Citrus, hazelnuts, truffles.

21 Jan

Until I have my own orangery (chances, slim to none) I’ll have to buy Florida citrus or hope my friends and former neighbors in zone 9 out west continue to take pity on my decided lack of bright yellow and orange food hues during the winter season here in Tennessee, where I am trying to eat local.

A few weeks ago I ordered 40 pounds of red navels and 40 pounds of ruby red grapefruit from a local food coop that has citrus shipped in from Florida in January. I suppose when you’re going to cheat on the eat local thing, make it count.

I’m a little late getting in on the whole canning/preserving lovefest. I tried this summer but had so much fresh produce to grow, harvest and sell (much of it to canners, no less) that I didn’t get a chance to put up much for myself.

Looking at canning recipes for citrus I found a gorgeous marmalade, Christmas Marmalade in the Putting Up book by Stephen Palmer Dowdney which I will try, but it calls for more sugar than I had on hand. I am trying to cut down on sugar and since I couldn’t help but want to preserve these gorgeous fruits and hold on to the vibrant colors – RIGHT NOW, I continued my search.

The description for Sliced Orange Pickles in The Joy of Pickling book, by Linda Ziedrich (pg. 243) goes like this: “chewy, sweet, tart and slightly bitter”. Assuming tart means sour, we’ve hit 3 of the 4 types of taste buds in one go. I like that for some reason, it seems thrifty, plus the recipe only called for 4 cups of sugar, so I went with it.

Since I’m new to canning, I didn’t trust my canning/sterilization methods with the first batch (confidence issue) and I thought the slices were too large to snack on (rationalization). The instructions called for slicing the segments rind and all, but they didn’t come out clean so I had a lot of pulp in my syrup.

I don’t care about the pulp, but wanted smaller slices and to ensure sterilization. Instead of putting that fist batch in the cupboard, I gave it to Wally, our Red Wattle boar. Pigs don’t typically like the rind of citrus but in this case, he ate it ALL.

Future truffle hunters. NOT!

Speaking of feeding pigs, although they eat grass from pasture or nuts, plants and roots from the woodlot, they still require additional food inputs, especially during the winter months. This can get expensive so the alternative is to generate the additional food for them on-farm in keeping with a more sustainable production model. The benefit happens to be tastier pork. I’ve researched nut trees to plant this year and have settled on hazelnuts. Obviously if I plant hazelnut trees, then they MUST be inoculated with tuber melanosporum, black truffle spores to make “black diamonds”. Can truffles be grown in TN? I guess the answer is yes, but it’s complicated.

Sorry, back to the oranges, this time I halved the oranges and sliced them, here is a picture of the finished product:

It looks a bit like marmalade. I see these petite spiced orange pickles as a smart garnish on all kinds of roasted or braised meat dishes. This recipe also makes wonderful syrup for vinaigrette’s and marinades. I even like the idea of putting a small slice in my tea for the aromatics of the cloves and cinnamon.

I highly recommend The Joy of Pickling, there are all kinds of unusual recipes and unique ingredients, like pickled nasturtium pods which, according to the book make better capers than capers. My nasturtium seeds have already been ordered; can’t wait to try that one.

Next, I turned my attention to the grapefruit, which was not disappearing as quickly as those beautiful red navels. I was thinking Moroccan Lemons but with grapefruit. Funny how my Joy of Pickling book doesn’t have any recipes for pickling/preserving grapefruits at all. There might be a reason for this, I shall find out.

I forged forward using the recipe for the Moroccan Lemons, again, in The Joy of Pickling book, by Linda Ziedrich (pg. 156). While I was preparing this very easy recipe, I thought about what goes with grapefruit. Crab, chicken, halibut, avocado, lemon thyme, parsley, cloves, cinnamon and why do I keep seeing a fresh red-orange papaya chopped up with the rinsed, preserved grapefruit, Italian parsley, red onion and fresh squeezed lime over Mahi Mahi? Must be hungry.

I put the salted grapefruits in the jars with the salted fresh squeezed juice. I left one of the jars plain and in the other jar, I added cinnamon sticks and peppercorns. I used 2 grapefruits per jar and 2 more for the juice. I topped both off with olive oil and marked the calendar for 3 weeks, at which time they will go from my counter-top to the fridge.

This is an experiment, if they taste awful I can always clean the bathtub with them. Or make bath salts. Preserving is fun, but still a little scary.

How about a nice easy limoncello, but with grapefruit, this seems fairly foolproof ahem, well, something proof. I did a quick search for pompelmocello and THAT’S certainly not an original idea! It would make a SAweeet salty dog though! When I make mine I’ll post it. It will officially be called a “Salty Hog”.

Next project: Pompelmocello!

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7 Responses to “Citrus, hazelnuts, truffles.”

  1. Eileen January 21, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

    Those red navels are what the farmers here are calling Cara Cara oranges. That is what I am making the infused vodka with! The orange-cello will be with the backyard oranges. Next year, Meyers lemon limoncello…

    • pinkguitarfarm January 24, 2011 at 8:27 pm #

      I started the pompelmocello. It’s really pretty in the jar. I think the next one will be a combination of the orange and grapefruit peels. It’s very difficult to get the peel thin without any pith! Meyer lemon, oooh that will be wonderful!

  2. Kim hammon January 23, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

    I think the picture with the preserves and the books, you need to enter into the Williamson County Fair picture contest!

    • pinkguitarfarm January 24, 2011 at 8:18 pm #

      Thank you Kim! That is so nice to say, and makes me feel even better about using my daughter’s camera. 🙂

  3. Kathy January 26, 2011 at 11:29 pm #

    I just realized that if you start growing truffles you will need another dog to help hunt the truffels! You need a Logotto Romagnolo –

    http://www.lagottous.com/

    The Lagotto Romagnolo is a breed of dog that comes from the Romagna sub-region of Italy. The name means “water dog from Romagna,” coming from the Italian word lago, lake. Its traditional function is a gundog, specifically a water retriever. However, it is often used to hunt for truffles.

    At least dog won’t eat you out of house and home at 30 lbs. Maybe Skippy can be re-purposed!

    • pinkguitarfarm January 28, 2011 at 9:49 pm #

      I’ve read that there is a Logotto breeder in TN. For now, the skipster will have to do. Thanks for the link. I think we should do a field trip to the truffle farm…

    • premium florida citrus December 1, 2011 at 6:35 am #

      we were just discussing truffles today. Has anyone been lucky enough to try one before? i found this and was reading it

      http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Black+Gold%3a+No+longer+exclusive+to+Europe%2c+black+truffles+find+a…-a01611598325

      “Warren, who lives in Parkland, Fla., but was born and raised in London, tried his first truffle shaved over pasta when he was only 4 years old. “Once you’ve tasted a truffle, it has such a unique taste and aroma that, if you can afford it, you’re going to taste it again,” he says.”

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