Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sicilian Candied Meyer Lemon Peels


After juicing, zesting 100 of the 170 lemons, bagging, labeling and freezing, and of the remaining 70 Meyer Lemons, removing the pith, blanching, cooling, blanching, cooling, blanching, cooling, draining and then candying them in a bath of sugar for 65 minutes (yeah..I know it's 20 minutes more than I say so in my recipe)....then carefully hand rolling each slice in granulated sugar and then placing on drying racks and allowing to cool for at least 5 hours...I prefer overnight and into the next afternoon and then packing in glass jars.... I am DONE with the Meyer Lemon Peels. Now don't get me wrong..I am NOT complaining here. They are a time consuming labor of love and the end result is this spectacular burst of intensity in your mouth. I just hadn't planned on that many.

My sister-in-law, Kathy, is a gleaner. She goes to the Valley with a friend of hers and picks buckets and buckets of citrus from the abundance of lonely fruit laden trees. Some they give to shelters, some they give to friends and some they keep. This week, Kathy made my eyes pop out with her tremendous generosity of citrus gifts; Oranges, Meyer Lemons and Grapefruit; bags and bags and BAGS of fruit. How could I say NO....though I knew the work that was in store. I just can NOT throw out the peels... even if it meant that I were to zest at least 1/2 of them, which I did.There's so much juice that I pour it into labeled quart sized bags and stored them in our new freezer chest that we just purchased for the side of beef we bought from a friend in Durango, CO. Just before my friend, Harriet died, she asked us to come over and pick as many tangerines from her tree as we could, knowing it would our last time in all these years of enjoying this monthly invitation from her...and so in a combination of joy and sadness we did. Now we have tangerine juice to last the winter, peels to candy, which I prepped and then froze as well as enough zest for the months to come.

Tonight...I'm working on the grapefruit. Removing the pith is time consuming. I see recipes where people leave the pith on and some of the fruit or they take the fruit off and live some of the pith..but the true Sicilian way is to remove it all and then blanch and cool it 3 times to remove the bitterness. The beauty comes in as you're candying it and it's close to completion; when you see the transparency of the peel with the glaze of the simmering sugar, truly looks like a stained glass window. It's at that moment when I remember why all the other work was worth it; it's a work of art, the color of the peel so vibrant..truly beautiful to experience. I was hoping to get it done sooner so as to ship some off to a friend's mom who likes grapefruit...but you can't rush the peels... and so they will be candied on Tuesday and ready to ship out the day after Christmas...a lip smackin' way to start the new year!
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