With Georgia’s proximity to Florida’s citrus groves, we Southerners are so fortunate to taste the first fruits of our neighbor state’s delectable cash crop. Arteries of interstate commerce such as I-75 and I-95 zoom into the Peach State from the Sunshine State and bequeath our roadside stands and markets with the best citrus all through the season. The Holidays and into winter for my part of Dixie are marked by the freshest of oranges, grapefruits, and tangerines coming through this neck of the woods to other destinations further north. A friend of mine down in Indian River said once, “You Georgians get the best of our famous produce because we ship it out and ya’ll get it first!” On behalf of my fellow Georgians, we gladly accept!
Ambrosia, salads, juice… our citrus list goes on and on but a Farmer’s favorite is to combine the sweet and tangy flavors of oranges and kumquats with the tartness of cranberries for a delicacy worthy of placement on any table. Delicious with pork, chicken, fish, and on sandwiches, my Citrus and Cranberry Conserve will surely wake up any dish with a fresh zing of flavors, color, and luscious texture.
Somewhere between cranberry sauce and orange marmalade, this garnet hued delight is delicious on biscuits and yeast rolls as well. Try paring it with salty country ham on a biscuit and revel in the riot of complementary flavors this combo produces. Depending on your sweet tooth and the sweetness of the citrus, you can prepare this dish as sweet as you like – personally, I like to keep it somewhat tart, tasting the essence of the fruits and not being overwhelmed with sugary sweetness. A bit of vanilla tones down the tartness and plays an underlying role throughout the palate. Bits of orange rind and kumquat add some physicality to the conserve’s consistent texture as well.
If only for the colors alone, this is worth the slightest effort it takes to prepare, for the glorious combo of reds and oranges are simply so – glory filled shades of jewel tones! Truly easy to prepare and delightful to share with friends and family, this conserve, I hope, becomes a staple in your home as it is in mine all winter long. From this Farmer’s favorite I-75 fruit stand and kitchen, enjoy this complementing conserve with any meal.
Cranberry Citrus Conserve
- 3 blood oranges segmented
- 1 teaspoon of said orange zest
- 6 whole kumquats
- 4 tangerines or tangelos segmented
- 1 teaspoon of tangerine zest
- 2 bags of whole cranberries, about 8 cups
- ¾ cup of sugar
- Tablespoon of good vanilla
In a lidded pot, add the segmented citrus and kumquats to cranberries and begin to cook on a medium low heat, stirring as to not scorch the fruit.
Add sugar and vanilla once fruit is warm and stir sugar into fruit until dissolved. Have a cup of water on hand if it needs to be thinned, but only if a thinner consistency is desired. If too tart, add more sugar, Karo syrup (clear), or orange marmalade to sweeten.
Cook down into “conserve” state…somewhere between warm jelly and cranberry sauce. Keep stirring and make sure mixture doesn’t stick… serve warm, room temperature, chilled, or freeze for later. Also jars well as a gift. Enjoy!