Sunday, November 08, 2009

Glaced Fruit and Candied Peel For Baking

Why? Because for twenty dollars, and the cost of my time I made over a hundred dollar's worth of glaced fruit to use in my holiday baking. I have to think they taste better than the peels and cherries in the plastic tubs at the grocer. Less preservative anyway. As a bonus, I know what century they are from.

I made:

Crystalised ginger
Candied orange peel
Candied pineapple (I tinted half the batch green so it would look festive. That's some damn festive pineapple there)
Glaced apricots
Glaced cherries

The pineapple and apricots were dried fruit that I re-hydrated by steaming and then proceeded with putting through the sugar syrup. The biggest time suck was waiting for them to dry and then re-dip them in syrup. I did the process about five times with the apricots and pineapple, about eight with the cherries. I may give them another dip tomorrow, but they really don't need it.

So let me tell you about the cherries.

My grocer had 10 oz. jars of maraschino cherries for .99 cents. They are store brand, more fruit than liquid and every bit as nice as the ones that cost twice as much. You do the math. I'll wait.

OK, so you see my point. Fresh cherries never came down in price last summer, or I would have made a few batches using a similar process-no big deal. Honestly, they are going in fruitcake. By the time you are done with them, they won't taste anything like maraschino cherries, not that there's anything wrong with them-I'm sort of partial to them myself, and frequently bake with them.

If you were super-thrifty, the liquid they are packed in could be boiled down into a usable syrup. I did not do that. I used sugar and water in small batches (you really can't crowd the fruit in the syrup). I used cane sugar because I do not like the smell of beet sugar (everyone thinks I'm quite mad, but to me, beet sugar smells like dirty hair that hasn't been washed in a very long time. I know, it probably really is just me, nonetheless, who wants to think of dirty hair every time they pour a cup of sugar in a bowl? Right.

It is slow, and tedious to make these, and it gives you a better understanding of why glaced fruit is so mind-bogglingly expensive-but for my purposes, totally worth it. I'm tempted to skip baking this year and just give away glaced fruit as gifts. It isn't like you can pop over to the grocer and pick up glaced apricots-at least not where I live.

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