February is the season for oranges in the UAE – 7 dirhams for 3 kgs at the farmer’s market, that’s just under EUR 0.5 per kg. So today I made marmalade. Although technically marmalade should be made with bitter Seville oranges, any citrus fruit will do. I leave the pith on my fruit, essentially because I don’t have the time or patience to de-pith kilos of fruit, but also because it imparts a slightly bitter flavour. I used 2 kgs of oranges (8 fruits), I thinly sliced 4 and peeled and chopped the other 4, adding just the flesh to the marmalade. I squeezed the juice from 2 lemons and added that to the pan, marmalade underway- but what to dowith the leftover peel……?
I’d read that crystallised peel was easy to make, so thought I’d give it a try, and easy it was! Being lazy I threw the peels into a pan of water as they were and brought to the boil for 10 minutes. I drained, refilled and did the same again, so total of 20 minutes boiling ( I poured the 2nd lot of water into the marmalade for extra flavour!) and then drained in a colander. When they were cool enough to handle I scraped the leftover flesh and pith off the lemon peels and then sliced all the peels into thinnish strips. Much easier to do when soft.
I made a syrup of 4 cups of water and 2 cups of raw sugar and boiled for a couple of minutes before adding the peels ( see photo below) and boiled for 45 minutes.
45 minutes later the peel was translucent and the syrup had almost been absorbed. The peels were drained, rolled in sugar and put on a rack to dry. Some recipes recommend drying in the oven at 200F but my oven doesn’t go that low, so my peels are drying overnight at room temperature, and they taste amazing. However next time I won’t bother with the additional suger coating, they are already sweet enough. These should keep for about a month in an airtight container, or several months in the freezer.
Update 8th May
the peel had mould growing on it after 3 weeks of being in an airtight jar on the kitchen shelf, so will definitely keep them in the freezer in future
Well, we finally got recycling bins in our street. The municipal trucks came one morning in early January and loaded the huge metal dumpster bins onto a van ( still full of rubbish of course) and took them down to the wasteland next to the beach and left them there 😦
One black wheelie bin and one green recycling bin was provided per 2 houses. The green recycling bin gives very clear instructions on what can and cannot be put into them, so it should all go well right?
The bins were not emptied for almost 2 weeks and the black bins filled up within days, so then the green bins got filled up with black bags of rubbish and then the street was littered with black bags and loose recyclable items. The Municipality were called several times and eventually came and cleared up the mess.
Since then they’ve collected every day, so not an issue, now we just have to educate the neighbours that goat manure and dead chickens are not recyclable items………
The raised beds are doing well, we have Roma and beef tomatoes, peppers, chillis, butternut squash, pumpkins, courgettes, sweetcorn, sweet potatoes, garlic and various herbs (I’m not even mentioning aubergines although they continue to grow profusely!). The big disappointment this year has been beans – they just won’t grow, get to about 12 inches then keel over and die. We have 2 broad bean plants that have survived and flowered, but haven’t produced any beans.
The figs and pomegranates are ripe and we’re harvesting them almost daily, bananas are ripening and the citrus trees have tiny oranges and lemons just starting. The mangos didn’t flower after all the shocking we gave then, so looks like we’ll have to wait another year to eat fresh homegrown mangos. The photo above is a small clump of sugar cane which is almost ready to harvest, we don’t use a lot of sugar, but it’s nice to be able to produce our own cane juice, which I’ll be using for the next batch of fermented ginger beer.
One of the mango trees finally flowered and we had about 5 fronds of blossoms, each eventually had approx 10 fruit buds, unfortunately a storm in April blew most of those off and we are left with 2 fruits. Let’s hope they survive to ripen.