There’s something incredibly satisfying about canning your own food. It’s a wonderful way to make the most of seasonal produce, and it lets you enjoy your favorite fruits and vegetables year-round. Today, we’re diving into the world of canning mandarin oranges, specifically Cuties. These little gems are sweet, juicy, and perfect for preserving.
Note that the process for canning oranges will be the same regardless of whether you can Cuties or some other type of Mandarin oranges. However, I’ve found that Cuties peel easier, and because of that, they are my preference. But follow these steps to can whatever type of oranges you have.
What You’ll Need
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I’ll be using my Nesco canner (Amazon) to can the mandarin oranges. My Nesco can can up to 5 pints. If you’re canning more or less, adapt the amount of oranges, jars, and syrup accordingly.
- 3 pounds of Cuties (mandarin oranges)
- 5 pint jars
- 6 cups of water
- 1 cup of sugar
Note: You can use plain water and skip the sugar completely. The 6 cups of water and 1 cup of sugar make a very light syrup. Since oranges can be a bit bitter due to the pith, I like using a very light syrup.
Step 1: Preparing Your Oranges
Start by peeling your Cuties. The skin comes off easily, and you’ll be left with a pile of bright, vibrant oranges. Next, break the oranges into sections. I like to divide each Cutie into quarters before putting them in the jars. This makes them the perfect bite-sized treat for later.
You can, however, put whole Cuties into the jar, but less will fit into the jar. Because of that, if you choose to can whole Mandarin oranges, you may not be able to fit an entire 3-lb into 5 pint jars.
Step 2: Making the Simple Syrup
While you’re preparing your oranges, start making a light simple syrup. Combine 6 cups of water and 1 cup of sugar in a pot and bring it to a boil. Stir until the sugar is fully dissolved, then turn off the heat. Let it cool while you finish preparing your oranges. This light syrup will add just a touch of sweetness without overpowering the natural flavor of the Cuties.
Pro tip: Follow the ratios recommended by the National Center for Home Food Preservation to make a simple syrup that fits with your preferences regarding how heavy or light you want the syrup to be.
Step 3: Filling Your Jars with Cuties!
With your oranges prepared and your syrup cooled, you’re ready to fill your jars. Pack the orange quarters tightly into the jars.
Then, pour the cooled syrup over the oranges, leaving about a half-inch of headspace at the top of each jar.
Debubble the jars, and then check the headspace again to make sure you still have 1/2″ headspace.
Pro tip: Be sure to wipe the rims before putting on the lids. Doing so helps ensure a good seal.
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Step 4: Water Bath Canning Mandarin Oranges
The Nesco canner (Amazon) is the canner that I’ve been using for years now. I simply love it! If I had to buy only one canner, this would be it. I love that it can handle quarts and can water bath and pressure can. It’s the perfect size, and is often available at a better price than other electric canners. If by chance you can’t get the Nesco, check out the Carey Canner, also available on Amazon. These are the exact same canners, so get whichever one is cheapest at the time.
One thing that I love about canning Mandarin oranges is that you don’t have to process them long.
Water bath can them for 10 minutes, adapting for altitude. In my case, due to my altitude, I needed to add an extra 5 minutes on, so I canned mine for 15 minutes.
Pro Tip: Read my article, How Altitude Impacts Canning for a chart on how to adapt the time you water bath can based on your altitude.
Water Bath Canning in the Nesco Canner
If like me, you have a Nesco Canner, here are the steps to take to water bath can in the Nesco:
- Place the canning rack in the bottom of the canner.
- Place your jars filled with Mandarin oranges on the rack. You’ll be able to fit a maximum of 5-pint jars in your Nesco canner.
- Add in enough hot water to cover the jars by about an inch. Note that there is a maximum fill line on the inside of your canner. That will be about an inch over the top of your pint jars.
- Close the lid and turn it into the closed position.
- Make sure your valve is in the exhaust position.
- Put in the time (10 minutes, adjusting for altitude), and press start.
- Once you see a steady stream of steam, press start again. That will start the countdown timer. Note that it can take about 30 minutes for the steady stream of steam to start.
Once the time is up, carefully remove the jars from the water and let them cool. You’ll hear the satisfying “pop” of the lids sealing as they cool. Once cooled, check the seals and store in a cool, dark place.
And there you have it! Canning Mandarin oranges is a straightforward process that yields delicious results. These canned mandarin oranges are perfect for adding to salads, desserts, or enjoying straight from the jar. Plus, they make lovely homemade gifts.
Remember, canning is about more than just preserving food—it’s about capturing the essence of the seasons, enjoying nature’s bounty, and creating something truly special with your own hands. So why not give canning Cuties a try? Your future self will thank you when you’re enjoying these sweet treats long after their season has passed.