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Orange peel

"Orange peel has a thousand uses, from marmalade and tea to scented firelighters and DIY kitchen spray" Tom Hunt

David has been panicking that he will run out of marmalade before the Seville Orange season. He has only two jars left. Well to be honest I don't know how much marmalade he eats for breakfast, but I would have thought that two jars were plenty. Anyway I conceded and bought a bag of Navel oranges to make a reserve supply. And that's what I have been doing this morning. so now he has eight jars of varying sizes to tide him through until the orange man in the Eltham market has some Seville oranges. He thinks around the end of July. Something to look forward to!

Anyway peeling all those oranges and throwing away all that pith made me think about all the other things that you can do with orange peel. And that I don't generally do. So I must mend my ways. It goes further than using the whole orange rather than just a bit of it for marmalade or Claudia Roden's orange cake.

Before I go on to what I found food-wise - well domestically really, I was much encouraged to find two industrial uses of orange waste. And orange waste is enormous - think of what is left over from the industrial production of orange juice - apparently 700,000 tonnes per year in Italy alone.

But there - in Italy - at the fashion house of Salvatore Ferragamo for example, they are making scarves out of a silk like textile made from oranges. I assume that it is not just Salvatore Ferragamo who is doing it. I am only dimly aware of the fashion world, but I am also dimly aware that segments of the fashion industry is making more effort to be environmentally friendly in various ways - mostly in the fabrics that they use. If you are interested just do a Google search and I'm sure you will find heaps.

It also seems that the construction industry is in the act. Nell Card of The Guardian has written an article about a biotech startup called Biohm, which amongst other things makes this product called Orb which is used in panels, tiles and risers - a bit like cork I think. One of the main ingredients for Orb is orange peel. Read the article to find out more. This is a British company, but I'm sure there are others all over the world doing similar things. And I have to say that when I read something like this I feel reassured that all will be well. If only the world wasn't ruled by politicians.

But we won't go there. Domestically what can you do with leftover orange peel when you have eaten an orange or juiced one for breakfast, or used the juice in something you are cooking. And of course, you do sometimes use orange zest and orange peel in cooking just as another ingredient. Provençal cooks put a strip of orange peel into their stews, which gives them a most characteristic and pleasing savour.

And a quick aside here. Although I found lots of things to do with the peel nobody seemed to be a fan of the pith. Even with some things that include the pith in the making - preserved citrus for example - before using it you peel off the pith, and the flesh, and throw them away. And yet apparently the pith is very rich in fibre, vitamin C and anti-oxidants. If you eat smoothies then you can include the pith with your orange but for marmalade, for example, you exclude the pith because it makes the marmalade cloudy.

But yes there are endless ideas for what to do with orange peel. Here are just some from the people at Cornersmith, from their book Use it All.

Dry, pulverise, mix with salt, and oil, and butter. Make jam and preserved oranges as you do lemons. In fact anything you can do with lemons you can do with oranges too. It's just a different taste - less sour.

Candied peel sometimes dipped into chocolate is, of course, the obvious choice. Mostly this is a process of cooking the strips of peel in a syrup and then drying them before dusting with more sugar. But I also found a recipe for this slightly different Italian candied orange peel from a blog called Jul's Kitchen which looked rather tempting. It looks more like one of those Middle-Eastern spoon fruits I think. Not dried but cooked until really soft in a syrup. The more normal ones can also be dipped in chocolate of course, which makes them even more of a treat thing than an everyday one. Well they certainly shouldn't be everyday.

Various cooks recommended collecting your leftover peels in a jar, covered in water, for a while until you have sufficient.

And Nigel Slater has a rather delicious sounding Maple and candied peel ice cream to make with those candied peels. Perhaps not at this time of the year though.

Candied peel can of course be used in many different ways as well as just eating them.

There seems to be a current trend to shove discarded citrus peels - well the halves of the fruit when you have squeezed them for the juice - into any kind of tray bake for the extra flavour. I guess you could also put them into stews and casseroles, although that might impart too much bitterness. The baking thing would be better, and somebody from The Guardian quoted a recipe from Claudia Roden. Admittedly for lemons, but you could do the same with oranges:

"She cuts them into pieces (pips discarded) and nestles them between chicken thighs (which have been coated in olive oil, lemon juice, turmeric, ginger, honey, white wine and chopped garlic) on a roasting tray. She adds capers and olives, pours over the remaining oil/lemon mix (used for the chicken), and roasts.

I think many modern cooks have done the same thing with those discarded citrus halves.

Drinks. You can make a Home-made orange liqueur Curaçao style in the same way that you make limoncello. Your Guardian Chef will show you how. And I have to say that making limoncello is a wonderful thing. So easy and so impressive. So I might try the orange version.

Syrups made with the peels can be added to mineral water for a cooling drink. And teas too. I found one recipe which was recommended as a way to improve your sleep:

"Orange peel tea! Pour hot water over some cleaned orange peel sitting in a small mug. Drink 20 minutes before bedtime (of course, just a little – so it doesn’t make you wake up and go pee). Sleep like a baby guaranteed! Good for daytime anxiety, heartache as well!" heidib123/Guardian commenter

As well as preserved lemons you can do the same things with oranges - well any citrus. But did you know you don't have to do it with the whole fruit. You can also do it with just the peels as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall demonstrates here. You just layer your peels - cut into large pieces - layer with rock salt and pour over some lemon juice. He recommends the juice of one lemon for four or five peeled lemons. And you can add to the jar as the peels become available. I do recommend preserved citrus. The flavour is so captivating and can be used in so many ways - not just in a tagine.

Marmalade - I even saw a recipe that just used the peel, although I'm not convinced by that one. Pam Corbin of River Cottage has a compost heap jelly that is tempting though. 500g of apple cores and peel, 500g of orange peel - well any citrus peel. Cover with water and cook until soft. Pour into a jelly bag or muslin and leave overnight to drip. Next day weigh sugar - 450g for every 600ml juice. Cook up with juice of 1 orange - or whatever you are using until setting point is reached. Pour into sterilised jars. I've never tried to make jelly. Maybe now's the time.

But it doesn't end there and you will find heaps of other suggestions on the net. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, at the back of his wonderful book Love your Leftovers has at least a dozen - a couple of favourites. To counteract overpowering cooking smells - like fish - David will love this one - put some peel on a plate on a radiator if you have one and the perfume will counteract the smell. If you haven't got a radiator then put peel in a saucepan with some cloves and cinnamon stick, cover with water and simmer for a minute or so. Turn off the heat and leave with the lid off. Same result. Second one - dip a squeezed lemon in bicarb and salt, and use to scour, clean and deodorise wooden chopping boards. Rub all over the board, leave for 5 minutes, rinse and dry.

As I say there are numerous other options all over the net. So next time you are about to throw out those peels - which are not that great in compost - pause for a moment and think of something to do with them - candy or dry I think.


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