29 October 2012

oranges and lemons :: a healthy halloween snack

Him: Why have you bought ten organic lemons... and dare I ask about the vodka?
Me: To make limoncello for Christmas gifts... obviously.
You mean the stuff that everyone brings back from their first Italian holiday only to sit at the back the in-laws' booze cupboard for the next twenty years?
The stuff we didn't even drink in that place in Naples where they kept trying to hand it out for free?
It's for putting in all those pretty blue beer bottles you got through a few months ago.
No-one in the history of the world actually likes limoncello...
But they might from a pretty blue bottle. Maybe?
...because even the stuff made by actual professionals in actual Italy with actual lemon trees tastes like mosquito repellent.
Well, okay, so he might have a point. I hate the stuff too.

But that's not really relevant where homemade Christmas gifts are concerned. They're about forcing your friends and relations to rave about "how fabulous it is to get something homemade darling", and "oh aren't you sweet, how did you know I love blue glass!" Before shoving them at the back of their drink cupboards for the next twenty years.

And a few of my friends don't even drink.

Making stuff I hate seems to have been the theme for this October holiday. Because at the end of the day, it was more about keeping my five year old's hands busy while I nursed the dragon baby for two solid weeks. The end products of all our industry were, like homemade limoncello, frequently irrelevant. Mixing and casting tiny clay bricks with which to build a tiny brick house was a particular low point for me. (No, I am not even kidding. I now have a renewed respect for Lego.)

And Halloween forced me into my least favourite activity. AGAIN. Namely, sewing eyesight-sapping black fabric together with black thread in what's left of the failing autumnal daylight and 10 minutes before we have to leave for the party. This year it was in aid of a bat costume. Next year it's going to be a white ghost suit and a trip to the optician, not necessarily in that order.

But in the (ahem) "spirit" of Halloween (yes, that's right, I'm allowed to snarl and you won't even know if I'm hating on Halloween or just being scary), here's a last-minute party snack idea if you need one before the big night. Now I know that Halloween is an exercise in stuffing kids so full of refined sugar that they vomit on the neighbours' carpets (I've done Halloween "American-style" once before and it was simply terrifying) but this has the advantage of being a snack that children are attracted to while remaining sugar-free and fruit-based. Just call me Scrooge... sorta.

Orange jellies
makes 24

6 oranges
two packets of jelly powder (I used Hartleys sugar-free sachets in Strawberry and Blackcurrant)

very sharp knife
ice cream scoop
large bowl
two 6-hole muffin trays
- half the oranges
- scoop out the flesh into your bowl (I found an ice cream scoop ideal for this) and juice the pulp roughly (just squeeze it with your hands)
- balance the half skins in the muffin trays
- make up a slightly-stronger-that-usual mix of jelly (you want it to be firm enough to cut well: I used 200ml boiling water to dissolve the jelly powder and then topped up to 350ml with orange juice from the pulp)
- pour into the orange skins and refrigerate overnight   
- once thoroughly set, place flat side down on a chopping board and slice in half with your sharpest knife
I'm already having ideas about using this technique for other holidays - little sparkly clementines for Christmas perhaps, or fuchsia dragonfruit for Chinese New Year?

Of course it goes without saying: I hate jelly. So I have no idea how this tastes. Can't be any worse than limoncello though. Can it?


  1. I make picallili for my mum for christmas - I hate making that stuff with a passion (you boil onions in vinegar - on what planet is that a good idea?!) - so I know just what you mean ;)

    1. The piccalilli process sounds grim indeed! But the result is yummy. Conversely, the limoncello process is fun, but the result is nasty! I can't think which is worse except that my product smacks of 'form over function'!

  2. I found that limoncello can be used to make a twist on the moscow mule (vodka and ginger ale) by adding ginger beer. It is toothachingly sweet so we named it the moscow my little pony :)

    1. Ha! Moscow my little pony sounds brilliant!

  3. Oooh I love the jellies! I think I would do lime ones - yum. So pretty. Like having a serving dish full of jewels.
    I love Halloween now. As long as I can keep the sewing to a minimum. Go with buying costumes from etsy - hand-made, quality, unique but without the effort! :)

    1. They were pretty indeed, but interestingly, a couple of the kids didn't like the idea of them at all (too close to actual fruit perhaps?!)

  4. I love these - such an interesting way of serving jelly.

    1. I saw some cute ones online that were red jelly in lime skins with black dots of some kind through the jelly: mini watermelons! So cute!

  5. Have you thought of a career in stand up? I really think you would make a go of it ;)

    Try Santa's Little Helper ... oranges not lemons, rum and white wine ... all I got back last year was empty bottles with requests for more this year. But I had a surfeit of blackberries so they're getting cough syrup, I mean Blackberry Vodka, this Christmas. That's just the way it is :)

    Recipe for SLH here, sorry looks like it's only available cached now hence long link http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:lF_tkdioEs4J:www.lavenderandlovage.com/2011/10/lets-make-christmas-santas-little-helper-and-home-made-orange-liqueur.html+&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk

    1. Loving the sound of 'Annie's grown up cough syrup' as Christmas gifts! We could open a boozy apothecary between us!

  6. I don't like jelly either, but Limoncello I do like. My FIL (who is of course Italian) makes his own and its actually very good, actually lemony!

    1. Be careful what you say here, I might send you some of my poisonous brew if you aren't careful!!!

  7. Ooo those jellies are such a fantastic idea. I think I'd try limes with a gin jelly… I've never tried real limoncello from Italy, but I did try making some a year or so ago since I had a massive surplus of lemons. I discovered that if you pop it in the freezer so that it turns a bit slushy, it goes down rather well…

  8. I saw something similar on Pinterest...I was wary as I seem to always get in over my head when it comes to Pinterest...but these do seem pretty easy!
    Good luck with the limoncello!

    Visiting from POTMC!

  9. Really clever idea.

    I think Lemons in blue glass look great! But yeah... would then swiftly go in the back of the cupboard.


  10. Hahaha ... I LOVE limoncello ... I hadn't realised there was something wrong with me until I read this post!! ... every year, we buy a bottle of liquer for Christmas, and it's either cointreau, frangelico or limoncello! And I have a baby and a 5-year-old, and I love lego about as much as limoncello, I give it (the lego, not the limoncello!) almost all credit for developing such a good sibling bond (that the 5-year-old always has something to do while I'm feeding the baby :)

    1. Limoncello would certainly develop a ... unique sibling bond!

  11. I always wondered how they got the jelly in there! Half and then cut - der!!! Thanks for this. x

  12. Fun!

    Do you know the "American Girl Dolls?" in the US?... it's just the most amazing doll, book, atmosphere... it's worth another post -- but, I think of it now because we went to a "doll tea party" at their restaurant and we were served these for the first time but they were lime peels filled with strawberry jello to look like watermelons. Thank you for taking me back to this great memory!

  13. Fabulous jellies! I love those blue bottles, no matter what's in them :)

  14. Love your Halloween party snack idea...and I actually rather like Limoncello too! A few months ago I used it in some mini lemon cupcakes and they were delicious!!! Anyway surely it's the thought that counts!!! ;-)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...