Homemade Satsuma Orange Marmalade

Homemade Satsuma Marmalade

Just as the taste of a homegrown tomato cannot compare to the grocery store version, so too is it with homemade marmalade where the flavor pops on your tongue.

Satsuma Marmalade

Satsuma Marmalade

This recipe is simple, delicious and a great recipe for beginning canners. 100% deliciousness in a jar that goes perfectly on toast, saltines, chicken, pork, with coconut shrimp, and, and, and…
Tie a pretty ribbon around the top and it makes a great gift at any time.

Ingredients:

  • 12 Satsumas (about 2.5 pounds, can substitute Mandarin or Clementine oranges),  quartered and thinly sliced, discard any seeds.
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice, discard any seeds
  • 6 cups of water
  • 4 pounds of sugarTools: jelly jars, candy thermometer, funnel.

Equipment:

  • Saucepan
  • Candy Thermometer
  • Jelly Jars, Lids, and Rings
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Ladle
  • Funnel

1. Wash the fruit with warm water and scrub with a brush to remove any dirt, grime or sprays that may have been used on the fruit beforeSimmering sliced Satsumas harvest.

2. Quarter and cut the satsumas into thin slices.

3.  In a heavy saucepan add water, all the fruit and lemon (zest and juice). Bring to boil and then simmer for 35-45 minutes until peel is tender.

4. Prepare your jars.

5. Remove pot from heat and add the sugar. NOTE: the rinds will stop softening once the sugar has been added, be sure it is to you desired tenderness before adding sugar.2016-12-06-09-41-30-small

6. Over medium heat, bring the fruit/sugar mixture up to boiling – stirring constantly. Cook to the jellying point (222 degrees F on a candy thermometer). Once the temperature starts rising over 212 degrees, it will take an additional 30-45 minutes to get to this point.  Do not rush here as your marmalade will not set if you are impatient.

7. Ladle hot marmalade into jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Wipe jar rims and adjust lids. Process for 5 minutes in a waterbath canner.

8. Check seals when cool and label. ENJOY!

Satsuma Marmalade going...going...gone

Satsuma Marmalade going…going…gone

Snow, Ice, and Strawberry Dreaming

Some people love winter. They say things like, “Snow! Sweaters! Hot chocolate!” and smile. I’m not one of those people. I don’t own the proper clothing — it seems crazy to buy expensive boots that I might need for one week out of an entire year. No. I’m a thin-blooded southerner who handles heat far better than cold!

For me, the absolute worst part of winter is February. The majority of this week in Chattanooga the temperature is unlikely to rise above freezing. At my house there is a thin blanket of snow on the ground. The few, sad flower stalks leftover from last year in my garden are coated in ice. The little pond is frozen over.

icy garden

What is a gardener to do?

Plan, of course. And dream. I’m using part of this week to draw a map of the berry patch my family will build this summer. We have blueberry bushes, wild raspberries and blackberries to tame, and we are ordering strawberry plants. We will have a much larger garden this year than usual so there is quite a lot of planning to do. This forced “thinking time” is probably a good idea!

Eventually, we hope to be able to offer a “U-Pick” berry option, so we are trying to think about the future as well as the upcoming season. With all of that in mind, I’m going to plant the strawberries in gutters. I will set three foot tall posts every ten feet or so, drill holes in the gutters for drainage, and attach them to the posts.

Then, I will fill the gutters with soil and strawberry plants. The benefits of this system are that weed control will be much easier, no bending to pick berries will be required, and it will be easy to snip the runners.

There are drawbacks, as well. Watering will be an absolute requirement. There are several irrigation systems that could work, and I will be investigating them this summer. One intriguing design I’ve looked at included a second set of gutters running beneath the one with the plants in it. The bottom gutter would be filled with water with some sort of mechanism that would allow the roots to wick up water.

Strawberries themselves are a promise of spring. Already, we are getting some pretty good Californian strawberries in the grocery stores. That alone is enough to give me hope that the ice, snow, and freezing temperatures will soon be gone!

Here are some places you can learn more about growing strawberries in gutters, if you are interested:

http://www.hometalk.com/3481953/planting-strawberries-in-old-gutters

http://www.harryhelmet.com/strawberry-gutters-forever/

http://www.organicauthority.com/organic-gardening/grow-a-gutter-garden.html

 

The Final Toll of the Killing Winter in Dava’s Garden

It was a rough winter. I didn’t realize just exactly how bad it was for my garden until the last couple of weeks. Here’s the final list of victims:

  • rosemary (this one hurts the most)
  • brugmansia
  • ALL of the strawberries
  • 2 varieties of canna lilies

Canna Carnival - purchased at the Green Thumbs Galore Driveway sale in spring 2013.

Canna Carnival – purchased at the Green Thumbs Galore Driveway sale in spring 2013.

  • a fancy orange coneflower
  • a cream and pink colored rose

I bought it at a grocery store for $2.

I bought it at a grocery store for $2.

  • columbine

A gift from Belle, 3-4 years ago.

A gift from Belle, 3-4 years ago.

  • 2 succulents

Of those, I didn’t fully expect the brugmansia or one of the succulents to make it. The columbine, rosemary, rose, and about half the strawberry plants were very well established, so it was surprising they didn’t make it. From what I understand rosemary plants across the region were hit hard.

Plants come and go — I’ve had some that survived for several years, then suddenly, inexplicably died, so I’m not mourning the loss of these too terribly much. This is the first year I’ve lost quite so many to cold weather, though.

Next year, if conditions are brutal again, I may have to implement Belle’s leaf blankets!

Along with the many garden losses, there were some surprising survivors, too:

  • hostas, even though there was a late-season frost
  • all of the daylilies
  • a gorgeous penstamon, which is about twice or three times bigger than last year!

penstammon

  • all of the native purple coneflowers, which are about to explode into bloom!

coneflower buds

  • the English wallflower, which smells so nice
  • a baby hydrangea
  • some tender, newly planted sage

sage

  • the grapes, which were moved in the very early spring

grapesThere were many other survivors as well, but these (especially the sage!) surprised me partly because they all seemed to really take off this spring. Another survivor was my peony, which didn’t bloom, but does have healthy, strong-looking foliage.

Did you suffer losses due to the cold? Were there any super-tough survivors?

Lenten Roses from Drab to Fab

Trimmed lenten rose plantsJust like cars, tools, and even people need regular
service, so do the Hellebore plants in our gardens.  Hellebore untrimmedAfter Mother Nature visits with freezing temperature,  lenten rose plants will look like this picture to the right.   Ratty, crispy brown foliage with hints of flowers just below. Your plants need your help!
Get the clippers or garden scissors, maybe your knee pads and go to work.
Giving your helleborus plants a hairtrimming helleborus cut is quite easy:
Bundle up 3-5 ratty looking stems and snip them off with your scissors somewhere close to the base of the plant. Go all around the plant, snip, snip, snip, until all that is left are the flowers and your plants should look similar to the picture on top, healthy and ready to delight you every time you walk past.
Enjoy your naked hellebore!

Iris plants after a hard freeze in USDA Zone 7

Have you taken a walk in your garden lately?

This winter has brought us quite a few ‘firsts’ in our garden.  For those readers living in the northern states, plants that are hard dormant are a fact of life.  For us, however, this January was the first time in 20+ years that I have seen hard dormancy in many plant species in our USDA Zone 7 garden.
It’s a scary sight to unaccustomed eyes. On a warmish day, one may be quite tempted to pull back leaf cover and maybe even dig a little.  Just a little, to check if plants are still there. Trust me, they are.  Give them a little time and they will pop right back up and will thank you if you have not disturbed their roots.  But even if you did dig a little, they will most likely pop right back up as soon as the sun comes out.

I couldn’t resist and dug a little in one of my beds.  ALL the greenery had completely frozen and disappeared from these iris plants in January – look, they are peeking back out already.

Iris plants after hard freeze

Are my plants dead?

My plants here in Tennessee had completely forgotten what a hard freeze feels like.  Last week, they all got a reminder. When I walked around this morning, they were showing off their displeasure with those arctic temperatures. Do your plants look like this too?

Frozen plantsDead.  They looked DEAD!
After a deep breath, my brain said “Remember, these are perennials!”
My eyes took over and yelled “They still look DEAD!”

What to do? First I looked below the brown and crispy leaves of the Hellebore.  Lo and behold, there are little buds and green sprouts. For the more woody perennials, I took out my trusted plant tester – my fingers – and felt the stems.  Stems that feel cool to the touch are alive, dead stems feel warm.  Go ahead, go outside and feel some of your plant stems, pick up a dead branch from the ground to feel the temperature difference between a live and dead branch.  Hey, isn’t that cool?

Now I just have to remember to be patient and let the plants do their thing.  Resisting the temptation to cut back all the unsightliness is difficult, very difficult.  The time for trimming will come AFTER the plants sprout out for good this season.
Pass me the knitting needles for a bit longer.

Frozen Plants second look

Plants are not dead.

 

Leaf blankets for plants!

This has been the coldest week here in Tennessee that I remember and we’ve lived here in Chattanooga for more then 20 years. This region is broadly included in that vague area known as ‘The South’.  Cold, for us, generally is a night in the 10’s followed by sunshine and days in the 40s soon after.
Not this week.  For many plants, these temperatures below 0 degrees Fahrenheit predicted for tonight will be a true challenge to some of our plants because we did not get any snow.  Why does snow matter?  Snow is Mother Nature’s heating blanket for the garden.  Snow insulates and protects plants when the temperatures are frightful.
If you have been following our facebook page, you’ll know that we love to push Hardiness Zones and grow subtropicals such as canna and brugmansia plants outside.  What to do?

Here’s one solution: We distributed the bags holding our fall leaves (and still awaiting their spot in the compost) on top of our semi-tender plant stumps. Voila – plant blankets – and hopefully they will keep the canna nice and toasty for the rest of this winter.

Plastic leaf bags as plant blankets.

Plastic leaf bags as plant blankets.