Tia Marta here to share an easy and festive recipe my Great Aunt Rina used to make for the holidays when I was young–Citrus-Rind Candy. With a combination of grapefruit, tangerine and orange–rare and special in early 1900s New England–she made sweet confections. Now, in the Sonoran Desert where a diversity of citrus abounds thanks to introductions by early missionaries, I’m expanding on Aunt Rina’s inspiration.
RECIPE for MEYER LEMON-RIND CONFECTION:
Place 1 qt sliced lemon peel in saucepan. Cover with 2 cups granulated sugar or 1 1/2 cups agave nectar. (No water is needed as there is enough moisture in the rind’s white pulp to supply it.) Mix well and simmer slowly until sugary liquid thickens, being careful not to scorch or caramelize. Remove from pan and spread out slices on wax paper to cool, dry, and begin to crytallize. Dust with powdered sugar. If this candy remains pliable and sticky, you can dust again with powdered sugar.
A little bundle makes a fun old-fashioned stocking-stuffer, or, served on a buffet platter with other sweets it offers a “bitter-sweet” alternative.
To add a local wild ingredient to your holiday confection, try adding some Southwest pinyones. (New World pinyones is a local industry waiting to happen. Thousands of years of Indigenous harvests of pinyon nuts should teach us what a treasure this desert tree gives!)
Of course you can cheat for this recipe and buy delicious Italian stone-pine nuts already de-hulled from Trader Joe’s.
The best “sticking ingredient” for attaching pinyon nutmeats to your citrus-peel confection is–tah dah you got it!!–our sublime western-hemisphere contribution to human bliss–chocolate!
For more great ideas, you are cordially invited to join our Arizona Native Plant Society December Zoom meeting, Thursday, December 10, 2020, at 7pm for a delightful virtual pot luck — Native Plant Desserts and Libations! Tia Marta will join Tucson’s culinary artists Carolyn Niethammer (author of the new book A Desert Feast) and Amy Valdes Schwemm (molera extraordinaire and creator of ManoyMetate mole mixes) with creative ideas and virtual “tastes” live. To join the zoom go to www.aznps.com/chapters/tucson in early December for details, or send an email to NativePlantsTucson@gmail.com to request Zoom login. The meeting will also be streamed on Facebook, starting at 7:00 pm Dec.10.
Happy holiday cooking with our local heirlooms!