Canning has many virtues, but amongst its greatest must be how easy it makes gift-giving. Nestled in my closet, between some nicely folded towels and my bag of bags (yes, I have so many handbags that I store them in another extra large bag) is a stockpile of jars. And while the number of cans I have tucked into this corner at any given time can range from a meager two or three (right after the holidays to thirty or so (right before holiday present-wrapping), I get great security from knowing that even if I postpone getting someone a gift until the last minute, I’ll always have something I can give them in my closet, just a stretched-out hand away.
The second greatest of canning’s virtues? How easy it is! This one may be debatable, but, after making a dozen or so different recipes, I am convinced you will only be making fussy recipes if you choose to. The return on recipes that are made by quickly throwing together a few ingredients in a pot and letting them simmer is often unbelievable, and I find little reason to go hunting down exotic fruit or spices for my canning–it’s just not necessary.
Enter the orange creamsicle in a jar. This recipe is easy to make, and lovely to look at–it really extolls the virtues of canning. It’s a wonderful shade of orange, speckled with vanilla beans, and requires a mere four ingredients. Pair it with some brie and crackers, or a scone mix and nice butter, and you have the perfect little bag of goodies for holiday gift giving!
Adapted from Food in Jars
Makes about 4 cups
4 cups orange juice
4 cups sugar
2-3 vanilla beans (split and scrape out the innards—or, you can use the equivalent in vanilla bean paste)
1 pouch liquid pectin
In a large pot, bring the orange juice, sugar, and vanilla bean innards to a boil and cook over high heat, stirring frequently. Keep boiling until the mixture has reduced by about half, and reaches 220 degrees on a candy thermometer. Once the jelly can withstand a good stir and still stay at 220 degrees (this will take as long as half an hour from when you start cooking), add the packet of pectin. Cook for an additional 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove the jelly from the heat, and put in jars. If preserving, leave ¼ inch of headspace, and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Once 10 minutes have passed, remove from heat and allow to sit, undisturbed, for 24 hours before checking seals and storing.