Canned Clementines for the Can Jam

January 21, 2010(updated on October 3, 2018)

Dear friends, I have an update on this recipe and it’s a bummer. I don’t recommend that you can clementines in this fashion. I was all excited about being able to can clementine segments, but I found that when they sat on the shelf for a while, the membrane imbued both the fruit and the syrup with an impossibly bitter flavor. I’m leaving the post up, so that there’s both background and a helpful warning. 

bowl of clementines

Around the time I hit the fourth grade, I felt certain I’d eaten enough peanut butter sandwiches to last me a lifetime. This was in the days before peanut allergies ran amok and no one could ever imagine a lunchroom in which peanut products would be banned. However, peanut butter and honey on nutty whole grain bread was my mother’s lunchbox staple, so when I announced my resistance to her near-daily offering, she wasn’t sure what else to pack for my lunch (oh, I long for the days when my midday meal was someone else’s worry).

colander of clementines

Happily, we quickly found a couple new items that satisfied my restless palate. For the next three years, I took two little plastic containers to school with me every day in my lunch sack (until I decided that it was time to move onto a new lunch item). They were filled with either vanilla yogurt and maple-sweetened granola (kept separate to prevent soggy oats) or cottage cheese and canned mandarin oranges.

clementine peels

To this day, I still regularly eat both those combinations (sometimes I add a dollop of jam to the yogurt and granola combo, if I’m feeling particularly indulgent that day) and during college, I returned to peanut butter with a hunger I’ve yet to satisfy.

As I pondered recipe options for the Can Jam, the idea struck that I could take a stab at canning my own mandarins instead of opening one of those squat, 9-ounce cans once a week (one of the problems with purchasing conventionally canned fruit at the grocery store is that you then have to transfer the leftover fruit to a different container. When you can it yourself, you can just screw the lid back on and pop it in the fridge).

peeled clementines

I learned a couple things about myself as I stood in my kitchen last night and peeled five pounds of clementines. The first is that despite being right-handed, I’m only able to peel using my left hand. Second was that I have a number of microscopic cuts on the tips of my fingers and that though it’s not quite as acidic as lemon juice, clementine juice is also quite stingy.

pre-processed clementines

For this project, I adapted the recipe for canning orange segments in So Easy to Preserve (my personal canning bible) and was happy to discover that it was one of my easier canning projects to date (possible to undertake at 9 p.m. at night without compromising my 11:30 bedtime). I use the lightest syrup possible, just 3/4 cup of sugar to 6 cups of water, to keep the fruit as virtuous as I could.

I had initially planned to can them whole, but quickly found that if I wanted to maximize my jar space, I needed to pack them in halves and quarters (clementine bits are very springy, so it was possible to cram quite a few into each jar).

canned clementines

After filled the jars with my light syrup, I used a chopstick to get the air bubbles out, wiped the rims, applied the lids and screwed on the rings. I processed the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes (remember that you don’t start tracking the time until the water returns to a boil). The jars did siphon a bit of syrup out into the water as they processed, but that behavior is normal with whole canned fruit.

I haven’t broken into one of the jars yet. I think I’ll wait until there aren’t so many clementines in the markets so that I can treat myself to a burst of lovely citrus when it’s mealy, sad or just generally unavailable. I canned this batch straight, without any additional flavors. However, I do think I might do another batch while clementines are in season and pop a cinnamon stick or a star anise into the jars (oh! or maybe a bit of fennel seed).

Happy Can Jam!

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49 thoughts on "Canned Clementines for the Can Jam"

  • What a great idea! I love mandarine oranges too! I thought about making clementine marmalade, but settled on lime marmalade instead. I may just have to try this one. Thanks for sharing!

  • Hmm. Do you think you could use juice instead of the sugar syrup? I’ll have to do some research because I really want to can some now!

    I bet they would be delicious with the cinnamon!

  • what a lovely post marisa. and a lovely idea to can segments of citrus in a light syrup. …and who doesn’t remember those small cans of ‘mandarins’ and yes with cottage cheese! 🙂

  • I hate to admit it, but I still buy those little cans. My 5 year old is near addicted to them. I’ve thought of canning them myself, but the thought of removing all those segment skins scares the bejeezies out of me. Botom line – I’m curious how yours come out with the segment skins still on.

    Unsolicited comment re: cinnamon sticks. I canned sliced pears this past summer. Used apple juice and 1 cinnamon stick in each quart jar. The cinnamon is really overpowering. Next year I will use 1/3 to 1/2 of a cinnamon stick per quart jar.

  • Cathy, oh marmalade! I’ve yet to make any this year, but it is on my list.

    Megan, I’m not sure about using juice instead of syrup. I’ll look into it and get back to you.

    Aww, thanks Tigress!

    Daisy Mae, I will definitely report back on how they turn out with the segments skins on. I briefly considered stripping them away ala the canned mandarins, but then realized that I Could. Not. Bear. that much work.

    And thanks for the tip about the cinnamon sticks. I have a batch of peaches from last summer that I canned with a stick each. Now I’m wondering if they’re actually edible.

  • Oooo, these look great! I have also always loved the cottage cheese/mandarin orange combo but have lately become weary of the sugar-syrup in the canned kind. This is a much better option, thanks!
    P.S. I’m making your blood orange marmalade tonight and I’m counting the hours until work is over so I can start canning!

  • This looks amazing! My friend andrea (of and I were commenting about how great it would be to can clementines as apparently both in the US and Germany they are generally sold in huge pallets this time of year (and we are both probably getting the same Spanish clementines). We shied away as we have both read non-organic skins are not so great to use though the remainder of the fruit is fine; this is the perfect solution!

    Happy canjam, so glad your blog clued us in to it!

  • This is flat out brilliant. I love it! As soon as those clementines go on sale…
    (this cold has been impossible for dry skin! Ouch!)

  • There are so many moments when you’re canning that are “Duh! Why didn’t I think about canning this?” We almost need to rewire our thinking to get away from what we’re told we can’t make at home. Thanks for the great idea!

  • What a fantastic idea! I love reading all the recipes and learning new things! And… thank you for posting about the canjam to begin with as you are the reason I found out about it! 🙂 Such fun!

  • I had a heaping box of clementines and a nub of ginger. It seemed like a great pair. I sliced the ginger and put it in the syrup to add the flavor, but did not keep the ginger in while I canned. I let the cans sit for a week before digging in for a taste. The citrus is great with a bit of ginger tang.

    I am thinking this treat will go great with a cheesecake….

  • how SMART. i’m amazed at the things i think i still must buy at the store. perhaps i study the cans at the store to get ideas for what i can make at home.

  • Ok, I’m too lazy to Google this, but are mandarin oranges really clementines?

    Also, I’m curious how they get all the skin off each segment of mandarin orange in the can. That has always seemed magical to me.

  • Alix I hope the blood orange marmalade turned out well.

    Diana, sounds like a great way to get some ginger flavor in there without overpowering things.

    Lauren, clementines are a variety of mandarin oranges. And, according to Wikipedia, commercial food packers use a chemical process to get the skins off.

  • I’m curious too about how the unskinned segments are. I might just have to get a box of clementines to find out.

  • I am sure you could use fruit juice (orange, tangerine, apple, etc) when canning Clementines. You mention 10 minutes processing – it looks like this is for pints…but at what altitude??? My information calls for boiling hot syrup poured over raw fruit (grapefruit-pints and quarts) and processed for 10 minutes at sea level – any altitude over 1000 feeet needs extra time. See info in Ball Blue Book: The Guide to Home Canning and Freezing. Correct processing time is very important for safety.


  • I’m not canning mandarine oranges, but I am making scottish marmalade!! I just bought 16lbs (!!!) of seville oranges, and I’m having a marathon canning session this weekend to get them all done. I’m making at least one batch with a good slug of single malt scotch in it, I can’t wait to see how it turns out! The recipe I’m using calls for 7lbs of sugar to 5lbs of oranges, I just gave it a taste and wow does it ever have bite! I think after this weekend I’m not going to have to make marmalade for a few years……

  • HI Marisa – I just found your site and glad I did! starting to become addicted to canning and preserving so your ideas will definitely come in handy. i’ll be making some orange marmalade this weekend, but hope to turn some of that into cranberry-orange marmalade later. yum!

  • Hello! I am interested as well as to what the texture will be with the membranes. I made pickled oranges (with fennel seed!) for the can jam, but the cooking time is so long that the fruit part of the orange slices breaks down a lot (hence, the membranes don’t have much texture). Looking forward to hearing how they taste!

  • You really inspired me this weekend. We are in the middle of a blizzard here in Canada and I could not think of anything better than to spend the day doing some puttin up. I did some clementines as well as some mini mandarins, which are so tiny you could cram a whole bunch in the jars. Thanks so much for the great idea!

  • This is awesome. I made a Clementine cake the other day and I STILL have SO many of those cuties left. Now, I know what I’ll do with them. Thx for the inspiration. I finally got my post going to with Orange & Pinot Noir Jelly. Look forward to jamming/canning with ya this year. Cath-

  • My grandson (and I) love those mandarin oranges and clementines. I think that a bit of ginger would be a great flavor for the canned clementines.

  • I just read the wiki article on mandarin oranges. Ick – they use lye to remove the skins. How disgusting. I think my existing cans are going in the food pantry bin this week.

    The more I learn about commercial food production, the more homemade I do.

  • Great idea. I wouldn’t have thought about canning mandarins, but why not? I’ll look for them next time I’m at the grocery. Thanks for the great idea.


  • I made this with navel oranges. I added a tablespoon of triplesec to each pint and used a very light syrup. It was a B#@! to peal all of those oranges. I’m waiting until next week to try them. Letting them mellow. Next week, DD and I are canning many boxes of clementines in 1/2 pint jars (jelly jars) for school lunches.

  • Just found your site, as a link from another blog. Fabulous! I’m definitely going to get a bunch of clementines when I go shopping. It looks like you canned yours in pint jars; can you tell me how many pint jars you got (approximately) from your clementines (I’m guessing 5-lb box?) That would be very helpful.

  • Margie, I live at sea level, so all my processing times are for that altitude. Thanks for the reminder that I need to be more specific about that.

    Libby, I’m going to try one of the jars sometime this week, to be able to report back on what the clementines are like with the membranes in place.

    Caroline, I got seven pint jars from the 5 pound box of clementines, with just a few left over.

  • Has anyone tried this with calamondines or calamansi instead {kumquat x mandarin}? What is the shelf life ? Can they be stored at room temperature or do they need to be refrigerated?

  • What a neat idea! They look beautiful!
    You were really nice to your Mom – I would never take the same lunch twice to school. LOL

  • I just found your site… what an inspiration. I was going to can some dried pinto beans, but made a big batch of mandarin oranges. I’ll have to break into one soon (not cool yet) just to see how they turned out. I love your site, keep it.

  • Hi! Was so glad to stumble onto this site (AND this recipe!); I put up about 30 lbs. of mandarins/clementines (AKA “Cuties”) coupe of months ago and wasn’t disappointed with the first batch I opened two weeks ago: a light simple syrup with lavender from the garden and a healthy dose of Habanero peppers. Yummy on cream cheese with crackers and in a salad; I used some of the syrup in a dressing with olive oil and rice vinegar. Tangy and great! Also did batches with fresh tarragon, rosemary, star anise (all separately) and several with combos of the three. Even got bold at the end and did one quart of combo-clementines, Blood Oranges, star anise and tarragon. Haven’t opened it yet but the star anise has turned the syrup a gorgeous brown-reddish hue that looks like smooth honey.

    Have just bookmarked your site and will tune in regularly. Cherry season is coming soon in Northern CA (SF) and I got bitten by the canning bug last year when I pickled some cherries; all our friends are clamoring to reserve 2010 efforts! May get a little bolder this year!

    Thanks for being here; you’re a wonderful inspiration!

  • I love your site; it’s so informative. I just had to comment about peeling left-handed. I do the same thing! Everything right-handed, but peeling citrus, it’s left-handed for me.

  • Hi there! Urgent Question here… I had never canned citrus before I read your post for the Can Jam back in January. I promptly tried my hand at clementines and was pretty pleased with myself. I decided it was time to finally try the fruits so I popped open a jar this afternoon. I’m nervous… there is a white formation on the fruit, particularly between each section (I canned halves) and looks like snowflakes. I’m worried this is yeast or some other type of spoilage? The fruits taste a bit like honey (though I did not use any honey) & sort of bitter (I’m assuming from sligth bit of pith left of fruit). Am I being neurotic? I have taken photographs if there is a place I can email them to you for better reference?

  • In reply to Jenny, on May 17…I, too, canned a bunch of mandarins this year. I just broke into mine and they also had a bit of white on them. It thought it was just the pith, perhaps a bit dissolved from being in the syrup. I agree that they are bitter. In a not super-pleasing way. If you get past the skin and just taste the “pulp” of the section, it tastes fine, but eaten as a whole, it doesn’t taste that great. I’m bummed. Did I do something wrong? Should I have used a heavier syrup (I used a medium syrup). I tried to get as much pith off as possible. Thoughts?

  • I tried canning the clementines and although they look great, the flavor is not! They are bitter and don’t have that great citrus flavor? I think it must be from what little pith is left on them? I loved the idea though!

  • Looks great! I can any kind of citrus with the same light syrup (occasionally with fruit juice added too!). Infusing the syrup is my favourite part, I use tea, sometimes vanilla beans and sometimes just spices!

    1. Unfortunately, they were not so good. Your comment reminds me that I need to put an update on this post and advise people that if they want to can citrus, they’ve got to take the membranes off. They were horribly bitter.

      1. I have a kitchen full of free mandarines and clementines and am lining up recipes for the next few days including tangerine curd and clementine powder. I’m thinking about doing mandarine segments but am confused as to whether or not you recommend them. In this post you mention that they’re bitter but in another said they were good (jan 2010, clementines: an update).
        Did you try more than one recipe or did they not “age” well? Thanks cynthia

  • I’m so all over this! I have always longed to sip cold morning mimosas while savoring the rising of a hot July sun. Alas, Clementines are out of season by then & fresh clementine juice is REQUIRED for my personal tastes. Thanks so much! I’ll think of you fondly some hot July morning.

  • Oh I’m so glad I didn’t just print out this recipe but pinned it instead. I was gearing up to can some today, but instead I think I’ll make some marmelade and juice. Thanks for the update and bitterness warning. Much much appreciated. Happy jarring. ♥

  • I’ve been told that the bitterness comes from the white pulp and strings that stick to the fruit. I have had decent luck scraping all the white membrane and strings off before sectioning them, then carefully removing all the strings and doing a final inspection. I’ll even scrape some of the white off the center of the wedges before packing them into half pint jars.

    1. That is true! It is the pith and membrane that makes them bitter! I’m glad you found a way to make it work for you.