Soil and Cellar

Growing and preserving foods in Seattle

Citrus Fruit Cocktail

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Citrus fruit cocktail cooling on the counter. I swear this sunbeam was total happenstance, but it was so beautiful!

Citrus fruit cocktail cooling on the counter. This sunbeam was total happenstance, but it was so beautiful, I probably took 30 different pictures!

For Christmas this year I got a bunch of books, including Saving the Season by Kevin West. This is a wonderful book, you should definitely check it out. It contains lots of great stories and recipes, all organized by season. There are descriptive pictures and how-to’s, which are useful for a novice home canner.

Fruits, ready to be prepped. I had fun at the Chinese grocer near my home, they have such beautiful fruits for really great prices.

Fruits, ready to be prepped. I had fun at the Chinese grocer near my home, they have such beautiful fruits for really great prices.

Winter is, of course, focused on citrus. If you’re like me, you wait all year for the wonderful grapefruit that come out in winter. What a treat! And I love oranges, grapefruit, lemon, lime, and all other citrus (except maybe kumquats?) but I don’t love marmalade. It’s too bitter for me. And it seems like most recipes for preserving citrus are marmalades. But one of the first recipes in the section is for a winter fruit cocktail. Fruit cocktail! I don’t think I’ve had that since I was a kid and mom was packing my lunches. (Odd memory, one day, she forgot to pack a spoon, and I got clever and used a carrot stick to eat it. Heh.)

Peeling the grapefruit with a peeler.

Removing strips of the grapefruit skin with a peeler. I cut off way more than I needed, it turned out.

This fruit cocktail is all citrus, no pears or cherries. I totally love it! I used a variety of citrus in different colors, but you could just use this as a way to can oranges, frankly. There’s not even that much sugar in it, for you sugar-conscious peeps. I find the grapefruit flavor dominates the others, so if you’re not into that, leave the grapefruit out, or only use 1 (I used 2.)

The hardest part of this recipe is supreming the fruit. It takes a long time, and if your fruit is as ripe as it should be, is really sloppy. I’d definitely take this project on when you’re feeling like spacing out and listening to some good music, or Marketplace on NPR, whatever suits your fancy. But you really do need to supreme the fruit, so that you get all the skins off each section.

Supreme the fruit. Cut off the top and bottom, and set it on one end. Cut the strips of the skin off following the curvature of the fruit. Remove as much of the white part as possible. A sharp knife will be your best friend.

Supreme the fruit. Cut off the top and bottom, and set it on one end. Cut the strips of the skin off following the curvature of the fruit. Remove as much of the white part as possible. A sharp knife will be your best friend.

Recipe, from Saving the Season

6 pounds mixed citrus (I used Cara Cara oranges, red grapefruit, blood oranges, and Satsuma mandarins)
3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 whole lemon (for zest)
½ cup sugar
(Optional: you can add Cointreau, brandy, bourbon, or other alcohol. Since I thought this could be a snack for the nephews at some point I left it out. But if you’d like to do that, add in ¼ cup of the alcohol just at the end of the boiling process, before filling jars.)

Hold the fruit in one hand (over a bowl, to catch drips), and with the other, cut out each slice. Some will be easier than others, but remove it with no skin. I've never filleted a salmon, but I feel like I could after supreming 6 lbs of citrus. :)

Hold the fruit in one hand (over a bowl, to catch drips), and with the other, cut out each slice. Some will be easier than others, but remove it with no skin. I’ve never filleted a salmon (and don’t plan on it), but I feel like I could after supreming 6 lbs of citrus. 🙂

1. Wash the skins thoroughly, as you’ll be using the zest. With a veggie peeler, remove large strips of the peels of an orange, a grapefruit, and the lemon. Set aside.

2. “Supreme” the fruits. See my photos, but basically you cut off the top and bottom, set it upright “like a barrel” and cut off the skins and all the pith, and then remove each section of fruit with a knife. I did this while holding it over the bowl I was putting the cut fruit in, because it’s a very juicy proposition.

Squeeze out the remainder of the juice from the piths. I kept it all in one bowl until I was ready to use it, which was actually 2 days later. Typical me.

Squeeze out the remainder of the juice. I kept the juice and fruit all in one bowl until I was ready to can it, which was actually 2 days later. Typical me.

3. Squeeze the leftover piths to get all the rest of the juice from the fruit.

4. Separate fruit from juice using a slotted spoon.

Fruit and juice. Look at those colors, man, it looks fake!

Fruit and juice. Look at those colors, man, it looks fake! After sitting for awhile, they’ve all taken on that pink cast of the juice, sadly.

5. Add a strip of lemon peel, orange peel, and grapefruit peel into each of 3 sterilized pint jars. Pack the fruit loosely into jars, keeping about ¾” to an inch of headspace.

6. Measure out the juice, and add the lemon juice if you haven’t already. If you don’t have enough juice, add water to bring it up to 1 ½ cups.

Fruit, juice, and peels, pretty much all you need.

Fruit, juice, and peels, pretty much all you need.

7. Combine juice with ½ cup sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. (Here is when you’d add the alcohol, if using.)

8. Pour hot liquid over the fruit, leaving ½” headspace. Remove air pockets (I use a chopstick) and top off if needed. Wipe the jar rims clean, and put on lids and rings.

9. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes.

I learned something new with this recipe, about “venting.” When I make things like canned peaches or pickles, some of the liquid gets out while processing, making the jars super sticky. This is because of venting, which is when the jars are removed from the water and the quick temperature change causes some of the liquid to escape. So when you’re doing foods in liquid, turn off the heat under the water bath canner at the end of the required time, and let the jars sit in the water for 5 more minutes. Then when you pull out the jars they are less likely to vent. Yay!

Close up of the finished product (in that same sunbeam.) Pretty pretty pretty!

Close up of the finished product (in that same sunbeam.) Pretty pretty pretty!

I actually got 2.5 pints, not a full 3. So I put the half jar in the fridge. I’ve been enjoying eating it (trying to remember to not eat it all at once is a little hard though!) The rest I’ll be saving for late spring or early fall, when I’m antsy for juicy and delicious citrus.

One thought on “Citrus Fruit Cocktail

  1. Pingback: Ingenious Fruit Design: Pentagon Oranges, From Japan, Bred to Never Roll Away | pundit from another planet

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