Thursday, December 26, 2013

Dried Mandarin Orange Peel

Just tossing some peel grounds into your tea or even coffee is a likely winner.  What this does for us is allow us to transform a clear waste into something at least somewhat useful and consistent. 
Since we all end up with a lot of peels, it seems unlikely that this will solve the problem.

At least the thought is there and with a lot of folks trying, we will end up with food solutions to reward ourselves.

The grounds themselves remain palatable also even after been steeped.  I also suspect that the fresh grounds will work well if we candy them.  The strong essence of orange oil naturally flavors and blends with other flavors well.

How To Dry And Use Mandarin Orange Peels

December 7, 2011 by Erica 

I’ll happily throw all my locavore principles under a bus to get at a box of mandarin oranges. Maybe it’s nostalgia. Growing up, Christmas-time meant a box printed with exotic looking Chinese characters, and filled with loose-skinned, paper-wrapped oranges that were sweeter and juicier than any occidental citrus could be.

So when mandarin season rolls around, I can’t say no. We brought a 5-pound box into the house yesterday and have less than a pound left now. Obviously, I’m not the only one who likes these little oranges.

All that mandarin eating adds up to a lot of peels. Luckily, you can do a lot with the peels to get some extra milage from your purchase. As you would expect, pesticide, herbicide and fungicide residues are highest on the peel of oranges, so try to go organic and wash your fruit.

To keep enjoying that mandarin flavor for months, I dry the peels. Peel off any stickers, scrape away any excess white pith from the peel – with thin-skinned mandarins I don’t bother – and lay the peels in a single layer on a cooling rack. Let them dry for several days. If you live someplace extra humid (ahem, Seattle) you can throw the peels into a dehydrator or toss them into a very low oven. When the peels are shatteringly crisp, they’re done!

Once dry, the peels can be kept in hunks or ground. Grind batches of dried peels in a food processor– I can’t imagine any other way to get the job done – and be prepared for a bit of noise. Larger pieces can be added directly to braises, soups or broths, or dropped into the cooking liquid for rice, beans or other grains. Used judiciously they add a nice background flavor without overpowering.

Orange pairs well with many herbs. Rosemary is a fantastic flavor-companion, and any cooking situation in which you’d add rosemary you can probably throw a little dried mandarin peel in as well.

Orange-rosemary braised lamb shanks are fantastic in the dark days of winter, a loaf of whole wheat rosemary-orange no-knead bread would be killer, or whip up an orange-rosemary spice rub to enhance just about anything – game, poultry, pork, mushrooms, sweet potatoes or squash would all be excellent flavored this way.

 Want more proof as to the versatility of a good mandarin spice rub? No problem:

Sockeye Salmon with Rosemary-Mandarin Orange Spice Rub

When you add fish to a hot pan, press gently to ensure the entire surface of the fish gets nicely caramelized.

Flip once (only once!) and finish cooking skin-side down.

Served here with chanterelles, cooked in the same pan and also seasoned with Rosemary-Mandarin Orange Spice Rub.
Fennel is another good match for orange, and a fennel-mandarin rub would give you a fantastic flavoring for white fish, tuna, shellfish, salmon, pork, chicken or pretty much anything involving tomatoes. Seafood stew with tomato, fennel and orange? Oh, be still my beating heart.

Rosemary-Mandarin Orange Spice Rub (Psst…in a cute jar, this would make a great Christmas gift!)

This is just like the rosemary salt from back in March, but with mandarin peel. To make a fennel rub, just substitute 1/4 cup sweet fennel seeds for the rosemary. Chefs are into iteration. We love adaptable!

§  2, 5″ long sprigs fresh or dried rosemary, stripped from the stem
§  3-4 large pieces dried mandarin orange peel
§  1/4 cup kosher or coarse sea salt (it will be fine ground by the time you are through with it)
§  1-2 tbsp. whole black peppercorns, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a mini-food processorCuisinart, etc. I use the chopper attachment to my stick blender. Blend until the orange peel, rosemary and peppercorns are chopped into itty bitty pieces.
Just throw it all in there. It’ll be fine.

Still way too chunky, but maybe nice for a potpourri?

Perfect! Use for sprinkling on anything that needs fantastic flavor.

If you want to go sweet instead of savory, ground peel can be added to baked goods like cakesbiscotti or orange cheesecake. If a recipe calls for fresh peel, just use 1/4 – 1/2 the quantity of dried peel, depending on how orangey you like things.

As long as you’re making biscotti, you might as well drop a piece of peel into your favorite tea - now you’ve got the orange version. A cup of Mandarin Earl Grey and a chocolate mandarin biscotti? If you can get the kids to leave you alone for ten minutes, that’s a mini vacation in a cup and on a saucer.

If you get your hands on some of those thicker-skinned mandarins instead of the ultra-thin skinned varieties that seem more common now, and if you’re feeling really festive, you could candy the peels instead of drying them. If you do that, you’re just a few steps away from a totally homemade fruitcake!

Endless options – what do you do with your citrus peels?

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