The spring thaw is upon us. The icebergs are melting, the sidewalks are passable again and the smell of thawing earth and sap rising are in the air. This time of year is always a little melancholy for me. I love winter, no matter the cold and snow, I love it. I'm a big fan of warm and cozy. I love the holidays, love snow days, thick blankets, warm stews and soft cashmere sweaters (and socks, cashmere socks are the best). I'm going to miss it in the long warm, muggy, glaring, big, fat summer ahead. Most people talk about capturing the flavors of summer to be used during the cold, lean months. I do my share of that, mostly so that I can enjoy the winter that much more, but just to turn things on their ear I've been trying to capture the flavors and fragrance of winter to be enjoyed during the summer.
What are the flavors I love most in winter? That's easy. Juicy, fresh citrus fruits, roasted nuts, and cups and cups and cups of milky black tea. So that's what I've attempted to capture. I've made extracts of tangerine, blood orange, meyer lemon, vanilla/orange, toasted almond, hazelnut and pistachio and peach, blackcurrant and vanilla black tea. Thinking ahead to chocolate ice cream with blood orange extract, or pistachio ice cream amped up with a bit of extract and glasses of cold seltzer with carbonated bubbles popping peach tea extract.
|Drying orange zest|
I've also started zesting my citrus before I peel them and drying the zest. It's nice to have home cured rinds for recipes. You can zest any type of orange, lemon or lime - or anything else you can get your hands on like yuzu or buddah's hand. I lay them on parchment covered wicker trays but even laid out evenly on a dinner plate works. Leave them at least a week, depending on humidity, before you put them in a jar to keep. Make sure they're absolutely dry before you do, any hidden moisture could cause your rinds to mold. On the other hand don't leave them out too long or they'll lose their potency. Don't forget to label them, you'll want to remember which is tangerine and which is blood orange, especially as they dry and their flavor concentrates.
|Straining Meyer Lemon Extract|
So, while it's still winter take advantage of the fruits of the season and keep them for the warm seasons to come. If preparing them seems too mind-boggling and time consuming check out the selection of extracts in my Etsy store. Everything is made in small batches so there is a limited supply. I love to tinker and experiment so expect some new arrivals.
To read more about making extracts at home look here.