I don’t know about you, but a gift at this time of year of something precious and sweet, all tied up with a bow in a glass jar is as wonderful as something in a familiar little blue box.
OK, almost as wonderful.
“Honey-Preserved Clementines” could not be easier, either, especially for a can-o-phobe like myself, who admittedly gets a little nervous around water-bath equipment.
But since these jars get stored in the refrigerator, you can skip that sort of, kind of scary step.
Slice seedless clementines, then place them in a saucepan with water, honey, sugar, cloves, cardamom pods and a cinnamon stick. I added the seeds and pod of a vanilla bean, just because I happened to have one on hand. I’m thinking a slice of fresh ginger might be a nice addition, too.
Bring the mixture to a boil, then let it simmer for a bit. Take it off the heat and let it sit out overnight, covered, for eight to 12 hours, according to the directions. I actually let mine sit out for a good 17 hours and it was fine.
Carefully place the clementine slices into a quart jar or smaller jars. Boil the syrup for a few more minutes to reduce it, then spoon it over the clementines in the jars. Once the mixture has cooled, screw the lids in place and store the jars in the refrigerator.
Now, comes the fun part — enjoying the clementines. Weinstein and Scarbrough suggest stirring some of the syrup and slices of clementines into yogurt or rice pudding, topping ice cream, adding to beef stew, accenting lamb tagine or using some in a stuffing for roast turkey, chicken or duck.
No doubt, you’ll come up with lots of other uses for these sticky, tender citrus slices drenched in sweet, unctuous syrup. The jars make great gifts, too — well, if you can bring yourself to part with them.
(Makes about 1 quart)
1 cup honey
1 cup granulated sugar
5 whole cloves
2 green cardamom pods
1 (4-inch) cinnamon stick
1 slice fresh ginger (optional)
1 vanilla bean (optional)
1 1/2 pounds firm clementines (5 to 7), cut horizontally into 3/4-inch-thick slices
In a 4-quart saucepan, bring 1 cup water and the honey, sugar, spices, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon stick and ginger, if using. Slice vanilla bean in half, scrape seeds, and add seeds and bean to saucepan, if using. Bring to a boil over high heat.
Gently slip clementines into the liquid without stirring. (If any slices are mostly rind, place them rind down.) Return to a full boil and then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from heat, cover, and set aside over night, or at least 8 and up to 17 hours.
Spoon and gently pack the slices into a 1-quart canning jar or a couple of smaller jars. Bring the syrup in the saucepan back to a boil over medium-high heat; boil 3 minutes to concentrate the flavors.
Pour syrup over slices to cover. (If you have a little bit of syrup leftover, use it to stir into tea or yogurt or to top biscuits.) Cool to room temperature. Seal and refrigerate for at least 1 week before using. The clementines will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
Variations: Substitute 1 1/2 pounds seedless thin-skinned oranges (such as Valencia or blood oranges), seeded Meyer lemons, or seeded tangerines.
Adapted from a recipe by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, as published in the Dec. 2009/Jan. 2010 issue of Fine Cooking magazine
More Goodies in Jars to Make: Preserved Lemons