Canned Clementines: A Report

January 28, 2010(updated on October 3, 2018)

canned clementines

Last week, when I wrote about my recent experience canning clementines, a number of people (both in person and in the comments) asked about how well they stored and tasted. In the interest of science (and your ability to accurately stock your pantries), I cracked open one of my jars today, to eat with my lunch and see how well the clementines were storing.

opening clementines

The one thing that’s decidedly different about my canned clementines, when compared to the commercially canned ones, is that I didn’t remove the segment membranes. In fact, when I first pondered this project, I briefly considered hand-peeling each clementine sliver, in an attempt to make them as authentic as possible. But being that I’m essentially a lazy canner, I quickly abandoned that idea.

While looking into how the commercial guys do it, I discovered that they soak their mandarins in a lye solution, which eats the membranes away. Makes you think twice about buying those little cans, doesn’t it?

spooning clementines

So, how did they taste? They were good. They were juicy and flavorful. As one would expect, they had that slight cooked fruit taste that is the by-product of the boiling water bath, but with none of that metallic tang that comes with commercially canned fruit. They weren’t excessively sweet (since I used the lightest syrup possible). While eating, I was reminded of how important it is to use the best and most freshest ingredients possible when canning, as I could absolutely tell the different between a clementine segment that had come off a piece of fruit that was zingy with life and one that was a bit tired.

clementines and cottage cheese

All in all, I’m really pleased with my canned clementines. I plan on doing at least one more batch before the season is over. Next time, I think I’ll flavor the syrup with a bit of ginger and I’ll separate each segment, as opposed to canning them in halves and quarters (the texture of the individual segments was just slightly better than the fruit canned in clinging halves).

I’m delighted to have discovered a way to have my favorite fruit and cottage cheese lunch, without making too much waste or eating fruit that once took a bath in a pot of lye.

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27 thoughts on "Canned Clementines: A Report"

  • Thanks for reporting back on this – and lye! I’ll never look at mandarin oranges again. Time to break out the jars and the canner before they disappear from the grocery store.

  • I just learned that green olives are soaked in lye, otherwise they are too bitter to eat…

    In any case, what a great idea to can clementines!

  • Thanks for the update. I have a 5 lb. box waiting for me in th kitchen. It’s going to be my weekend project. I’m planning on making my clementines slightly spiced. Your notes are certainly helpful.

  • Fantastic. 🙂 I can’t wait to do mine this weekend. DD and I are doing them in the 1/2-pint jelly jars, or maybe evensome in 1/4-pint jelly jars, so that she can take them to school for lunches.

    An extra add-in that I through would be good is a couple of fresh mint leaves for each jar. I think I’ll try that out and report how it is.

    The oranges I did last week look so beautiful in their jars. Maybe we will try a jar tonight.

    I made brandied apple slices last weekend. They are fabulous on pancakes. 🙂 I used the Ball recipie for brandied apple rings. Didn’t use enough red food coloring to turn them dark red. But it seems kind of silly now. Next time, I think I’ll skip the food coloring.

  • I made these last Friday night and opened a jar for the kids and I yesterday. My kids spit them out and gagged. To me, they tasted more like grapefruit. They were a little bitter. I wonder if putting them in a heavier syrup would help. I even springkled sugar on them and the ids still wouldn’t eat them. Bummer because I canned 10 lbs 🙂 They look great though, I think I will keep eating them and try them on the cottage cheese.

    I’m so sorry to hear that your kids don’t like the clementines. It does sound like a heavier syrup might help next time. -Marisa

  • Thanks for doing the update. I want to give them a try because this your posts are the first I have seen on canning oranges other than in jellies and preserves. You continue to inspire and amaze me. Will you be my canning BFF for Valentines Day?

    Aww, thank you Frugal Fraulein! And, of course I’ll be your canning BFF for Valentine’s Day! 😉 -Marisa

  • Yipes! Lye!! Who even comes up with this stuff? I can’t imagine suggesting: “let’s soak our food in lye, and then we’ll see how that goes down”. Love your blog – thanks for the post!

  • “Sodium hydroxide (lye) makes food too alkaline for bacterial growth. Lye will saponify fats in the food, which will change its flavor and texture.” -Wikipedia. Food grade lye is used in the preparation but not necessarily the processing of: pretzels, grits, lutefisk, masa harina, hominy, olives, lye rolls, century eggs, some Chinese rice dumplings and noodles, and high fructose corn syrup to name a few. It’s a preparation process that has been used for centuries upon centuries. Using lye in foods sounds scarey and I’m all for avoiding additives but everybody has probably unknowingly eaten lots of foodstuffs that use lye somewhere in the process.

  • Well, I definitely learned something new today reading your post! Who would have ever thought that olives and mandarin oranges were soaked in lye! It certainly makes me want to can my own, but I LOVE olives. How do I solve that? Are we talking about ALL olives or just the black canned ones?

    Thanks for a follow up post on this. The tips are extremely helpful!

  • Funny how the thought of lye of my mandarin oranges makes me want to hurl. But the thought of lye in my lutefisk doesn’t bother me at all – in fact it wouldn’t be lutefisk without the lye.

    Will be buying an extra box of Darling Clementines at the grocery store tomorow.

  • I was wondering how your clementines would turn out. Hearing about the lye really makes me pause. I’m excited to try my own canned clementines now! Thanks!

  • I always eat cottage cheese and fruit for lunch. I usually go with pears or peaches-when in season. I will have to try your clementines!

  • I’m sorry to hear that Carrie’s kids didn’t like the canned clementines but maybe they were comparing them to the commercial ones. The home canned ones are different. I love them. They are slightly sweet but still have a tang to them. I eat them with cottage cheese and a sprinkle of toasted, slivered almonds. Yum!
    Thanks for writing a great blog.

  • Your pictures, food, recipes and blog are – in a word – beautiful. I’m so glad I found you 🙂

  • Lye!! Surely something I want floating around my intestines…Thanks also for the helpful reminder about fruit freshness imperatives when canning whole fruits (and pieces.)

  • Okay, as an official blog sponge who just sucks up info from all the wonderful canning blogs, and goes about manically canning by herself, never saying a peep, your Clementines have driven me to comment! After your first post I got so excited I went right out and bought 5lbs, brought them home and put them up per your recipe. I had to finish two store bought cans before I allowed the freshly canned Celmentines to be opened…well, I just finished lunch, cottage cheese with home canned mandarines…OMG!!!!they are so-o-o good I can’t stand it! I am going out today and getting 5lbs more, because these are definitely not going to last…thank you thank you!

  • Canning the clementines with DD (yesterday) worked out great. We peeled two boxes together and had a really nice mom-daughter conversation. She was tired after pealing, so I did the rest.

    Two boxes of clementies took almost two batches of lite syrup. Of the two boxes, we made 24-1/2 pints. I’m not sure DD will take the actual jars, but maybe dump the contents in a tupperware, and take it that way.

    Adding the mint was ok, but I’m not sure if I will do it again. I tried one jar this morning, and it was very mild. But I’m sure it will get stronger as time goes on.

  • Canned 5lbs last night with my husband and we had a great time and had 6 beautiful pints on the table to look at this morning. I look forward to cracking them open in a week or two. I myself used a heavier syrup in making these as the light syrup I used to can my peaches this summer makes my 3 year old curl her nose and avoid eating them. I wish so much I would’ve started canning before I had her so her palate would’ve been accustomed to the lower sugar syrups.

  • Becky – I hear you on the child palate issues. I just don’t buy a lot of the store stuff any more. And when I open my canned, I always make my daughter take a couple bites. I’ve found that if the store stuff is no longer an option, she eventually gets used to the home canned stuff. And amazingly, the day has finally come! My daughter refuses to eat grocery store applesauce now!

    I put up 10 lbs of clementines this weekend – got 14 pts. I made a light syrup, but added about 1 cup of lemon juice and 1/2 a can of OJ concentrate. I wanted a little tartness in my syrup to (hopefully) balance the sweetness of the clementine.

  • Thanks for the update! I love the photo of the clementines and the cottage cheese–it’s so delicious, and so 1978.

  • LYE!!! Holy cow! Why isn’t THAT on the list of ingredients? I don’t buy them myself, but I did get them a few times when my babies where just starting solids. Nice.

  • This is a very nice article about preserving fruits. It is really interesting. I am just concern with the vitamins contents of the fruit, Does it degraded when it undergone this process?