one star anise (because, why not!).  Cook same as above: bring to boil, then reduce heat and cook till it sets.  This jam took less time, about 35 minutes.  Add the alcohol when you think it’s best.  From what I read, alcohol should be added at the end (to keep the alcohol content). However, there is the set point issue, so I added half of the whiskey at about the halfway point, then the remaining half at the very end, right before processing.

Then, do the above set test, and process when it passes the test.

You can use a small pot for small batch canning.

You’re done! This made 3 half pints of each recipe. Pretty much exactly.

So I completed the Can Jam, mission one, citrus! After much toil.


I have a hard time following recipes. This works for cooking. Does it work for canning? I think for citrus it was ok, because of the inherent acid. I cut the sugar for the Boozy Jam, and it still set. It didn’t set as well as the the jalapeno jam, because I added more sugar to the Jalapeno Jam. Actually, I felt it was a but too sugary, so feel free to cut the sugar if you are a not-so-sugary person, as I am. The amount of peppers could be increased in the pepper jam. I used what I had on hand. But this recipe is not as spicy as other pepper jams I’ve had. So add more heat if you want!

The finished product! Jalapeno on the left, Boozy on the right!


10 Responses to “January Can Jam Challenge: Citrus!”

  1. growandresist January 22, 2010 at 9:06 PM #

    Thanks for keeping it real! Love the clips. Taste test tomorrow!

  2. Libby January 23, 2010 at 6:12 PM #

    Improvisation in canning is usually okay when you’re making jams and pickles, but you must be careful with low-acid foods (veggies, meat). Swapping spices definitely okay, but decreasing sugar might affect gelling, loss of color of preserves, and safe storage time after the jars are opened.

    Your jars look lovely, and the flavor combos sound great!

  3. Julia January 24, 2010 at 3:43 AM #

    Hey, Briggsy (I love saying that, no wonder you always say it!) I love that you made two crazy tasty tangerine mixtures! They both look great and would also probably be good for cooking!

  4. Tengrain January 24, 2010 at 11:15 AM #


    I enjoyed reading of your travails — and I thank you for mentioning your unsuccessful first attempt (mine was so-so, also and/or too) but it was more the mechanics of canning itself.

    I like the flavor combo you decided on, and I will probably give this one a shot sometime.

    On to February! (I wonder what it will be?)



  5. Katie | RunawayOctober January 24, 2010 at 2:00 PM #

    I hear ya on the Go Big or Go Home mentality. But is sounds (and looks) like you ended up with two great batches of jam in the end. 😀

  6. Catalina February 13, 2010 at 8:52 PM #

    Wow! You did a lot of different recipes! Nice job! They look and sound yummy

    • ohbriggsy February 14, 2010 at 10:35 AM #

      hey catalina-thanks! i got kind of carried away on the citrus! we did carrots for this month–i’m hoping to post my recipe in the coming days! thanks for reading! i just checked out your blog. you have beautiful chickens!


  1. My Own CanJam Roundup « Grow & Resist - January 24, 2010

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  2. February Can Jam: Carrots! Pickled Mexican-Inspired Carrots with Onion and Jalapeno « oh, briggsy… - February 19, 2010

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