Winter is not only about the cold, or different sky colors which you couldn’t see any other season. It’s not only about the Holidays with all its lights, cheers, rustle of gift wrapping and holiday chores. For me, it’s mainly about the smells. Traditional lebkuchen spices smell, adult mulled wine aroma, the creamy smell of butter and caramel “sugar smell” of baked goods and, of course, citrus fruit.
I remember how you can smell the coming snow and then, closer to New Year it blends with the smell of mandarines. When I was a child the mandarins and oranges were considered treasure and it was impossible to buy them year round like now, even during the season it wasn’t so easy.
I remember how we saved the peel by letting it dry naturally. We added it to tea or fruit compote. We stopped doing this when shortage times were over.
Citrus fruit in all its glory
I’m always waiting for a citrus season here in Texas. There are lots of different varieties in stores like Central Market – oranges, different kinds of limes, tangerines, citrons, Buddha’s Hand, kumquats, whole nine. We adore Texas grapefruits and eat enormous amounts of mandarines. As you can imagine I don’t have problems to collect the peel.
Last year I made this citrusy candied orange peel using the whole fruit. You can read the directions here at my friend’s website – this peel is her brilliant idea. If you are not eating much of oranges use her recipe, you won’t have any leftovers.
Lazy and relatively fast adjustments
This year I was lazy. It’s a citrus season, remember? Citrons (or etrogs) had so strong and pleasant aroma I couldn’t resist. I bought just one etrog, some big oranges and a bottle of freshly squeezed orange juice. Citrons (etrog) are mostly peel, so it’s very easy to get lots of it. I ended up with two quarts of candied peel from one etrog and three oranges.
I also used more sugar in my syrup (1:2 juice to sugar ratio) and the only active work is to cut the peel and blanch it in boiling water. In the end, you have to control yourself not to eat everything. I don’t dry mine but you could.
I will use this peel for gingerbread cookies this year but it’s perfect for a variety of Christmas goods, think fruit cake, stollen or mince pies (remember, if you eat 12 during the searos you will be blessed all year round :))).
Citrusy candied orange peel
- 1 citron (etrog) large
- 3 oranges large
- 700 ml orange juice freshly squeezed
- 500 g (1.1 lbs) sugar
- Slice or cube citron peel. There is almost no flesh so it's very easy. Peel the oranges by quarters lengthwise to leave fruit whole and eat it later (cover to prevent drying up). Slice or cube it.
- To blanch the peel, cover it with cold water, bring to boiling, simmer 1-2 minutes and strain. Repeat three times. Start with cold water every time to make sure peel is not overcooked during the blanching. The goal is to remove bitterness.
- In a saucepan boil the orange juice until it's reduced by half. It will concentrate the flavor. Mix orange juice and sugar. Stir to dissolve sugar.
- Add blanched orange peel to orange juice and bring to boil on medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about an hour uncovered. Gently stir the peel and continue cooking for one more hour.
- Remove from heat and strain the extra syrup. If you don't want to dry your peel, put it in clean jars, let cool down and keep at the fridge.
I’d love to hear from you!