One of the students of the language school I work for gave me a few hassaku oranges the other day. Now, I hate to say this but I'm not too crazy about hassaku. It's not easy to peel it like tangerine, and the white part can be quite bitter. Unless the fruit is very ripe and sweet, the bitterness from the pulp can really ruin the overall taste, and I often get disappointed.
So, instead of eating them right away, I decided to make marmalade with them. That way I would be able to do something about the bitterness, I thought. It was not my first time making marmalade out of citrus fruit with bitter rind and pulp, such as konatsu. I had a great success before, and the key was rubbing the shredded rind with salt thoroughly before boiling and soaking it in water. That should work for hassaku oranges, too, I thought.
How naive of me.
I spent so much time doing this:
... and this:
I rubbed these rind strips with salt, then boiled them, drained them, boiled again, drained again and repeated that for a couple more times. After that, I soaked them in water for at least three hours.
Then added the flesh to the rind and cooked with a good amount of sugar.
The result was...
Gosh it was DARN B-I-T-T-E-R!! :O WHY????
I didn't get it. The rind didn't taste bitter very much when I tasted it before cooking. But for some reason, the marmalade turned out VERY bitter.
Now how can you save bitter marmalade? I know something fatty can make bitterness milder, but I don't want any fatty stuff in my marmalade. Maybe more sugar and ... alcohol? Because in my hometown we use distilled spirit to remove astringent taste from persimmons... Finally I ended up cooking the marmalade again with more sugar and generous amount of leftover Myers's Rum.
You know what? It helped!! The rum really added pleasant flavor and the bitterness became tolerable. But still it takes some courage to eat this hassaku marmalade on toasted bread or with yogurt.
And I even tried combining it with something fatty, i.e. butter. I baked some into buttery pound cake.
This cake certainly smelled heavenly with the butter and the rum. If the aftertaste of the hassaku rind did not ruin the harmony at the end, I could have called this cake a great success.
- Sigh -
So what did I learn from this experience? Often hard work does not get rewarded? That's Life? Or it is always sugar and booze that reduces the bitterness of life? :P