As old as me

The year I was born, my mom mailed in enough “proof of purchase” seals or possibly box tops to receive a dixie cup containing a miniature orange tree.    She gave me the tree some years ago, and I have variously under-watered it to the point of near-death and also cared for it regularly.  It spends half  of each year outdoors and half indoors, and every so often (not annually) it produces fragrant blossoms that sometimes result in tiny, sour fruit.

This past year was one of those years, and the tree came up with a total of 12 little oranges.  My husband asked to be allowed to eat one, and I let him.  He said it was very sour.  Huh.  Well, my mother once incorporated the fruit into a marmalade/jam with blueberries that was pretty yummy, so I thought I ought to try something with the remaining eleven.

Some, I brined like Moroccan preserved lemons:

Sliced mostly through and salted

In a jar, getting juicy

And sometime in the future maybe they will get eaten.  It is an experiment, but if it works for lemons it might work for these things.

The other thing I tried doing was candying.  I was inspired by the idea that one could do this with kumquats, and while these are a little bigger than kumquats it seemed like sugar could only improve their flavor.  So I made syrup and boiled them up and canned them, with a few cloves for fun.  I have no idea how I will use these in the future, but it may involve alcoholic beverages.  Speaking of which, I now have some leftover citrus/clove flavored simple syrup.  Hmmm.

Ready to be boiled

From left to right: candied, leftover syrup, brined.

Perhaps someday I will let you all know how they turned out.

4 Responses to “As old as me”

  1. richardmcgary Says:

    I love preserving lemons. They are fabulous in Moroccan cooking. Let me know how these oranges turn out.

  2. Ted Says:

    Good luck. I hope or turns out.

  3. Pam Hanke Says:

    I love this, Frances. You are really clever to think of things to do with little, sour oranges! Hope you and Greg are fine. Patrick and I head for Holiday Valley in Ellicottville to meet Pat, Bob, and Jeffrey Poth on Monday, and will then go to Poths’ in West Seneca from March 8 – 13th. We hope to see your folks over next weekend. My whole family is doing fine, goodness. Actually, Clemma Rose Prince (age 8) and her father are up in New Hampshire this weekend, skiing, and enjoying the adventures of being there while it sometimes is raining…. What a silly winter we have had. Love, Pam

  4. Doris Says:

    Your candied oranges remind me of the preserved kumquats my mother made one year. Kumquats are rather an oddity…they’re eaten with the skins on, and the skins are sweeter than the fruit! I don’t know where the abundance of kumquats came from (not from our grove…we didn’t grow them), but I seem to remember jars and jars of preserved kumquats produced that year (and never again). We all sampled them, but they weren’t a big hit, and subsequently they were stored in a high cabinet above the water heater. The cabinet was unreachable without a step stool, and none of us was particularly interested in climbing up to fetch any of the jars down. They languished there for what seems like years…and I don’t know when they were finally disposed of. They were not there when I helped with Mama’s move in the mid-90s.

    By the way…Dixie is the brand name for the cups. I guess orange trees just fit into their “southern” image, and being a Florida girl transplanted (happily) to Buffalo, I was delighted at the idea of having an orange tree in my northern home. I saved up the boxtops (or whatever) and sent them in. After awhile, I received a letter saying that the “Dixie Cup orange tree crop had failed,” but they would try again, and they wouldn’t forget me. I had forgotten about it by the time it finally arrived…but it has certainly lasted a long, long time. One of the best advertising promotions ever, don’t you think?

    Love you…and thanks for reviving the memories! Mom

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