The citrus season is coming to an end and I am disgusted. I’ve been binging on Sumo citrus for weeks now, trying to squeeze as much vibrant, tangy sweetness into my mouth as possible until the bumpy fruit is gone for the year.
In an attempt to prolong the joy that sumos bring me, I even kept their skins. They might not be juicy and sweet, but they still have a ton of flavor lying around in their cell walls, waiting to be extracted – and you can do that with a little sugar. The sugar extracts the oils from the peel, and said oil in turn dissolves the sugar, creating a bartender-like syrup called “oleo saccharum”. You can measure everything, which we discussed here– but you can also throw it all in a jar, shake and strain when you remember.
I prefer the latter method, obviously.
Gather your peels and peel them from the pith (the white part inside) with a Y-peeler (or cheese slicer) as much as possible. Marrow can give your syrup a bitter flavor, so try to avoid thick strips of it.
You can make a little syrup or a lot of syrup, depending on how many peels you have. If you want to make a lot of syrup, store your peels in the freezer until you have the amount you deem “enough”. A few citrus fruits will give you a few tablespoons of syrup, depending on how much zest they have to offer.
Either way, just put your peels in a jar and add a spoonful of sugar. Shake the jar to roughen the rinds and coat them with sugar; you want each strip to glisten with sucrose, with a little excess at the bottom of the jar. If your peels aren’t fully coated, add more sugar and shake the jar again.
Let the jar sit for several hours — or overnight — shaking it gently a few times while remembering to do so. The longer your extraction time, the more likely you are to extract bitter flavors, although I left a jar of lemon peels to extract for several days and it tastes great.
Strain the barks from your syrup, then use the fragrant, sweet and slightly floral liquid to sweeten cocktails, tea or plain seltzer water. You can also drizzle it over desserts and baked goods like cakes, ice cream or Crepes.