Mixed Peel

by mutteringhousewife

When the weather gets warmer I start thinking about making fruitcake. Cut that out, mine’s really nice, not sticky or cloyingly sweet, and it doesn’t have nuts or brandy in it. I’ve made converts out of non fruitcake eaters. Alas, not my children, when they see me making a fruitcake they say “great, why can’t you make a cake that we actually like?”. I’ll keep making them eat it and in five or six years they’ll start to see it my way. Parenting is about patience.

I was going to wait until after the school holidays for the first step in my fruitcake, but serendipity stepped in. The first step is to make your own mixed peel, because the stuff you buy is dull dull dull. I make mine with grapefruit and orange peel, although today there’s a lemon in there too because I’m running the pantry down before we go away. My daughter and her friend walked the dogs around the block (a fairly rare occurrence, and the dogs are still lying on the floor recovering) and found bags of grapefruit on a front fence around the corner with a sign on them saying “free to a good home”, or something of that nature. Clearly a sign for me to make mixed peel. It’s really easy.

Peel one grapefruit and two oranges (or one orange and a lemon, if that’s what you happen to have) with a sharp knife, you should include the pith in this exercise, unlike when zesting citrus. Chop the peel up until it looks like this:

Bung it in a saucepan and cover it with water. Bring the lot to the boil and boil for about five minutes, or for about the time it takes to check Facebook and empty the dishwasher. Strain, discarding the water, and do it again. Strain again, and return just the peel to the saucepan with two cups of water and one cup of caster sugar. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the peel is translucent. I can’t remember how long this is, because I haven’t done it since last year, but a good twenty minutes or so. I then drain it and put the sticky mess of peel in Tupperware and into the fridge. It makes enough for about two fruitcakes. I reserve the syrup in a separate container, intending to use it something else, but I generally end up throwing it out after a couple of months. I clearly need to make more cocktails.

You’ll get the actual fruitcake recipe some other time, but I’m off on holidays. It may be that I find our travels to be sufficiently amusing to document, it may not. I may not be able to wrestle the iPad from my husband during our moments of leisure. So don’t hold your breath, and I’ll be back muttering again in a couple of weeks.