Thursday, September 3, 2009
I have always loved orangettes (sans chocolate), they're bitter, sweet, slightly toothy, and just plain lovely. I don't particularly like sickly sweet treats and I've always been more on the savory or flavorsome punch side. To my joy, as it turns out - the peel of an orange is a very important medicinal in the Chinese Materia Medica. It is used to soothe digestion, increase energy, improve circulation, treat phlegm (ex. sinus congestion), AND last but not least to help with blockages caused by stress (ex. tight muscles, tension headaches). Chen Pi is it's TCM name in pin yin (phonetic Chinese writing), for those so inclined to know. There is also another variant of this, Qing Pi, which is the unripened green or blue tangerine peel (or even green/blue), and is even more moving in terms of circulation than Chen Pi.
Now where does the lovely orangette come in to play in all this? Well, I like to make medicine taste good for you, for me, for everyone. And an orangette would be an excellent way to use the benefits mentioned above in dessert form. I will say this, if you are REALLY wanting to treat a more chronic or a specific condition, you would use the orange peel in a very different way than as an orangette. However, if you just want your dessert to not be phlegm-producing and sticky and heavy, then this is a lovely way to get a little punch after a meal....move everything around a bit, give you some energy, and make you happy. Below are two recipes, one would be for the orangettes and another for those that want to take this to a more serious medicinal level and make a tea out of orange peels.
If you want to make orangettes, it's quite simple. I saw many different recipes for this online, some use more sugar, some use less, some use dehydrators after, some air dry for two days, you will have to see what works for you best. I used the method of 1 cup sugar to 3 cups water, with a sprinkle of sea salt. Most recipes recommend removing the pith due to it's bitterness (which is the most medicinally beneficial, so I did not). I boil the peels for anywhere from 1 hour to 1.5 hours, you want to look for the translucency and you also want the sugar water to boil down to a liquidy syrup that is barely covering the orange peels as they are being transformed into little orangettes.
I have also made these with a few dried chile flakes in the concoction, which gives them a kick and increases their circulatory benefits. So, if you like a little spice, add some chile. After they have boiled down, you will gently remove them and place them on a drying tray (a cookie sheet works), you can then either dehydrate them if you have a dehydrator, you can lay them out in a dry cool (sunny if possible) place for 1-2 days, or you can slowly dehydrate them at 200 degrees F in the oven though this sometimes dries them out and they lose a little of that toothiness. That's it. I kept the remainder of the boiled down syrup in a jar to use in coffee or for dessert making or whatever would call for orange tinged syrup! I do not like to throw anything away which is probably where part of this recipe was born from, I juice an orange and keep the peels, then I make orangettes and keep the syrup! Serve them alone, serve them with coffee, or put them in a drink that might call for it such as a manhattan or something with cointreau.
If you want to make an orange peel tea which is going to be more medicinally-specific, then you would take the peel of one orange and boil it for 20 minutes to make approximately 2 cups of tea. This could be used to fight phlegm if you are chronically congested or if you are in the midst of a cold with cold signs (white mucus versus yellow). Or you can use it to treat a tension headache, which is usually an acute onset that lands right on the vertex or in between the eyes. These are some common examples, if you want more, just ask.