Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Wonder of Orange Peels

This time of year, we eat more oranges than any other time, I think. Usually, oranges are not in our budget. But we always put them in the toes of the children's stockings, so we buy for that, and some years, we have been blessed with a gift of oranges.
    As I was laying orange peels out on cookies sheets and cooling racks earlier this morning, I thought I needed to share about the joy of orange peels. 
We always lay them out to dry, this usually takes a couple of days. Then they can be stored in ziplock bags or glass jars - my preferable method of storage - they look so pretty! I also do this with lemon and lime peels.

   Place a few peels in a small pot of water on the stove and simmer. It will fill your home with a wonderful smell. Add a little cinnamon, allspice, and/or cloves, to increase the wonderful odors. I remember as a little girl, when my mom peeled an orange, she would put the peels right on the electric stove burner, and turn it on low. 
Or you can use the dried peels when brewing tea. I love tea, and keep a coffee maker on the counter just for tea. Orange peels add so much flavor to all kinds of teas. 

A friend treated me to Red Rooibos Spice Chai Tea from http://www.bulkherbstore.com/.
Some of the best tea I've ever tasted, but clearly not in my budget. So, I did what I always do - searched online for a recipe to make it myself. All of the ingredients are listed on the package, making it easier to replicate. 
Here is what I came up with - not as good as Shosanna's, but close:
Red Rooibos Spice Chai Tea
1/2 lb Red Rooibos tea (organic can be found on Amazon fairly cheaply)
10 cinnamon sticks (broken or chipped using a coffee grinder)
1/4-1/2 cup cardamom pods
18 bay leaves
1/4-1/2 cup black peppercorns (I use 1/2 cup)
1/4-1/2 cup whole cloves
1 cup dried orange peel
3/4 cup (or more) fennel seeds
dried ginger root

Mix everything together. Use 1/8 cup in coffee filter for 1 pot, or a teaspoonful in a tea ball. Lots of folks serve it with milk or cream. This tea can be made more or less spicy, depending on your tastes.

I make it in my tea maker (coffee maker), and when the pot is empty, I run another pot of water through the same tea. I found I can make three pots using the same batch, although the third is a little weaker.

I buy many of my whole spices in bulk online. I usually find the best deals on Amazon.

So don't throw those peels away - they are so useful!!