Growing the Desert Garden

Welcome to the Desert Garden, with garden coach Tyler Storey, where we talk about everything having to do with gardening and landscaping in the Desert Southwest. From composting to Cercidium and agaves to arugula — we'll cover everything you want to know to grow your own beautiful Desert Garden.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Citrus Month: Candied Minneola Tangelo Peel

Candied Minneola Peel ©Tyler Storey

As I mentioned in my previous post on Minneola Tangelos, the Minneola peel makes an excellent candied peel, especially useful in baking and in desserts. In my ongoing efforts to make it easier to actually eat all this stuff in your Desert Garden, here's the recipe for making the peel. It ends up with a flavor and texture almost identical to those candy orange slices, but better, of course. The recipe takes about two days to complete, but most of that time is cooling time; the actual preparation time is pretty short.

Candied Minneola Tangelo Peel
Makes a variable amount

Ingredients:
Minneola Tangelos fresh from your garden
Sugar
Baker's sugar (optional)

Equipment
Citrus juicer, stockpot with lid, wooden spoon, colander, measuring cups, sharp knife, metal spoon, cooling racks

The first step in making the peel is to invite your friends and neighbors over for breakfast, and serve them fresh-squeezed Minneola juice. The juice is excellent, but develops an off flavor if stored in the refrigerator more than a day. If you want to make any quantity of peel, you'll need lots of juiced fruit, so you may as well share it with friends.

Pick as many tangelos as you'll need to serve fresh juice to your guests; plan on a minimum of two per guest if you use little juice glasses. Tangelos don't detach easily from the tree, so use scissors or clippers to clip them off the stem. Rinse the tangelos under cold water to remove any dust, gently using a soft vegetable brush, if necessary.

Cut each tangelo in two and juice it; an electric juicer is easier, but not necessary. You'll notice one of the great advantages to the Minneola: the inside membrane is very loose and will fall free of the rind. Reserve the juice for drinking, discard the inner membrane and juicer pulp in your compost container, and place the empty halves of each tangelo in the stockpot, adding cold water to cover.

Set the covered stockpot to boil over moderately high heat; when it reaches a full boil, remove it from the heat and set aside, still covered, for an hour or two, until it has somewhat cooled and the rinds have mostly sunk in the water. Drain the peels, discard the water (you can put it on the compost pile), and wash and rinse the stock pot.

Use a spoon to scrape away any remaining fibers that cling to the stem end of each rind, and the softest part of the pith; don't worry about removing it all, it will become part of the finished peel.

Next, cut each half in half again, cutting out and discarding any stems, then cut each piece into lengthwise quarter- to half-inch strips. Return the strips to the washed stockpot and measure in enough fresh water to just barely cover.

Add one-half cup of white sugar for each cup of water, and stir to dissolve. Return the pan to the stove and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring once or twice. When it reaches a full boil, remove it from the heat and set aside, uncovered, overnight or until completely cooled.

Return the pan to the stove over moderate heat, add the same amount of sugar (one half-cup for each original cup of water), and bring again to a boil, stirring occasionally. At the full boil, remove the pan from the heat and set aside uncovered, again until cool.

Once again return the pan to the stove, this time adding one quarter-cup sugar for each original cup of water, and again bring to a boil. By this point the syrup should be somewhat thick, and the peel translucent. If not, lower the heat and simmer for a few minutes, stirring a few times, until the peel is translucent. Remove from the heat and let the peel cool briefly.

Put some white sugar or baker's sugar in a small, wide bowl, and place some paper towels under your cooling racks. Drain the peel in a colander, reserving the syrup.

Pick up a few pieces of still-warm peel at a time and toss them with the sugar in the bowl, coating every surface, then place them on the racks to dry. Repeat with the balance of the peel.

Let the peel dry overnight in a warm, dry place, then seal them in labelled plastic bags, or a glass jar; stored in the refrigerator, it will last indefinitely.

Tips:
  • Make it easier on yourself and don't try to scrape all the pith out of the blanched peel; removing only the soft mushy part will leave you with a better end product.
  • Don't add all the sugar in the first boiling or the peel will be tough; the idea is to permeate the peel tissues with an increasing sugar concentration.
  • Taste a (cooled) piece of peel after the last boil. If it's not sugared all the way through, add more sugar and repeat the boil/cool one more time.
  • Don't let the peel boil for more than a minute; Minneola peel is a delicate flavor, and it will end up with an unpleasant "cooked" flavor if boiled too long.
  • The final syrup will have too much retained citrus oil to use for anything else, but you can put it on your compost pile as a carbon source.
  • What do you mean you "don't have a compost pile"?

Use the candied peel, chopped, in any recipe that calls for candied orange or lemon peel, or in place of raisins. Seriously: raisins.

Tyler

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