It's citrus season, and Dried Mandarins feature in this edition of the May IMK. Where did April go? And now that it's May, the weather here in the Tropics of North Queensland is cooling down so we are spending a lot more time in the garden preparing the garden beds for Winter planting, and also it is really a pleasure now to be preparing delicious food in the kitchen.
A lot of the activity in my kitchen this last month and in Mr. HRK's workshop, has been centred around the mandarin fruit. The branches of our mandarin tree in the front garden have been sagging to the ground with the weight of the mandarins it is producing. Even though the skins hadn't ripened, and are only just starting to ripen now, the flesh is sweet, and we needed to pick some of those mandarins to ease the load off the tree, and then find a way to use them, as well as give a lot to friends. We also needed to find a way to preserve them. Did you know that even though the skin of the mandarin fruit is still green, the fruit can be ripe enough to eat, and in fact be very juicy and delicious? It takes a cold snap in the weather, which we are really still waiting for, for the skins to change colour. We also don't have a clue what variety of ,mandarin this tree is.
When my Mum passed away on the 13th May, 13 years ago, just after Mother's Day, my Aunty Mary, my Mum's stepsister, gave me a mandarin tree to plant in memory of Mum, a lovely and very thoughtful idea. That was in 2008, so the mandarin tree is 13 years old, and this is the best crop it has yielded. This is all very special to me as my Mum would have been 100 years old this year. During those 13 years due to the tree's lack of interest in producing fruit, Mr. HRK has threatened it, cajoled it, fed it, watered it, but not hugged it, however something has worked because this year it has excelled itself, just when seriously it was under threat of being faced with it's demise. Because of it's sentimental value to me, of course I have protected it, or it might have met it's sad end a few years ago, but it just shows that trees have feelings and after 13 years it is coming into its own, a late bloomer. Sadly Aunty Mary is also no longer with us either, but I will let my cousins know this story. We never found out what the variety of this mandarin is. But it is a large fruit, thin skinned, with very few seeds and very sweet. If you have any clues as to what it is I would love to hear from you. Anyway it has adapted to living in the tropics, like all of us.
|These are the fruit just starting to colour up. There are a few green ant nests in the tree as well just for added value.|
This is the mighty mandarin tree in our front yard surrounded by some tropical colour; Coleus, Ixora, a Desert Rose, purple ground Orchids, Geraniums and the large leafed exotic Caladium with a pink heart. Around the base of the tree is well cleared though as it needs to be.
And bucket loads to give away.
However when we started thinking about how to preserve some of them, Mr. HRK was very keen to experiment with dehydrating them. So the dehydrator moved into his workshop to work away quietly during the night, and off we started. Well the good news is that they are delicious dehydrated, and will keep bottled and well sealed in a cool place for 12 months. For the first batch we tried, we left the skins on the fruit when we sliced them up, however because the skin was still green, the fruit tasted quite tart when dried. However if you can dry them with the golden skin still on the fruit they will look very pretty, even prettier than mine:) I hope that enough fruit will survive the bugs and not become stung by fruit fly before they ripen enough to pick them, so we can dry some more with the skin on. That was another reason why we were fearful about leaving the fruit on for too long, as the fruit fly wreak havoc on citrus in our part of the world. We try to spray with eco friendly sprays and hang bottles of various concoctions from the tree guaranteed to repel the bugs but some fruit still gets stung.
This was our second batch where Mr. HRK removed the skins, and sliced the mandarins as finely as he could, and then dried them in our dehydrator overnight.
Then I decided to sprinkle a spice rub over the next batch before drying for some extra flavour, which took them to another level, and this photo below is the result. We have taste tested them on friends, and I recommend this method to you for oranges and mandarins. Bottle them up, label them, enjoy them at home, and they will also be delicious edibles to give as gifts. I still need to print off some labels, but they look really nice bottled in jars.
We are now sprinkling the mandarins over our cereal in the morning as well. We also dried some pineapple slices which is more popular and commercially available for sale than the mandarin, and we think it's delicious as well, and great for a snack if you are travelling.
SPICE RUB FOR DRIED MANDARINS
4 large mandarins or oranges thinly sliced
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
large pinch of sea salt
Fruit can be dried in the oven or in a dehydrator or even in the sun. Using the dehydrator is an easy way to do it as it can work overnight, and if not quite dry enough in the morning, then adjusted by the hour until the fruit is just right.
Wash and dry your fruit, then cut them into very thin slices, (as thin as possible)
Mix the spices and the sugar in a bowl and sprinkle evenly over the mandarins or oranges
Layer them on dehydrator trays, or if you want to use your oven, dry them on trays lined with baking paper at 200 deg. F for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. They may take longer.
We were using two dehydrators by this stage.
When dried, they can be stored in ziplock bags, or in bottles. Store them in a cool, dry place and they should store well for 12 months. In my neck of the woods, the humidity can cause problems, so they need to be packaged as soon as possible.
Dried mandarin or orange slices can also be added to decorate a cocktail, a fruit shrub, or any drink really. There are endless possibilities to how they can be used, only limited by our imagination. The flavour is really developed by the drying process.
The other day, whilst I was cooking a chook with stuffing in the oven for lunch, I made a Banana Sultana cake and to save time and electricity, I baked it in the oven with the chook. The cake was delicious, so was the chook by the way. I used some dried mandarin to decorate the top of the cake before baking. The dried fruit browned off a little too much for my taste when it was cooked, however it didn't take away from the overall success of the cake at all. This cake was just so delicious straight out of the oven that I will definitely be baking it again. I can't see any reason not to add both walnuts and sultanas if I have the ingredients on hand. This is a photo of my cake before it went into the oven.
Here is the recipe, which just happened to be on the back of a Sunbeam sultanas packet. I think the sugar content could be halved if you are watching calories, and this would still be to your taste.
Banana Sultana Loaf
70 g butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1 cup sultanas
2 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 180 deg. C.
Grease and line the base of a loaf tin, mine measured 22 cm x 12 cm and was perfect
Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy, add the beaten egg, and then add in the bananas one at a time
Add the flour, sultanas and the milk and stir by hand to combine
Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. AT the end of the cooking time, insert a skewer into the centre of the cake and if it comes out clean it is cooked.
Cool in the tin and then slice to serve while it is still warm and enjoy.
When I was growing up and still living in my family home, I remember that this kind of cake was often served warm and with butter spread on it, gosh we were naughty back then weren't we, but it was so very good.
If you read my blog regularly, you will already know that I play Mahjong once a week, and as well as having the fun of playing Mahjong with friends, we also enjoy some delicious cake at each others homes. This week was my turn to host Mahjong, and I made my Ginger Syrup cake, which is a recipe I really enjoy making, and this time I decorated it with a slice of the dried mandarin. The ladies really enjoyed it. The cake recipe is now being distributed to all the Mahjongers. You can find it at this link. The flavours of the spice rub and the intense ginger flavour of the cake complimented each other perfectly, all enhanced by the wonderful espresso coffee made by our barista for the afternoon, Mr. HRK.
Well that's it from me for this edition of In My Kitchen. This is part of the IMK event hosted globally by Sherry from Sherry's Pickings, where lots of bloggers participate to showcase the highlights of what they have been doing in their kitchens for the month.
Take care, and thanks for dropping by,
your garden looks very exotic. Drying the huge crop of mandarins looks like a great idea.ReplyDelete
best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com
Mae, tropical plants can look rather exotic but they are quite simple to grow which we enjoy. We are big fans of dehydrating fresh produce as a way of preservation. So nice to hear from you, thank so much, PaulineDelete
Can I have some of your homegrown mandarins? They are amazing!! Seriously, I want SOME, please :-)) The loaf looks so comforting and loaded with goodness and yumminess.ReplyDelete
Oh Angie if only you lived closer you would be very welcome to some of our mandarins. Lovely to hear from you.Delete
with your next batch of dried mandarins try leaving the skin on. I do that and they look pretty, and can be used for so many things. Yesterday I made meringues with some dried lemons. I love the idea of planting a tree in memory of someone. We did that for my uncle. May it continue to give you an abundance :)ReplyDelete
Tandy the skin is too tart when green to leave it on for dehydrating, however hopefully the skins will ripen up and then certainly we will leave it on.Thanks for your comment.Delete
I never thought of drying oranges but I have been buying packets of them to use as garnish for our cocktails. I think I may give it a go.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much for your comment, once you dry your own you will never look back. It is so simple.Delete
what a resplendent tree pauline. so many mandarins. it was 12C the other night; positively freezing. we had to put an extra blanket on:) what a lovely idea to plant a tree in memory of your mum. every crop must bring back great memories. enjoy a wonderful month.ReplyDelete
What a wonderful word you have used to describe our tree Sherry, thanks so much. Yes 12 degrees is a bit chilly in our part of the world isn't it, but I love it.Hope you are feeling much better, and enjoy a much better month.Delete
Our mandarins aren't ripe yet. I am giving away my dehydrator tomorrow as I have only used it once so I won't be able to dehydrate them. Yours look pretty.ReplyDelete
Thanks Chel, I hope your dehydrator is put to good use by it's next owner.Delete
Dried tangerina idea is really good. Dried tangerina and banana combination is amazing. Banana Sultana Loaf looks fingerlickingly delicious.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much bread & salt, how nice you call them tangerina. The Banana sultana cake was really tasty and very easy to make. So nice to hear from you.Delete
How wonderful to have mandarines growing in your yard! I love dried orange slices, so I'm sure I'd love dried mandarine slices. And that banana loaf looks like such a great use for them.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much Jeff for your comment, yes they are so delicious, my husband is quite addicted to them. Dried orange would be great as well, we will dry some oranges when they are selling at a reasonable price or we are given some.Take care. Love your blog as well:)Delete
Lovely story Pauline! I never knew all that was behind that tree in your front yard. Wonderful bountiful harvest ripe with memories... and tasty treats! All looking fabulously delicious as always!ReplyDelete
What a great story Pauline! I never knew all that was behind that tree in your front yard. Wonderful bountiful harvest, ripe with memories... and tasty treats! All looking fabulously delicious as always!ReplyDelete
Thanks so much Myrtille, what a lovely surprise to hear from you.It's nice to have such strong memories attached to our garden, and it's so wonderful to know you met my Mum. Have a great week, big hugs for the children.Delete
Me encantó el post, Besos!!ReplyDelete
Lovely to hear from you Joha. Thanks so much for your comment.Delete
Your front yard reminded me of my parents house in Florida, very tropical and exotic and I enjoyed reading about your tree. I will try dehydrating some mandarins, they made my mouth water. In the past I have purchased them at the store to serve with runny cheeses, it's quite a nice combination.ReplyDelete
So nice to hear from you Liz, I would love to visit Florida one day.I will try serving my dried mandarins with runny cheese, there are so many enticing uses for it. Thanks so much for your lovely comment.Delete
I love fruit trees! We don't have any at the moment, alas, but had a lot of citrus trees when we lived in Florida (several orange trees, Meyer lemon, lime, etc). Fun post -- thanks.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much KR for your interest, and Florida sounds lovely.It's a bit unusual here to have a fruit tree in the front yard, but why not, and the aspect is perfect for it. Most fruit trees grow well in a pot as well. Take care.ReplyDelete
Yum, mandarines, I love them, but in here they are yummy mostly during Winter, cos we have to import them of course. Have a lovely week!ReplyDelete
Wow so many mandarins! What a beautiful story you shared about their origins, and I'm glad the mandarin tree is flourishing in your garden. I love that cake tooReplyDelete