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Preserved green satsumas

Our bush-like satsuma tree had so many fruit on it that the branches were threatening to break. “Time to thin down.” The prospect of throwing out, even into the compost, nearly half of the satsumas made me feel guilty. That is, until I realized I could treat the underripe fruit like lemons, and preserved them.

preserved satsumas in a jar

What follows below isn’t so much a recipe as Rather Vague Guidelines, mind you. My first and current batch are curing, so I’ll need to update this post as to how the preserved satsumas actually turned out. But it’s a start.

Update, 8 January 2012: These go nicely stuffed inside a roasted chicken, as well minced and cooked with roasted vegetables. Also provides nice seasoning in stews like vegetable tagine.

I used jars that were previously used for 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of peanut butter and honey. WARNING: I don’t process these, I just keep them in the refrigerator. My preserved lemons that are over a year and half old are still fine, but y’know, YMWV.

Got any favorite uses for preserved citrus? Please do share! I tend to use preserved lemons in savory applications, like stews and inside poultry cavities. It’d be great to expand their cooking horizons. 🙂


  • A bunch of green (underripe) satsumas, or similar mandarins
  • Lots of fine-grained salt
  • ginger, sliced
  • green & black peppercorns
  • cinnamon stick, broken into 1-inch pieces
  • star anise, broken into single “arms”


  1. Wash the satsumas and discard any attached leaves or stems. Make sure your jars and caps are clean, too.
  2. Make four longitudinal cuts in each fruit, without completely cutting through. That is, the four “slices” should remain attached at the center “spindle” of the fruit.
  3. Sprinkle a tablespoon or two of salt in a jar.
  4. Stuff in as many fruit into a single layer — two to four, or more, depending on the jar and fruit size.
  5. Toss in one or two slices of ginger, one or two cinnamon pieces, one or two star anise arms, and/or three to five peppercorns. How much (or little) spice you add is completely up to you! (Although I’d imagine you might wish to add a bit less for satsumas than for lemons, as their flavor is more delicate.) Add another tablespoon or two of salt.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you reach the top of the jar. Cap off and store in the fridge overnight.
  7. The following day, you might be able to cram in some more fruit. If yes, do so and top off with another tablespoon or two of salt. Cap off again, store in the fridge, and wait (mostly).
  8. Turn the jars, right-side up, upside-down and vice versa, about once or twice a week for the first three weeks. The satsumas should be cured enough to use after about three to six weeks, but the flavors improve upon further aging.

To use

  1. Remove any seeds.
  2. Rinse as much of the salt away as possible, without losing any (where possible) rind, pith or pulp.
  3. Chop or mince, according to your use needs.

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