Canning Mandarins

 Last summer, we started canning.  After a few months of no canning, I thought it was time to get the jars out and try something new.  Mandarins.

I love mandarins on Chinese chicken salad and so why not can them before we can’t find any in the stores.  This was a super easy canning project that was finished up within 1.5 hours…with about 5 minutes to spare before Downton Abbey started last night.

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Here’s what you’ll need (besides the obvious canning supplies):

5 lbs. Mandarins

Simple syrup

Easy Canning Method:

1.  Peel those mandarins.  Helps to have a helper and thank you Mr. Farmer for volunteering

2.  Pack peeled mandarins into 9 pint size jars

3.  Make your simple syrup.  I ended up making a 2:1 ratio because I didn’t want to risk having bitter oranges.  6 cups of water, 3 cups of sugar.  Bring your water to a boil, then slowly stir in sugar.  Keep stirring until it’s boiling again and allow to boil 1 minute.

4.  Pour simple syrup into jars with mandarins, leaving 1/2″ head space.

5.  Wipe rims clean, put your lids on.

6.  Process in a boiling water canner for 10-15 minutes.  Remember to not start timing until after you’ve reached a full boil.  I like to get my water almost boiling while I’m doing everything else. That way, when it’s time to process, you don’t have to wait too long for the water to heat up.

7.  After the processing, allow to sit for 5 minutes, then take out of water and line them up all pretty on the counter.  Resist touching them for 24 hours.  *Easier said than done*

And…hopefully, that’s it.  I’m going to allow them to sit for about a week to really let that simple syrup make them taste like candy.  Then we’ll have a salad or put them on salmon before grilling.  Yum!

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Broccoli Soup

What do you do when you have a huge Costco sized bag of broccoli to use?  You make broccoli soup of course.  After finding The Neelys recipe at Food Network, I decided to switch it up a bit.  I tend to do that with most recipes.  Since this was spur of the moment, I used what I had, substituted what I didn’t and came up with this.

What you’ll need:

  • Butter (about half a stick…more or less)
  • 1/2 bag of broccoli from Costco…or 1.5 lbs of the stuff you have to work harder at
  • 1 large cut up onion
  • 1 tablespoon roasted garlic
  • 6 slices of bacon (cut up)
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup 1/2 and 1/2
  • Homemade Croutons

Here’s how it happened last night.

I melted the butter in a stock pot.  Threw in onions and broccoli.  Then the bacon.  The original recipe called for a carrot.  At this point in the process, I realized I didn’t have carrots.  But guess what I did have?   BACON.  Carrots, bacon…close enough, right?  Bacon got chopped up and thrown in with the onions and broccoli.  Oh wait, I forgot that I had thrown in a couple spoonfuls of roasted garlic I saw in the fridge too.  Next time I make this, the bacon will get sautéed first, then the onions will get sautéed in the bacon fat…oh ya….

So, onions, garlic, bacon, and broccoli are getting all cooked up.  Salt and pepper have been put in the mix.

Next comes some flour for only about 32 seconds or so.  Then some beef broth.  Recipe from The Neelys called for 4 cups of chicken broth.  I didn’t have chicken broth.  I had beef broth and only 2 cups of it. Oh well, let’s dump water in for the rest.  That bacon will more than make up the flavor the broth may be missed.  Let that all come to a boil until broccoli is tender.  Now grab your 1/2 and 1/2.  If you have seen my fridge more than once, you will soon know that I always have 1/2 gallon of the stuff in there.  Again, Neelys wanted 1/2 cup of heavy cream.  I dumped in 1 cup 1/2 and 1/2.  Makes perfect sense, right?

Now the fun part.  Get out the old immersion blender and blend that soup until it’s nice and creamy.  If you don’t have one, just put it in your blender or bullet.  Add more salt and pepper to taste and you’re good to go.  Wha la!  Fast, ‘healthy’ dinner done in 20 mins or so.  Hey, all the broccoli has to be healthy, right?