Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Frugal Food: Making the Most of Your Produce - Oranges

Have you ever noticed how much of many foods we throw away? Even if you have a compost pile which puts your scraps to excellent use, most of us could still do a better job of maximizing our produce, and as a result our budgets. 

I have been doing a number of things to get the most from my produce which I want to share with you. We will start with citrus. Frequently when we peel an orange or juice a lime or lemon we just pitch the remains. But there is *so much flavor* in that peel that you are tossing. Instead, I've started taking a minute to peel off the zest and throw it in a labeled bag in the freezer. It is ready to go whenever I need zest for a recipe, even if I don't have whole fruit on hand. (When you peel the fruit do your best to only take the color and avoid the white pith as it is quite bitter.) If you need finely grated zest you can either chop it by hand or wiz it in your blender with a bit of something from the recipe you are making (sugar, flour, etc.). Or use it whole in the recipe below!

This is my favorite cranberry sauce. While I make it every year for the holidays there is no reason to limit your cranberry intake to just two months a year. Cranberries freeze beautifully, just toss the whole bag straight into your freezer. This sauce is sweet, but still tangy. It is based on this recipe, but I've changed the proportions considerably.

Simple Cranberry Sauce
This makes a little more than two cups. It is easily doubled and can be made well in advance and stashed in the 'fridge, which is always nice for holiday cooking.

4 cups (1 lb) whole cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 big strips orange zest
1 cinnamon stick

Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil then back the heat down to low and let simmer 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. It should be thick and glossy. If you prefer a thinner consistency you can add more orange juice or water to your liking. Remove the cinnamon stick and peel before storing or serving.

This cranberry sauce is nicely balanced. You need not only serve it at the holidays. It makes a great topping for pancakes, biscuits, and ice cream or along side seitan cutlets any time of year. 

Cranberries are nutrition powerhouses. When consumed regularly they have been shown to prevent urinary tract and bladder infections and kidney stones, and show promise as an anti-viral and in helping lower cholesterol, among other things. This is a nice change of pace (and a healthier choice) from the sugar-filled cranberry fruit "cocktail" for getting you daily dose of cranberry goodness.


ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

I love crepes with lemon juice and sugar too! Great minds eat alike ;o).

I love the idea of cranberry sauce on pancakes, too!

Denise Punger MD IBCLC said...

I have a ton of citrus now from our grandmothers tree (maybe you saw thatpost). I was thinking of what to do with the rinds. I freeze the lemon rind. I add a quarter rind to my smoothies.

Like you suggest I should save orange zest.

What can I do with grapefruit zest? And how about waxed citrus fruit?