Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mandarin Sugar...and birds!

Mandarin trees are a pretty common sight in New Zealand gardens. It's a good thing, as they are such a delicious fruit. Problem is, you'll have to collect the fruit before all the birds get to them; they love 'em as much as us we do. But this year we kinda let the birds have free range because this years crop of mandarins was a bit of a dud. They were pretty sour and unpalatable. There was an upside though, it meant I could indulge in my new favourite hobby, bird watching. It sounds nerdy, but it's fun and interesting, just like being a detective. Okay so maybe not that cool, but still, nature is so amazing so why not take the time to appreciate the awesome flora and fauna that surrounds us. Even in our own backyards.

Silvereye, munching on a mandarin from our tree.

Even though we weren't going to eat many of this seasons mandarins I still wanted to salvage something from them. So I used the skins to make some mandarin sugar. You've probably heard of vanilla sugar, where you put a vanilla pod in a jar of sugar so that that the vanilla infuses into the sugar. Well this is a similar deal using dried mandarin peel to create a lovely citrus flavoured sugar. It can then be used for a range of things: sprinkled over your cereal, on top of poached fruit, on top of muffins or cookies before they're baked, on pancakes, french toast or just even on top of plain buttered toast...

To make the mandarin sugar you'll need about 100g of mandarin skins, about five medium sized mandarins should do it. Line a baking tray with non-stick paper and lay the mandarin skins on top. Pop them in a preheat oven at 120 Celsius (248 Fahrenheit). Bake them for approx 30-45 minutes until they have dried out completely. You might want to turn them over during this time. Let them cool down then either grind them in a food processor or mortar and pestle. Mix in 200g of granulated sugar and you're done! Store it in a dry glass jar with a tight lid for best results.

Since my actual mandarin segments were pretty damn yuck, I threw them outside to the birds. They were hesitant at first, but then they had a feast...

Mandarin Sugar recipe adapted from Micheal Daly's super-rad book 'Find It, Eat It'.


  1. Could I substitute orange for mandarin???

    1. Never tried it but I don't see why not, sounds like a great idea. Might have to try it myself. We have heaps of lemons too, so looks like I'll have to do more experimenting!


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