Citrus Preserve sml.jpg

Lemon, lime and native lime fruit tea.

Korean Fruit Tea Preserve

This recipe is a type of sugar preservation method which has been employed for hundreds of years on the Korean peninsula. Any kind of fruit can be used, although in Korea it is most common with citron, kumquat, quince, jujube and ginger. This method is a decent short to medium-term (e.g. one winter) storage method for preserving citrus, pome, stonefruit, berries, dates and other fruit. The addition of citric (ascorbic) acid, approx. 2 grams per kg, at the mixing stage would increase shelf life considerably (12+ months storage).

I would welcome improvements to this method. The following is my wife's recipe.

Ingredients

Bicarbonate of soda, 1 tbs per 3 litres washing water.
Vinegar (any, preferably white or apple vinegar), 1 tbs per 3 litres washing water.
1 kg* organic fruit.
1 kg* sugar or honey, plus extra to fill.

* The usual fruit-to-sugar ratio is 1-1. If you have more or less fruit, the sugar can be adjusted accordingly. A 1 to 0.75 ratio of fruit-sugar is also possible, but the less sugar you use the less preservative effects occur.

Method

1. Thoroughly wash the skin of all the fruit in a bath of approximately 1 tbs of bicarbonate of soda to 3 litres of water (adjust for the quantity of fruit to be processed). Empty the bicarb bath and repeat a second time with 1 tbs vinegar to 3 litres of water. Air or towel dry the fruit before use.

2. Chop small citrus fruit length-wise, then slice into 1/2 cm pieces, or thinner, width-wise. Larger citrus can be cut into quarters lengthwise and then sliced width-wise. If required, de-seed then place pieces into a large mixing bowl. Pome fruits (apple, quince, pear) and ginger are best cut julienne style while still firm. Skins can be left on all fruit; this is why organic fruit, free of chemicals, is a must. Smaller fruits like berries may be left whole or halved (and de-seeded, if necessary, e.g. cherries, lilly pilly).

3. Add 750g of sugar or honey to the sliced fruit and mix well until all the fruit is completely coated in sugar or honey.

4. Using a spoon or ladle, fill sanitised** glass jars with the fruit-sugar mixture. Leave a gap of approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) from the lid (i.e. do not fill completely to the top with fruit).

5. Fill the final 1 inch (2.5cm) of each jar with the remaining 250g of sugar, or as much is required to completely fill the jar to just below the lid, before sealing and fixing lids onto the jars.

6. Leave in a cool, dark place for the first 3-5 days, rotating the jar onto its lid and back daily to ensure full sugar coverage. Liquid will begin to be pulled out of the fruit, infused with fruit oils and flavours. It is best to refrigerate jars after the first 3-5 days but they might also keep well in a dedicated cellar (less than 12 degrees C).

7. To serve, take 2-4 teaspoons of fruit and liquid and place into your favourite mug. Top up with boiled water, stir and enjoy! I personally eat the fruit as well, including the citrus peels if they're not too bitter!

8. Multiple teas can be mixed to create unique beverages, e.g. try mixing 2 tsp ginger tea with 2 tsp citrus tea for a pleasant decongestant drink!

** Glass jars can be of any kind, recycled or not, and sanitised by boiling the jars, wholly submersed in water, for 10 minutes prior to use. Stickers and glue on the outside of the jars can be removed using vinegar and elbow grease. Use tongs to remove hot jars from the water!

Note

Fruit preserved in this way may develop white mould at the surface, where floating fruit is exposed to the air beneath the lid. This is why the jar should be rotated regularly in the early preservation period, so that the extremely high-sugar environment inhibits fungal growth. Remove any mouldy fruit from the top layer; lower layers will be preserved fine and should still be edible. If you see any black mould growth, discard. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C powder), mentioned above as an optional addition, will assist greatly as a preservative to prevent mould growth.
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