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Celebrate Citrus Season in Sacramento

Posted on January 21, 2013


Sacramento’s citrus trees are teeming with juicy fruit, and now’s the time to savor their luscious bounty. Stop into your nearest farmers’ market, Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op or a grocery store with a good local produce selection to find fresh blood oranges, mandarins, Meyer lemons, kumquats and grapefruits plucked from our region’s trees.


Have fun experimenting with blending the citrus’ juices – our family loves to mix pink grapefruit, orange and tangerine juices together for a unique breakfast beverage. Sprinkle citrus zest into quick breads, barbecue sauces, vinaigrettes, pancakes and winter stews; or whip up a batch of flavorful sorbet or citrus curd (I like to serve the curd with fresh-baked shortbread or ginger cookies) for a simple dessert for friends.

(Note: If you’re interested in learning more about lemons, Slow Food Sacramento is offering a hands-on lemon seminar on February 23rd from 6-9pm. Featuring Kathleen Albiani, a culinary Instructor at the Art Institute, the seminar ($16 per person) will focus on Meyer lemons - items to be prepared include lemon curd, preserved Moroccan lemons a chicken and green olive tagine, lemon marmalade and limoncello. For more information, visit Slow Food Sacramento’s website at http://slowfoodsacramento.com.)


One of the tastiest ways to celebrate the citrus season is by making (and sharing) candied citrus peel. Here’s a great recipe from epicurious.com:


Candied Citrus Peel

Yield: Makes about 2 1/2 lb


12 lemons or 8 navel oranges or 5 pink grapefruit

7 1/2 cups sugar

6 cups water

Food coloring (optional): 3 drops yellow for lemon; 2 drops each of yellow and red for orange; 2 drops yellow and 1 drop red for grapefruit

Special equipment: a candy thermometer



Quarter fruit lengthwise and remove peel (including white pith) in 1 piece from each quarter, reserving fruit for another use.

Cut peel lengthwise into 1/3-inch-wide strips (if using grapefruit, cut peel in half crosswise first). Put peel in a large bowl and cover with cold water, then soak 1 hour. Drain in a colander.


Blanch peel:
Transfer peel to a wide 4- to 6-quart heavy pot. Add cold water to cover by 1 inch and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, then drain in colander. Repeat blanching process 2 more times. Cover peel once more with cold water and simmer until skin side is tender, about 30 minutes, then drain in colander.


Cook peel in syrup:
Return pot to stovetop and add 6 cups sugar and 6 cups water. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Wash down any sugar crystals clinging to side of pot with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Add food coloring (if using) and boil syrup, uncovered and undisturbed, until it registers 220°F on thermometer, about 30 minutes. Add peel and simmer over low heat until translucent, about 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let peel stand in syrup, uncovered, at room temperature 8 to 12 hours.

Return syrup with peel to a boil and boil, uncovered and undisturbed, until it registers 226°F on thermometer, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let peel stand in syrup, uncovered, at room temperature 8 to 12 hours.

Return syrup to a boil once more and boil, uncovered and undisturbed, until it registers 228°F on thermometer, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let peel stand in syrup, uncovered, at room temperature 8 to 12 hours.

Dry and coat peel:
Reheat syrup with peel over low heat just until syrup has liquefied (peel will have absorbed most of syrup), then drain peel in colander. Immediately spread peel, separating pieces, on 2 metal racks set in 2 shallow baking pans and dry, uncovered, until just barely sticky, 8 to 24 hours.

Spread 1/2 cup of remaining sugar on a plate and roll each piece of peel in sugar to coat well, then transfer to a sheet of wax paper. Add more sugar as needed to coat remaining peel. (Pour sugar through a medium-mesh sieve occasionally to remove bits of peel and clumps of sugar.) Dry sugared peel on wax paper 1 hour.

• Candied peel keeps, layered between sheets of wax paper, in airtight containers at room temperature 3 months.