Thursday, June 3, 2010

Citrus Week-"ish" Recipe: Candied Lemon Slices

In our kitchen, we picked up the pace around March. Picking up the pace meant that we tried to avoid processed foods containing high fructose corn syrup as well as other ingredients that you can't read or understand. So one March Morning the mutts woke up and our standard honey-nut cheerios was out. The kids sat at the table with empty bowls and excited smiles after The Mister of the House stated he was off to the store to buy more cereal.

And then the bomb dropped on their morning ritual. We sat down and said we weren't eating anymore cereal that had corn syrup, artificial sweeteners and colors, and filled their bowls with organic and delicious granola.

They wept bitter tears.

This isn't breakfast of course, but you get the idea.

Another fallout from our food revolution was fruit snacks. I'm not sure why I got on that bandwagon to begin with, perhaps because it's an integral mormon ritual every Sacrament Meeting to keep your kids quiet.

After reading the amazing book "In Defense of Food", The Mister and I now joke about whether something is food or "food-flavored product". I like to think of how the food came to be, and if someone was wearing goggles and a labcoat, then maybe it's a scientific product instead of a food one.

So like most of those kid-loving cereals, fruit snacks got the axe at our house. No wonder when the ingredient list for Wal-Mart's Great Value Fruit Snacks is this:

Corn Syrup, Sugar, Fruit Juice Concentrate (Apple, Grape, Strawberry, Orange, Lemon), Modified Cornstarch, Canola Oil, Malic Acid, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Natural And Artificial Flavors, Mineral Oil, Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Carnauba Wax.

And so it was, with the onslaught of lemons from our food co-ops, I decided to try my hand at candied lemon slices. Still sweet, and still a treat. But I don't need a lab-coat to make them, and neither will you.

Ingredients: Lemons, Sugar, Water. You will also need ice water for the recipe.

So here's the deal with lemon slices. The white rim is called pith, and it keeps your treat bitter and gross unless you boil it out. I digress, you don't actively boil. You throw them in water that was just boiling, but that has been pulled off the heat source. So still pretty hot. I used Martha's recipe as a guide, but keep in mind some basic citrus rules! If you are doing a BIG BATCH, consider doing a couple rounds of the boiling water, changing the water in between. Got it?

This picture has 3 or 4 lemons in it. Prepare boiling water, pull it off, throw in your lemons and let them sit for 2-3 minutes. If you want to be safe, throw out the water and do it one more time. (I just did it for one round by the way, and they turned out good...but they were better when I did a smaller batch. You get the citrus rules applying here right?)

So you "boil" them, and then plunge them in the ice-water bath. This is what they look like after this step.

Let those lemons enjoy their ice-bath while you prepare the syrup. Equal parts sugar to water. I went 2 cups of each, and heated over medium-low heat until the sugar is dissolved. YOU DO NOT WANT YOUR SYRUP TO BOIL. Just get your sugar dissolved, and then throw your slices in there to simmer for a complete hour. Going an extra 15 or 20 minutes isn't a big deal AS LONG AS IT DOESN'T BOIL.

So during the cooling process, you have some options. Roll in more sugar for a grainy treat, or dip in melted semi-sweet chocolate.

And yes my kids eat them! They are a bit chewy, but a little work with a sweet treat does a kid good. Here's Rainbow Girl after eating a chocolate one, and I snapped this pic before she had any idea she had choco-lips.

Oh and in case you're wondering, my kids all have these happy faces when eating their granola as well. Boo-yah!

I'm thinking cupcake toppers! What do you think?


paula said...

Love the question "Is it food or food flavored product?"

Can't wait to try this treat. Does it work with limes and oranges as well?

LGH said...

Amber, I love your own personal food revolution. You are inspiring.

Mrs. Olsen said...

Paula, every recipe I have found online talks about candied orange peels. They tend to have more pith however, and the boiling steps are more intense. Basically cut the orange peel into strips, scrape most of the pith, and begin the process. Here's a good link for ya:

clay said...

Oh my goodness. That looks amazing. Love the photos too!

Wade and Marilyn said...

I would like the chocolate one--anything with chocolate is a winner.

Lee Family said...

They were delish at mom's. So where do you buy the organic granola? I bought an "All Natural" granola from Target but I read the ingredients (it's delicious by the way) and there was one of those lame ingredients in the fruit snacks - some kind of syrupy stuff that I'm sure was what made it yummy.
is semi-sweet chocolate an all-natural food? kay, bye.

Mrs. Olsen said...

We buy Cascadian Farms organic granola at (dare I say?) Wal-Mart. It's $3.00 a box and over a pound.

We're not totally freaks about natural food. We go to a party, we eat! It's good! Semi-Sweet chocolate is mostly cocoa and fat, and half the sugar than milk chocolate.

Mr. Olsen said...

Hey Paula! DONT use oranges. They use dyes in oranges, and since people dont usually eat the peel, they figure it is okay.

Citrus Red 2, Citrus Red No. 2, C.I. Solvent Red 80, or C.I. 12156 is an artificial dye. As a food dye, it is permitted by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 1956 only for use in the United States on skin on some oranges.[1][2][3][4] While the dye is a carcinogen, it does not penetrate the orange peel into the pulp.

dreamofjean said...

Good for you! It's alwasy good to hear when more and more people are seeing the light (speaking of an eye opener into what we're really feeding our kids).
I promise they'll get used to it before long. And they'll be better off for it!
I appreciate your educating blogs, as well as your fun recipe's.