Thursday, January 5, 2023

Preserving Orange Gem Jelly, Discards and Delighting in the Light

"A man ought to carry himself in the world as an orange tree would if it could walk up and down in the garden, swinging perfume from every little censer it holds up to the air."
~ Henry Ward Beecher

I love to work with citrus in the winter. Not only is it tasty and refreshing and full of the necessary vitamin C, but bright and beautiful in the somber chilly background of the season. Preserving food in jars is also very welcoming in this weather as the warmth canning brings into the kitchen is much appreciated. Plus, adding extra jars to the pantry shelf is indeed lovely too. Would you care to join me in preserving some delicious orange gem jelly? As the name suggests, it is reminiscent of those "Sunkist" sugared orange gem candies I loved as a child. Plus, it is quite simple to make.

  • 2 c. freshly squeezed, strained orange juice (from approx. 5-6 oranges) 
  • 1/3 c. freshly squeezed, strained lemon juice (from approx. 2 lemons) 
  • 2/3 c. water 
  • 6 tbsp. pectin (I buy it in bulk HERE or 1 box of Sure Jell)
  • long strip of orange peel (from oranges used above) 
  • 3 c. sugar (I use organic from Costco)


Place the strained orange juice, lemon juice and water in a large cooking pot. Drop in the orange peel. Stir in the pectin until dissolved and bring to a boil (stirring frequently). Once liquid reaches a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, then add in the sugar and bring to another rolling boil (stirring frequently). Once liquid reaches another rolling boil, let it boil for one minute longer while stirring constantly so it doesn’t overflow. Remove from heat. Using tongs, remove strip of orange peel and discard. Skim off any foam quickly and ladle jelly into hot, sterilized half-pint (or quarter-pint) jars leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe rim of jars with a dampened clean towel; adjust two-piece metal canning lids. Process for 5 minutes in a boiling water canner. Remove jars and cool (out of the way of any drafts) on a kitchen towel once processing time is complete. 

Wait for 12 hours and then you may store your lovely jelly in the pantry.

Yield: 4 half-pint jars (or 8 1/4-pint jars)

Note: This recipe has been adapted from the “National Center for Food Preservation” website.

You will find the printable version of this recipe HERE should you like to add it to your "Preserving Notebook"

Though I was gifted one small basket of homegrown oranges, I was able to preserve so much from them! 

This was all produced for our home from the free basket of organic, homegrown oranges (last year). I thought it would be fun to include ways you can use up every last bit of this refreshing citrus fruit (no discards here!):

- 8 quarter-pint jars of orange gem jelly (recipe shared HERE)

- 8 half-pint jars of macerated marmalade (this was an experiment and a failure at that so I'm definitely not going to share this recipe!)

- 3 dehydrator trays dried zest (which I removed from the oranges before making the jelly - for medicinals, cooking, baking, DIY products, etc.)

- 1 dehydrator tray dried orange slices (to be used in tea blends, infusing large jars of sun tea, potpourri, garnish and my newest idea of placing under roasting poultry to impart flavor)

- a few quart jars of orange peel vinegar for making cleaning products.

- jar of orange peel ends for the freezer (when I save enough I will make pectin with them) The ends can also be used to make many other things - visit my ebook for 100+ ways to use fruit scraps for more ideas.

- 3 orange roses (for fun! - to embellish orange cakes, etc.) (The tutorial is also shared in my ebook - 100+ ways to use fruit scraps.)

And finally, you get to place all your resourceful homemade items on your pantry shelf just like Ma Ingalls would have done! 

“The sunshine came streaming through the windows into the house, and everything was so neat and pretty. The table was covered with a red cloth, and the cookstove was polished shining black. Through the bedroom door Laura could see the trundle bed in its place under the big bed. The pantry door stood wide open, giving the sight and smell of goodies on the shelves, and Black Susan came purring down the stairs from the attic, where she had been taking a nap."
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Big Woods

I think the joy one gets from reading these pioneering classics is the ability to see the beauty in the ordinary. While the darkness seems to be looming in so many areas of life, these books (and Scripture - read Phil 4:8) remind us to glorify in the basic but beautiful blessings.  To enjoy the heavenly gifts...

Sunshine, the chirping of the birds, the early luscious spring growth and the aroma of wet earth, the cozy kitchen with the curtains flowing in the breeze, the smell of a newborn child, the smile from a toddler, the embrace from a child, the laughter shared with a teen, the steadfastness of a husband’s love, the eternal promises from Above.

Dearest reader, though it is winter, let us remember to delight in the Light.

“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying,
"I am the light of the world.
He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness,
but have the light of life."
~ John 8:12

I hope you enjoyed today's winter preservation post with a touch of simple pioneer nostalgia. It is raining this morning and the sound of the pitter-patter is so gentle and soothing. I'm looking forward to beginning my nesting for the day. Happy homemaking! Love, JES