Candied Citrus Peel

You have a recipe that asks for candied citrus peel, but you can’t find it.  It is actually pretty easy to make on your own with just a few ingredients.

First you have to decide which kind of peel you want.  You will need:

2 Grapefruit, or 3 Oranges, or 4 Lemon, 1 1/2 Cup Sugar and 1 Cup Water.

Using a knife, cut the ends off of your fruit.  Next, gently cut off this colored skin of the fruit, leaving most of the “pith” (the white stuff) on the fruit.  Cut the peel into pieces about 1/4 inch wide and as long as you want.  I usually make them about and inch to 2 inches long.

In a medium pan, bring a pan filled about 2/3 full of water to a boil.  After the water is to boiling drop in your peel. Boil for about 10 minutes.  Remove the peel with a slotted spoon, and place on a wire rack that has been set inside a baking pan.  Let cool and dry for about 15-20 minutes.

While the peel is cooling, remove all but 1 cup of water from your pan and add 1 cup of sugar.  Heat on high heat, until all sugar is dissolved.  You can stir occasionally to prevent burning.

Add your peel to the water/sugar mixture and continue to boil until the syrup begins to thicken, about 8-10 minutes.

Remove the peel from the hot liquid using and slotted spoon, and place back on wire rack, making sure that none of the pieces are touching. Let cool and dry for about an hour.

Place a half a cup of sugar into a bowl, and toss the peel in the sugar until well coated.  Let dry for about another hour, then place into tightly sealed container.

These will keep at room temperature for about 3 weeks.

Can be used as a palette cleanser, dip in chocolate for a sweet treat, finely chop and add to muffin or bread batter,  or garnish desserts.  The sky is the limit for these sweet treats!

Plunging Peaches

You love eating fresh peaches, but when you are baking the skin can get really tough.  Removing the skin is quite simple if done correctly.

Place a large pan of water onto the stove to boil.  Fill a large bowl with cold water and a few ice cubes.

With a knife, cut an X just through the skin on the bottom of each peach.

Place each peach into the boiling water for 20 seconds (Ripe) to 60 seconds (Thicker Skins)

Remove the peaches from the water and place into the bowl of cold water and peel off the skin.  If the skin is stubborn, dunk it back into the hot water for another 20-40 seconds, then back to the cool water.

If the skin still won’t come off, you can use a vegetable peeler to finish removing the skin.

Slicing Strawberries

You picked up a couple of flats of strawberries that you need to prepare.  Only problem is that if you use the egg slicer you are going to be sitting in the kitchen forever!

If you have a food processor with a slicing blade you can cut that time to minutes!

Clean and hull your strawberries as normal, and place them in a colander or on a towel to dry.

Set up your food processor with the slicing blade.  Drop 3-5 strawberries into the chamber and gently press the plunger to activate.

All of your berries come out sliced the same thickness and ready for use in your recipe or for freezing.

Trash to Treasures

When you are preparing vegetables, are you really using them to their full potential?  Can you use more and throw out less?  Here are a few idea’s for using up a bit more of your vegetables.

Broccoli – Shred the stems and use in soups, salads, or slaws.

Citrus Fruits – Before you use the fruit, was the outside and zest the peel.  You can then freeze the zest for use in recipes later.  You can even place in ice cube trays, fill with water and freeze.  When you make up a some ice water or a mixed drink, grab a few for some extra flavor.  Lemon cubes are great in iced tea.

Beets – Beet greens are edible and very flavorful like spinach.  You can also cook them like spinach.  You can even shred a bit of your beet root and add it in for extra flavor.

Carrots - You left the carrots too long in the fridge and they are now wilted.  You can refresh them by dropping them into some ice cold water and letting sit for several hours. You should be able to use them in soups or stews if they do not refresh all of the way.

Herbs - Herb stems, the non-woody kind, can be saved and used in soups and stew broths.  You can freeze if they are not going to be used right away.  The next time that you make your soup or stew, drop in the broth and let simmer.  Don’t forget to pull them out before serving though.

Mushrooms - Mushroom stems and pieces can be cut up and used in salads, soups, and sauces.  You can even add them to ground beef and make flavorful burgers and meat loaf. If you have too many you can tightly seal them and freeze them.  These pieces are great when creating a base for soups and stews.

 

Pretty Pears

Pears are just now getting ready to come into season. Don’t forget that if you have a tree, a pear will not ripen completely on the tree.

Pluck your pears from the tree when they look fully formed. You can then place them in a fruit bowl or paper bag until ripe.

One they are sufficiently ripe, store in the refrigerator.  You can check a pear to see if it is ripe by pressing gently with your finger near the stem. It should give just a little.

Storing Strawberries

You just picked up some strawberries from the market, but you are unsure about how to store them once you get home.

Empty the containers and check all the berries for soft spots and mold. Cut off bad spots or discard bad berries.

Place them in a single layer on a sheet lined with paper towels and refrigerate.  Strawberries will keep fresh for about 2-3 days in this way. When you are ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator and rinse the berries under cool water.  Once cleaned, remove the green caps/hulls, and prepare for your recipe.

Not ready to use them right away?  Remove the green caps and hulls, rinse well and dry.  Place on a baking sheet and put in the freezer.  After about a hour, after all of the berries have frozen, place the berries into freezer bags, then back into the freezer. Frozen berries will stay good for about 4-6 months.

Cold Treats for Hot Days

If your kids like fruit popsicles as much as mine, you know how expensive that they can be to buy. Here is a great tip to help you save some $$ as well as giving your kids a great nutritious snack!

The next time that you are shopping, go down to your discount store or cooking supply store and pick up a plastic popsicle maker.

Now you can make your own easy inexpensive popsicles that your kids will love.

You can fill it with Kool Aid, Fruit Juice, even leftover juice from strained fruit that you used in a recipe!

Have fun experimenting, and it is great to see what ideas your kids have also.

You can even drops in pieces of fresh fruit to make them more interesting!

Baking Banana’s

You have some banana’s but you have no idea when to use them in a recipe and for what.

I usually buy banana’s when they are still bright yellow with some green streaks.

These fresh banana’s are great for cooking treats like Banana’s Foster or Banana Splits.

When the banana is no longer green, but mostly yellow with some small flecks of brown starting to show up, now is the prime time for eating whole.

When the skin goes from mostly yellow to lots of brown splotches, you now have banana’s that are ready for baking into breads or muffins.

Don’t worry if the skin turns totally black on the outside. The banana is still good for several days.

You should throw out any banana’s that have any kind of mold starting to grow on them in the advanced stages of ripeness.

Quick Applesauce

You just got a bunch of fresh apples, and you are afraid that they are going to go bad.  You can make up a quick batch of applesauce that will keep in the refrigerator for 10-12 days.

Wash 6-8 apples, then core and quarter.  Place the apples into a saucepan and cover with 1/4 cup water.  Bring to a simmer and cover until the apples have cooked to a mush.

Remove the apples from the heat, and once they are cool enough to work with, puree in a blender or with a food mixer and add sugar to taste.  Place in an airtight container and refrigerate.

Fresh Apple Sauce should keep in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.  Frozen, it should be good for 5-6 months.

Frozen Fruit for Pies

You just got a few bushels of fresh fruit and you are trying to get it all frozen and preserved.

If you are freezing for pie use later, you can prepare the recipe and line a pie plate with sedan wrap.  Then you can place the fruit directly into pie plates and freeze until solid.

Remove from the freezer and remove from the pan and place in an extra large zip lock style bag.  Drop back in the freezer after you have noted the contents and the date.

Now when you are ready to bake your pie, just drop the frozen shell directly in your prepared and pastry lined pan and you are ready to bake.  You will add a few minutes to the bake time to allow for the thawing of the fruit.