First, an admission, I am rather prone to pigheadedness and once I get something in my head it’s exceptionally difficult for me to get it out. Lately it’s citrus. I went out and bought one of those rudimentary citrus-juicers. One glass of straight-from-the-press pink grapefruit juice and I was enamored. From there I got a bit carried away and, in true Bree fashion, ended up with 9 lbs. of citrus fruit on my kitchen counter.
I’d heard of them before, but recently I’ve read so much about preserved lemons on blogs like Sustainable Eats and Chiot’s Run that I just had to try my hand at making some. My only hurdle was that despite all that citrus I had no lemons! Grapefruits seemed rather large and maybe too bitter for preserving so I settled on using oranges. Somewhat unconventional perhaps, but if Robert Lambert can preserve Rangpur limes why can’t we do the same for oranges? Well, you can or at very least I did. We’ll see how they turn out in a couple weeks.
The beauty of these lies in how easy they are to make. I loosely based my recipe on other blogs as well as a fantastic book, Preserved by Nick Sandler and Johnny Acton.
You will need:
– about 5 oranges total (depending on how large and how juicy they are)
– spices (I used a few peppercorns and some coriander seeds, but after I was thinking some rosemary might be nice)
After washing the oranges, take 3 and slice off the ends before cutting each orange into rough quarters or sixths. Try to squish as many as you can into a sterilised pint jar sprinkling about a teaspoon of salt and some of your spices between each layer. When the jar is almost full take the remaining oranges and juice into the jar (or, if you are me, use your handy citrus-juicer and then pour into the jar!) You want the juice to cover the oranges completely. Top with some more salt/spices and twist on a lid.
Up until here most of the instructions I’ve read are pretty much the same but from here on out it seems like it’s up to you. To shake the jar or leave it? I’m a shaker, I won’t be able to just leave them alone for 3-4 weeks. To refrigerate or hide in a cupboard or leave out? I figure I’ll see how they turn out after three weeks on the counter, mostly because I love their little glimpse of bottled summer.
Now you are probably wondering what is in the other jar, and if you’ve made preserved citrus you may have lamented over the detritus of beautiful peel left from the squeezed fruit. Thanks to The Garden of Eating, I have found a solution — candied peel. See her blog for a wonderful description of how to make these but essentially you steep them in a simple syrup, drain, and roll in sugar before leaving to dry. They’ve turned out beautifully and I am very tempted to try dipping them in chocolate the next time around.