Tuesday, January 1, 2008
HOME AND ORANGES
I live on 5 acres smack in the middle of Southern California Wine Country, halfway between San Diego and Los Angeles. Surrounded mostly by dirt (good for gardening and off-roading), citrus, grapes and other products I mostly take for granted. Butting up against the back of our property are rows of Ruby Red Grapefruit and juice orange trees. When they bloom twice a year it is absolute heaven and that is the true smell of home for both my daughters. For the last 23 years all I did was juice the fruit, but no longer!
I have discovered the joys of creating my own candied citrus peel. I made a batch of it this year with the winter crop and it was heads above any store bought products. I used it to make some biscotti, and then brushed the syrup on the formed loaves instead of egg white. The candied orange peel biscotti was the best I have ever made, as matter of fact I plan to make another batch today to use up what is currently in the refrigerator, there is another bucket of oranges on the back porch waiting for my attention.
Needless to say, come spring along with all the dehydrating and canning I plan on doing, canning some candied citrus peel is high on my list. (I actually don't have to wait for spring since the fruit is falling off the trees now) On my first go at it, I used a knife and peeler to get the rind off the fruit, with the method I used to candy it, having some of the pith on it didn't matter too much. After the 30th orange you start questioning whether it's worth the trouble, that's when The Don had a brainstorm (few and far between I might add). Use the hand cranked apple peeler/corer. It was a brilliant idea!
I had a batch of lemons on hand, using the apple peeler made short work of it. My main concern was that it would dig in too much to the pith, it didn't, and it made perfect and uniform lengths of peel ready to be candied. If you happen to have access to a nice amount of citrus please don't waste the peel. NOTE-apple peeler only works on the lemons.
CANDIED CITRUS PEEL
Oranges, Lemons or Grapefruit
Equal parts Sugar and water Water
There are no measurements because this is totally up to the supply of fruit you have on hand. Use you preferred method to remove the peel from the fruit, don't worry too much about the pith since you will be neutralizing its bitterness in the cooking process.
Put the peel in a pan with cool water, bring to a boil and drain. Repeat blanching the rind at least 4 times with the oranges, more with the lemons and grapefruit. Making sure to always start with a pan of cool water. You will know it's ready when the taste of the peel is not so bitter and it will start to take on a bit of a translucent look.
Make a simple syrup of equal parts white sugar and water, bring to a boil. Once the sugar is dissolved, add your parboiled citrus peel and simmer for a few minutes before turning burner off. At this point you can either can it or cool it and pour into a freezer weight zip lock bag and refrigerate.