SICILY: orange zests

Citrics origin is known to be in the territory around Himalaya mountain, and dates back 8 millions year.

Greeks, and then romans, widely knew cedar. In Pompei we have a mural pictur representing either a small cedar or a lemon, which makes us wander weather romans knew lemon too. Although they might have known this plant, it was anyway not of common use.

Pompei, la casa dei frutteti

Arab presence in Sicily, spread in the island the use of sugar cane, oranges and lemon. Oranges were bitter, and appreciated for their peel, not only for their juice.

Orange in a medieval arab manuscript

Orange peel and sugar, with water, are the only ingredient needed to prepare sweet orange zests, a sicilian medieval treat that is still very much in use in modern italy.

Arab drinking below orange tree in a medieval manuscript

RECIPE

Slice oranges in 6, then peel them keeping the white part attached to the peel. (You won’t need the pulp, you might remove the seeds and beat it, in order to get some juice, this is not part of the current recipe).

Cut the peel into strips. Boil them 3 times from cold water. Each time, trhow the water and change it.

After you have boiled 3 times, prepare a syrup with equal amount of water and sugar (for instance, 100g of water, 100g of sugar). The water should be enought to cover your orange “strips”. Heat the syrup on a small pot on a low flame, so to melt the sugar and immerse the orange “strips” in the boiling syrup, making sure to keep the flame low. Let it cook slowly during 20 minutes. Remove the orange strips and let them cool (5 minutes). Meanwhile, clean your pot with very hot water (cold water would make the sugar stick and damage the pot).

Cover the sugary orange strips with fresh sugar cristals, and let them dry approx 12h.

Put on a box or bag and enjoy for long time….

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