Thursday, September 29, 2011

Preserving Winter Fruit

Hey you, yes you in the kitchen, holding that bowl of orange peels left from the bounty of winter citrus that were nurtured so lovingly by your favourite producer down at the weekend farmers' market. I can see what you're up to. You were planning to upend the entire contents into the waste bin that'll undoubtedly go into landfill and contribute to our already warming atmosphere weren't you? 

Shake your head. Lie to me. That's right. 

There's something else that we can do with these that'll add another awesome secret ingredient to your pantry and have your neighbours peeking over the fence with jealousy as you entertain your friends and family with beautifully perfumed renditions of Italian classics.

Preserved lemon is an ingredient that I know you're familiar with. Tangy. Robust. A burst of floral citrus and acidity all in one. It's proved to be quite versatile, contributing to some of the great culinary masterpieces and traditional peasant dishes of our time, providing a subtle backdrop or Kill Bill-style smack in the face.

Luckily for us, orange peels have just the same potential if not more. Google preserved oranges and what you'll find is 2.47 million images of sugar-laden, diabetes-inducing goodness. This is not what I'm suggesting.

Preserved orange peel
orange peel (with or without pith, whatever)
cheap rock salt (preferably local, organic and sustainably harvested)
aromatic spices and stuff

fresh orange juice/lemon juice/apple cider vinegar to cover
Pay close attention. This recipe is deceptively simple.
Stuff a sterilised jar with orange peel and handfuls of rock salt.
Throw some cinnamon quills or peppercorns or bay leaves or whatever in.
Cover with juice and/or vinegar.
Screw on the lid.
Chuck it in a dark place for a couple of months.

Jars must be stored in a cool, dark place as excessive heat and UV light can cause degradation of citric acid which is BAD. Reconstituted orange juice and any other non-fresh juice that is heat treated during processing should not be used as heat destroys acidity.

Fresh lemon juice has a pH that lies somewhere around 2-3, fresh orange juice typically has a pH of 3.5 and apple cider vinegar has a pH that falls between 4.25 and 5. For safe preservation, the pH should ideally be maintained below 4.6. 

If using apple cider vinegar this can be achieved by mixing it with a substantial amount of lemon juice to increase the acidity. If you don't have citrus juice, you can try adding powdered citric acid (no more than 8% of liquid weight). Palm vinegar is an inappropriate dress to wear to this occasion. White vinegar will have you thrown out.

Preserved orange peel will take your dinner parties where they never dared. If a riot breaks out when you hit the bottom of the jar, don't blame us.

1 comment:

Related Posts with Thumbnails