Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tasty Tidbits From Things You’d Typically Toss

A chicken carcass simmered in a large pot of vegetable laden water is a common soup base in many a frugal kitchen. Then there’s the infamous leftover casserole. But here are four less common, even giftable food items, prepared from peels and seeds you’d normally dump.

For candied orange rind start with about four thick skinned oranges. Score the surface into quarters through the white, and peel from the fruit. Slice the rind lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips. Place them in a pot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Drain. Repeat. Drain and repeat again. (This removes bitterness.) Dissolve 4 ½ cups of sugar in 1½ cups of water over low heat. Add peels to the sugar syrup and simmer on a low heat until the rinds become translucent, about 45 minutes. As they float to the top gently push them under with your spoon. Let them sit in the syrup overnight. Heat through again in the morning and drain the peels. (Keep the syrup for use in iced or hot tea. Yummy.) Carefully coat individual peels in more granulated sugar and dry on a cookie cooling rack overnight. Done right, these have a gum drop like consistency with a hint of zing. In our house they don’t last a day.

Toasted seeds begin with a squash, like butternut, or pumpkin. Remove the seeds, rinse and separate them from the pulpy middles. Toss the pulp. Drain the seeds. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Drop the still damp seeds, single layer, into a lightly greased pan. Sprinkle the seeds with salt, garlic powder, and paprika. Or for those who like bit more kick, chili powder. Toast for about fifteen minutes until lightly brown. Let cool a tad, and munch away.

My Mom introduced me to pickled watermelon rind as a kid. Now I make them regularly. Start with the rind, scrape off most of the pink, and remove the green skin. Cut the prepared white rind into ½ inch cubes and measure about a quarts’ worth. Dissolve ½ cup salt in 5 cups of water, add the rind, and let sit overnight with a dish on top to keep the rind submerged. Drain. Rinse well. Cover with fresh water and boil until just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and put back into the pot. Combine 5 1/3 cup sugar, 2 ½ cups water, and 2 ½ cups white vinegar in a large non-aluminum pot. Tie 2 cinnamon sticks, and 4 teaspoons whole cloves in a cheesecloth bag. Drop the spice bag into the vinegar sugar mix, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the rind to the liquid and let sit overnight with the spices. (Putting a dish on top.) Bring to a boil again and simmer until the rind becomes almost transparent. Remove the spice bag. Transfer the rinds into clean, hot jars with a slotted spoon, packing tightly, and pour the hot syrup over them, leaving about ½ inch head space. Cover and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Wait three weeks before using. These are lovely served along side salty and pungent foods like cheddar cheese or ham.

Lastly, a new addition to my frugal repertoire, apple peel jelly. Take the cores and peels from about 15 apples (4 cups tightly packed). Put them in a large pot and cover with 6 cups of water. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Drain the juice through a cheesecloth lined colander into a bowl. (I use the low sugar pectin, but if you make the real thing follow the recipe for apple jelly on the package.) Measure 6 cups of juice. If you find it’s not enough, don’t squeeze the peelings, but do a second boiling of the peels in an additional cup or so of water. Once you have 6 cups, put the juice into a pot. Take the box of low sugar pectin and mix it with 1/4 cup sugar in a small bowl. Add the pectin mix to the juice and whisk it in. Bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. (You’re stirring constantly.) Add 3 3/4 cup sugar and return to boil. Let it boil hard for one minute. Pour the jelly into hot glass jars, leaving about 1/8 inch head space, wipe the rims, and screw on prepared lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Or turn the lidded jars upside down on a towel. Let cool undisturbed for 24 hours. Test for a seal. Refrigerate and use unsealed jars first.

So there you go, taste treats from what you’d normally toss. Bon Appetit.

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