homely orange pursuits


It has to be said that I am not very good at throwing things away. The gene—or neurosis—was handed down from a previous generation (‘Enjoy your symptom’ as Slavoj Zizek exhorts us to, I very much do). I sometimes wonder if I did not come to this life specifically to shelter unwanted and discarded objects and to invent some higher purpose for them. It is only an issue when it is time to move, but the satisfaction I get from indulging my hoarding and transforming muscle far outweighs the pain of packing and transporting. 

Citrus skins should not go into the compost as they are too acid. Dried up they make wonderful fire lighters, candied, they make wonderful things to eat as is, dip into chocolate or add to cakes (see recipe below). This year, with the last oranges of the season, with a wealth of jars of candied orange, grapefruit and lemon skins already on my shelves I found other games, such as the above prayer beads strung along the string from flour bags, and do they smell nice ! 


I also cut them up and loved how depending on the incision their shape was transformed as they dried. I love putting some intent and letting things take their own course. 




Use organic unwaxed oranges, evidently.

Cut into strips or with a cookie cutter as above (sore on the hands, I used a cork to press), I soak them in water overnight and then simmer them until completely tender, adding water to cover them as it evaporates. I then let the water reduce to a small puddle at the bottom of the pot and add about the same weight in organic fair-trade cane sugar. I bring them very slowly to the edge of the boil. I switch them off immediately and leave them to cool completely. I repeat this process a few times over the next couple of days—adding a little water if necessary—until the skins look shiny and translucent and properly candied—you may have to taste one to ascertain candying result, tough.

Let drain in a colander and make sure to keep the syrup which you can either reuse for your next batch or keep in a jar in the fridge for later use (pouring onto a cake, sweetening rice pudding, adding to a poultry marinade… any other suggestions anyone ?). The skins are then left to air dry flat for a couple of days, my daughter absolutely loves the task of arranging them in equidistant neat lines.

They will keep pretty indefinitely away from direct sunlight. Delicious with a cup of coffee and delicious dipped in fair-trade organic bitter chocolate—you can then call them ‘orangettes’.

One last use for orange skins : the goats eat them, they eat organic banana skins too.


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