Among life’s best moments: Free food to turn into something special
A productive morning. My favorite kind: Doing something I want to do.
After a rare sleep-in (9 a.m.!), I made sick husband an omelette and tackled a project that’s been nagging at me for a week. I had scored a huge bowl full of tangerines from my cousin’s Kane’ohe garden and, almost in the same minute, received a tiny bag of candied tangerine peel from my dear friend, Marylene Chun, complete with the recipe. Before the fruit began to go over, I HAD to find time to make these delightful and complex-flavored munchies, used by Chinese to flavor chicken soup and other chicken dishes as well as just to enjoy with tea.
As with so many old-timey recipes, candied peel is not difficult, just a bit tedious. First, count your fruit; you’ll need the number later, the minimum for this recipe is six ripe, unblemished fruit. (A little green blush is fine.) I soon got quite good at reaping the peel in large pieces, ready to cut. Hold the fruit in the palm of your hand, stem side down. There’s a little depression at the center; curl your thumb around and dig into that until it breaks. Then use your other hand to neatly tear the peel into five petals curving out from the fruit.Pretty.
Pull the segments out, cut away the little pith and the hard stem. Cut the peel into strips about 1/2 inch wide and 2 inches long (neatness not a requirement).
For every six fruit, place 1 cup water in a large soup pot and dump in the sliced peel. Bring to a boil. Drain. Repeat twice. This lessens the bitterness of the peel. (Meanwhile, place fruit segments in a food processor and process; you may need to work in batches. Drain through a fine sieve. Later you’ll use the sugar water from making the candied peel to sweeten this juice to taste. Chill. Left slightly bitter, it would be lovely in duck a l’orange or spicy orange beef; sweetened, it’s breakfast juice.)
Place a rimmed baking sheet on the counter and line with a rack (such as you cool baked goods on).
Finally, for every six fruit, place 1 cup water and 1 cup granulated sugar in a soup pot. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to a high simmer and cook 15 minutes. Drain. Place a bunch of sugar in a deep bowl and spoon in peels a cup or two at a time, roll in sugar.
Arrange the strips of fruit on the rack; this needn’t be a perfect, lined-up regiment but try not to pile them on top of each other. Allow to season for a day. Recoat a second time; (I used a sieve full of sugar, then turned the pieces around). Dry for a second day. Store in an airtight container or zippered plastic bag. Or freeze.
If you’ve got ants as creative as determined as my tribe, definitely freeze.