Sunday, February 6, 2011

Pick Your Damn Fruit or How I Love Winter in Sacramento

I can’t really explain to Californians what would happen to me come February in upstate New York, hell I could barely explain it to New Yorkers.  I told a coworker here that Glen’s Falls hit -30 Fahrenheit  recently and he just looked at me wide eyed, the thought of 10 degrees is unfathomable to him so anything in the negatives is a joke.  I want to be him so badly.

By this time of year I would normally stop caring, I wouldn’t go out much, and I would spend most of my time reading or watching movies, just waiting for a Spring that would be months away.  Underneath all of this uncaring would be a desperation to get away, I started looking at apartments in California about five years ago, the search always starting around January.  Sure, everyone would complain about the cold and all the snow, the cities inability to properly take care of snow removal, but I knew most people did not feel the way that I did.  Even Rob, though happy to be in California could have stayed through many more winters with no ill effects.  For me, I knew that life is too good to go so many months each year hiding from it.  For some winter could be a lot of fun taking advantage of all the activities you can only do that time of year, for me it was a torture that came each year and seemed to get longer and longer.   

So here I am, on a beautifully sunny day on February sixth, with my windows open singing along to Sublime as I slice fresh oranges, mandarins and tangerines that I picked up from the farmer's market.  I can take the rainy days, the clouds that come and go here because they are not non-stop and they don’t keep pushing me further and further down. 

With all of that said, I acknowledge that I am viewing everything here in Sacramento through the eyes of someone that might be wearing rosy glasses.   It is our first winter here, and it is an incredible experience for someone who has only known Northern East Coast winters.  But that is no excuse for the shear obliviousness that some Sacramentans show to their good fortune.  There are orange, mandarin, lemon, grapefruit and just about every other citrus tree you can imagine growing all over this city.  Most are in people's yards, some line the curbs downtown, and more populate the city parks.  And beneath most of these trees lays rotting fruit, ignored and underappreciated.  Sacramento, you have the ability to grow this fruit that the rest of the country uses as a life raft to get though winter, pick your damn fruit! 

I understand that many of you cannot keep up with the bounty of your trees, but there are plenty of us out here that would be happy to take some of the fruit off your hands.  There are great resources like Craigslist, freecycle and more recently neighborhoodfruit.  On all of these sites you can post your fruit and offer picked fruit or even allow others to come pick your fruit.  I know you are all used to having these trees around, I am sure you do not point out each citrus tree you see (as Rob and I still do giddy with the knowledge that we live in a place that this is even possible), but you should still know that you have got something good going here, and all of the bounty should be treasured.  So please Sacramento, for everyone that is suffering the foot upon foot of snow that is hammering a good chunk of the country this year, I repeat, pick your damn fruit!
Knowing that I was planning on making these candies, Rob has diligently carried his fruit peels home from work in a ziplock bag, eagerly anticipating a new treat.  He has been so good at this that I have more than double the amount that I actually need.  I plan on using some of them to make orange sugar, as well as orange extract.  Any other ideas, recommendations?

I mixed steps from a few different recipes and added a few touches of my own, feel free to mix and match as well.  I was inspired by the recipes from recipesexpert and simplyrecipes
Candied Citrus Peels

  • Scrub Oranges (or any citrus fruit, I used a mix of naval, mandarin, blood oranges and grapefruit)
  • Slice peels into thin strips, if you are worried about bitterness remove as much pith as possible
  • Soak peels for about 4-5 hours (or overnight) in a salt water bath (2 tablespoons of salt to each quart of water
  • Rinse thoroughly
  • Cover with water and bring to a boil
  • you can repeat this step a few times, I did it twice I saw others recommend more depending on the thickness of the peel
  • For each cup of peel add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar
  • I added 1 clover honey stick for good measure, this is entirely optional
  • Simmer peels in sugar mixture till it reaches your desired flavor, taste every 30 minutes or so, it can be a few hours depending on the bitterness etc.
  • Roll peels in sugar coating evenly
  • Place strips side by side on a cookie sheet and put in a warm oven until dried.

Once dry they can also be dipped in semi-sweet chocolate if you want to take it to that level.
You also now have an awesome orange simple syrup.


  1. In Thailand we make citrus peels in similar ways accept we make it a little bit saltly, too. Yours looks fresh and delicious... I will definitely try it :)

  2. Love your appreciation for Sacramento in the winter. All that citrus fruit hanging (or not)in all its beauty must be a site for the eyes. We have about 2 feet of snow outside, I guess I'll strap on my skis and see if I might find an icicle to suck. Candied peels look yummy. Are you able to eat just one?

  3. You make a good argument for all that fruit just rotting on the ground.

  4. I agree...pick the fruit:) I completely go 'underground' in winter, too and look forward to warmer climates...I miss my garden!!
    Those candied orange peels look fantastic, can't wait to try!
    (I remember your mom freezing grapes:)

  5. i love winter in dallas, too. i call it "winter" because, for example, yesterday was in the 70s and it was nice enough to wear a summer dress with tights. it's unreal. we get some cold weather and occasionally there is snow, but it's always peppered with streaks of awesome weather that i equate with spring. i like to say dallas has two seasons, spring and summer. that's ok with me.

  6. Thanks for all the comments everyone. it seems winter and wasted fruit struck a chord!

    -Tes I am curious of other ways to do these, though I really liked how they came out I don't know that they needed to be so sweet. I could see a little salt or even cinnamon going a long way.

    -We definitely could not eat just one, though on the day that I made them I had eaten so much citrus and citrus peels that at the end of the day my mouth actually hurt!