OMG – I’ve died and gone to heaven …
I’ve just tried my first batch of home-made Burnt Citrus Syrup and it tastes fabulous.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. About a month ago, I lunched at Popla, a new Bellingen restaurant, where I tried their home-made Chinotto Mocktail. It was spicy, sour, sweet, smoky, citrus and delicious. It set me thinking about an Italian soft drink I had tried when I was young. So I tracked down a bottle of Chinotto and tried it – it was truly HORRIBLE! When I looked at the ingredients, I discovered that it was entirely made of chemicals – not even a trace of the Chinotto orange after which it is named.
Surely with my abundance of ugly, misshapen citrus, I could do better?
After a few minutes searching on the internet, I had enough information to give it a go. You need sweet and sour citrus – I used orange, mandarin and cumquat with a few bought, locally grown pink grapefruit. For the spices I used coriander seeds, rosemary, cinnamon sticks, black peppercorns, cloves (sparingly) and star anise (also sparingly). I chopped the citrus into chunks, popped them on some baking paper in a large roasting pan and sprinkled over the herbs and spices.
Then I slow roasted them in the oven at 130C (260F) for four to five hours. Your kitchen will smell wonderful, but the result will look a bit like a baking disaster. Never fear, it’s all good.
I allowed the citrus to cool and then split it into three wide mouthed sterilised jars, filled them with sugar syrup and waited for one month. This is the hardest part.
Then it’s tasting time … try the syrup in sparkling wine, with gin, soda or tonic water. Pop a piece of the burnt citrus in the bottom of your glass and eat it at the end when it’s a bit sozzled. Amazing and a little bit deadly. Tasting is quite strenuous so excuse me, I need a little nap … after which I will post the full recipe.