Sunday, January 1, 2012

Candied orange peel, rose maze

Life is sweeter with certain nonstaples: rose petal jam, poppyseeds in a can, candied ginger, dark chocolate, dried fruit, marizipan, candied orange peel.

One of my favorite memories: as a little girl, at an elderly aunt's, with my young mother, little brothers, on a hot sunny, summer afternoon, picking up a feral kitten, so wee, so new its fur was downy, who climbed my entire height with its exquisitely sharp, tiny claws.  It sprang away.  My aunt led us with baskets to her rose maze, tall hedges serpentined this way and that, laden with fragrant blood red, pudding maroon roses as big as my hands. An out house stood nearby. I felt very strange, destructive, plucking off their petals, never having desecrated a living thing before.  She told me to try not to bruise them.  When our basket were full, this is more fuzzy, she cooked them on top of her wood fueled stove with beet sugar, spring water (I imagine).  Intoxicating, rose petal jam served warm on yeasty bread she baked anticipating our visit.

I always loved the surprise of candied orange peel in the dough of paczki, cookies, noodles with poppyseed, sprinkled on ice cream with bits of dark chololate, big strips dipped in melted dark chocolate (thank you Blommer chocolate factory store).  This year I made my own candied orange peel.  I read that grapefruit and lemon peels can be remade the same way.  I watched various youtube videos and a couple of recipe websites to piece it together.  Funnily, some did not explain what simple syrup was or the proportions of sugar and water, one to one as it turns out. I would only use organic fruit peels for this.

So this is what I did:

Peeled 4 organic navel oranges, served fruit to family.
Boiled the peels for a long time in sauce pan with water to cover, drained, changed the water, boiled again, drained.
You can do it 3 times, each time takes away more bitterness.
Let cool.
Peeled away the white pith, leaving thin orange skins.
Cut into small pieces sized for future baking purposes. Had I wanted to dip them in chocolate I would have left in long strips.
Tossed in sauce pan with simple syrup to cover. Simple syrup is 1 cup water to 1 cup sugar, heated and melted. This is plenty if you are working with 4 peels. Increase amounts in same proportions to cover whatever amount you are working on.
Cooked for a long time, stirred when I remembered.
Turned off when the pot was almost dry. Sooner would've been fine too. Can use syrup on pancakes and such. Or eat out of pan with spoon.
Dumped out orange peel pieces onto a  flat plate of sugar. 
Tossed around so all the pieces were coated.  Some did clump together. I was not too careful about leaving syrup behind in pot.
Dried on the plate for a couple of days.
Stored in fridge in glass jar.

This is an easy thing to do a little at a time if you're peeling fruit for a few people.  You can also store peels in the fridge in a plastic bag until you accumulate a larger amount.

Happy New Year to you.  Carry sweetness and light in your heart.
Strew some candy on the floor of any house you visit today. 

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