Garden, Plant, Cook!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Got Citrus? What to do with the peels.

Dear Folks,

I like to recycle as much as I can - and that includes food.  Using left overs use to be called "Made Over" - a nice old fashioned phrase.

It is citrus season in the valley and there is nothing better than peeling a sweet navel orange and enjoying it outside in the garden.  Then you have the peel left over.  What to do?  I toss some peels in the dish water in the sink (the essential oil helps the detergent work better).  I'm making up a batch of peel soaking in vinegar to make a cleaning solution (beside being edible orange essential oil is quite caustic so it needs to diluted in something), I chop some up smaller and toss them in the compost pile (they can take a LONG time to break down if you leave them in large chunks) and then I thought "candied orange peel" - a made over to really recycle this food!

The picture shows the candied orange peel and some which I dipped in chocolate.  Not the lowest calorie snack or desert option but really nice for a change.  You can candy any of the citrus.

4 good size oranges (you can use grapefruit, lemon or any citrus really).  I had about 3-4 cups of loosely packed sliced peel.
2 cups of organic cane sugar* for syrup
2 cups of water for syrup
1 cup of organic sugar for rolling

Rinse the peels well, and slice into about 1/2 inch thicknesses (this is really up to you as to how thin you want them.  I did NOT scrape the pith away.  The navels peel fairly easily.

Bring about 4 cups of water to a rolling boil, dump peels in count to 60 and drain.  Repeat twice.  This removes bitterness.

Bring the 2 cups each of the sugar and water to a rolling boil and dump in the peels. Stir, and drop to a low simmer.  It will take about 2 hours and the syrup will reduce down about half.  The peels should look a little translucent.  Remove from heat and let cool in syrup.

Arrange a rack or a large tray and a large container with the final 1 cup of sugar in it.  I air dried my peels over 2 days - inside.  You have the option of drying in the oven at 200 degrees until they loose most of their limpness.

Once the peels are cool in the syrup drain - reserving the syrup for another use.

I laid out syran wrap on a big tray and using 2 forks dumped bunches at once in the sugar, stirred and then moved to the tray repeating until all the peels were coated nicely.  Try for single layer but you can gently move them around during the drying to ensure all are dried.

Chocolate dipping is optional.  I used a good quality of dark chocolate (I'm going to try making my own in the near future with a recipe from my friend Kathy).

I saved the left syrup and am going to make orange chicken one night this week.

Store in a covered container for 2-3 weeks (if they last that long).  I did see that some people have frozen them with success.

*organic cane sugar is different from your typical white.  I don't use sugar much except around the holidays.  The organic is pressed, filtered and evaporated (less processing than white) and retains some of the molasses taste and color.

Hope you enjoy this 'food recycling' idea!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady