There is little to do, sometimes it takes a little to do great things.
This applies to daily life and, therefore, also to cooking activities: sometimes it’s a simple ingredient that makes a great recipe, but even a small addition, a light shade could have the power to entirely change a dish. But even the same ingredient can change depending on how you use it or depending on the combination between different ingredients.
Thus, a simple Sicilian orange could change a lot depending on the procedures, on the parts you’re using and on the added flavors, originating three very different preserves, different in texture, taste and color.
So today I propose you three ways to make the most of the oranges and keep their unmistakable taste even with the changing of seasons.
In order of height (of the jar, from the smallest to the largest one), I propose you an orange jelly (black tea scented), an orange jam (rum flavored) and canned sliced oranges, hoping that at least one (or more than one) could tickle your appetite for fruit preserves.
On this occasion, it’s important to remember that I haven’t had the chance to set foot in Sicily, yet.. then, why my cuisine is so influenced by this wonderful land? And something tells me that I’ll come back to Sicily (at least virtually) in the near future (suspense mod. ON)
ORANGE JELLY (BLACK TEA SCENTED) (recipe from Sale & Pepe, February 2013, p. 48 and slightly modified) Ingredients * 2 kg of Sicilian oranges * 2 dl of natural apple juice * sugar * juice of a small lemon * 2 teaspoons of black tea leaves (only one tsp in the original recipe) * 1 teaspoon of agar agar (optional; I didn’t use it, but in my opinion it’s necessary if you want a thicker jelly) Procedure
Squeeze the oranges, weigh the juice and measure the same amount of sugar. Prepare a bag of gauze with a teaspoon of black tea leaves and another one with the crushed orange seeds (my oranges were seedless, so I skipped this step.)
Pour the orange juice in a saucepan with apple and lemon juice, add the sugar and let it melt over low heat, stirring. Add the gauze bag (or bags), bring to a boil and cook, stirring from time to time, for about 20 minutes (I cooked it for about another 20 minutes). Sale & Pepe suggests to remove the bag with tea leaves (and the other one, too) halfway through cooking; instead, I left it till the end of cooking and then I added a teaspoon of tea leaves directly into the jelly, too.
At this point, the jelly will be still soft, so you can decide to leave it this way (perfect to serve with desserts or cheese), continue cook it or add some agar agar (dissolving it in water and then adding it to the jelly).
When the jelly is ready, pour it into jars (previously washed and sterilized), turn them upside down for a few minutes to get the vacuum and then store them in a cool dry place.
ORANGE JAM (RUM FLAVORED) (recipe by Patty of Andante con gusto, slightly modified – I used pectin and eliminated lemon juice) Ingredients * 2 kg of Sicilian oranges * 1 kg of sugar * pectin * a liquor glass of good Rum Procedure
Peel an orange, carefully removing only the orange part and cut it into a thin julienne. Put cold water in a pan and add the zest. Bring to a boil, then drain. Repeat this process 3 times: this will remove the bitterness from the zest. Set aside.
Peel the oranges to the flesh (remove the peel and then remove the segments, too) using a sharp knife: try to remove as much white parts as you can, ’cause they release the bitterness. Pour the pulp (together with the juice you have made) in a large pot, add sugar and pectin, then stir. Bring to a boil and let it boil for three minutes, then add the rum, test the consistency to evaluate whether to finish or continue cooking. When the consistency it’s right for you, pour it into jars (previously washed and sterilized); turn them upside down for a few minutes to get the vacuum and then store them in a cool dry place.
CANNED SLICED ORANGES
(recipe from Sale & Pepe, February 2013, p. 43, slightly modified – I increased the doses and used some caster sugar) Ingredients * 2 kg of Sicilian organic oranges * the juice of one lemon * 3 dl of natural apple juice * 750 g brown sugar * 150 g caster sugar Procedure
On the first day, boil the oranges for 20 minutes and leave them to cool in their cooking water. Slice them (not too thin), collecting all their juice, too. Put the slices in a bowl with their juice, the lemon juice, the orange seeds closed in gauze bag (my oranges were seedless) and 5 dl of water. Let this rest until the next day.
On the second day, pour this mixture in a large saucepan, bring it to a boil and cook it for 20 minutes, then remove it from heat and let it rest until the next day.
On the third day, pour the apple juice on the oranges, add the sugar, bring to a boil and cook for 30 minutes. The result will be slices of orange (partly intact, partly broken in pieces) and a slightly thickened sauce, sweet and with a great taste. Don’t expect a jam, because it’s not it at all. In my opinion, it’s a great sauce (a sort of orange syrup), with slices and pieces of oranges in it, perfect for garnishing and/or accompany soft dough based desserts (cakes, muffins, etc…) or other desserts (ice cream, cheesecake etc…).
Pour it into jars, previously washed and sterilized. To have a beautiful result, place the most beautiful slices along the side of the jar and then fill the jar with the remaining slices and syrup. Turn the jars upside down for a few minutes to get the vacuum and then store them in a cool dry place.