I was born into the citrus industry. My grandparents owned orange groves; my mother planted her own small grove at our house; my stepmother even works for Florida’s Natural Orange Juice; I learned to clean and assemble Micro-jets before I could drive. However, not one time in my adult life did I ever consider having my own citrus trees. When my husband and I first looked at our house, while real estate shopping, we noticed the orange and lemon tree, and we were both passe’ about it. He grew up in Ohio, and the only thing he knew about citrus was buying pretty, shiny oranges at the supermarket. I, on the other hand, saw the trees and literally, thought, “hmmm…cool.”
It wasn’t until our first fall/winter in the house, when the fruit ripened and our boys got excited, that I even began considering the possibilities of having my own supply of fresh citrus. As the fruit ripened, it was convenient to send the kids out to pick an orange to zest for a recipe, and it became a game for the boys to take a bowl or bucket into the backyard and see how many oranges they could pick for juice. Now that we’ve had the fruit trees for a few years, I find myself relying on the fruit and planning recipes around the crop.
As the fruit ripened and there was so much that the boys were drinking orange juice at every meal, I decided that it was time to make jelly. The original idea was to make lemon jelly. Eli, my 5 year old, had other plans. He picked (or had his brother pick) all of the navel oranges left on the tree and proceeded to juice the lemons, oranges, and even a couple of red grapefruit he found in the fruit bowl. When all was said and done, Eli and I had made several jars of “citrus” jelly.
32 oz. citrus juice (he used a mix of lemon, navel orange, and red grapefruit)
4 ½ c. sugar
1 ¾ oz. powdered fruit pectin
Sterilize jars and lids in boiling water for 5-10 minutes.
In a soup pot, combine juice and pectin. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Once boiling, add sugar and return to a simmer, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and skim off any foam using a metal spoon.
Pour jelly into hot, sterilized jars, filling to ½ inch from the top. Wipe the rims of the jars with a moist paper towel to remove any jelly. Top with lids and rings.
Place the jars in the bottom of a large stockpot or canning pot. Cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil (process) for 5 minutes. Remove the jars with jar tongs and place onto a towel covered surface. Allow jars to cool. As the jars cool, the lids will pop as they seal. Once the jars are cool, press each lid to be sure that the seal is tight.