Citrus Jelly Babies (Pate de Fruit)

My lovely and generous neighbor Michele had a LOT of citrus on her trees this season, and she's not the only one.  Seems everywhere I went before Christmas, someone was graciously offering or eagerly taking lemons, oranges, tangerines or satsumas. I've been asking everybody who's taking or giving: "What do you do with it?"

I have heard precisely three replies:
  • eat one a day (oranges),  
  • make one pitcher of lemonade after another, and 
  • freeze lemon juice as ice cubes. 

That's it.

Come on, now. In a part of the world celebrated for its food? With the internet and Pinterest in our very pockets? That's the best we can do? I don't think so.

When there's fresh fruit to be had and neighbors willing to donate it in the interest of (kitchen) science, I'm determined to try as many recipes as possible that don't end with "-ade."

So far: 
citrus handscrub
citricello (and each in the "di crema" variety as well)
orange corriander liqueur
candied peels
orange vanilla bean jelly
lemon vanilla bean jelly
burgandy orange jelly
the first two jellies in a no-sugar-added variety
orange date walnut bread
lemon ricotta muffins
fruit leather
dried fruit sections for hot tea/snacking

whole fruit pate de fruit made without gelatin and molded into "gingerbread people"
And these. They are made from an old Iraqi recipe I found online in the middle of one night and now cannot find to save me. (If you know where it is, please tell me, and I'll give credit!)

I made these before Christmas, sorry. We've been caught up in such a crazy time around here since then with so many more serious issues to think about that I never got around to posting it. Still, they're worth looking at even in January. Ponder the possibilities for snacks in non-Christmas shapes; it's what I'm doing. Hearts for Valentines (post soon!), Crowns for Mardi Gras, Shamrocks for St. Patty's Day.

Or just cubes for the average Thursday, like these:
<img src="" alt="citrus pate de fruit">
These little sweeties are what the French call pate de fruit [PAHT duh fwee] and pastilles by the British. Think gumdrops, but all natural, or think your morning glass of orange juice molded into candy-aisle orange slices.

Think yum.

I think they might be vegan friendly, since they don't use commercial gelatin like most recipes do, but I'm not sure. It's just one whole piece of fruit, some sugar, and a little time (most of it without your attention), and the results were perfect for both the season's bounty and the season's gifting.

Time: about 10-minutes hands-on time, about 40 minutes total.

[Click HERE for a printable recipe without the narrative.]

one nice-sized orange (see below for other citrus to use)
3/4 cup sugar
 maybe just a little powdered pectin, depending (see recipe)
(Don't's not hard at all!)

keep the orange submerged under boiling water with a smaller pot lid!
Boil the fruit whole in enough water to cover. I used a pot lid from a smaller pot to hold the fruit under the water, as you can see in the picture at right.

While the fruit is cooking, prepare your container. You can use a pan lined with parchment and slice the candy into cubes. Or, if you have them, spray with non-stick cooking spray and use a silicone mold like this "anyday" shape or the holiday-appropriate mold of your choice.

Dip the fruit out into a bowl and dump the water. You'll need the pot in a little while. Let the fruit cool enough so you can easily touch it.

Remove all the seeds. Really, every one. (You'll have little dots in your jellies if you don't.)

Decision time: how much do you like the slight bitterness of pith? The thickening power of the pectin is in the peel, so I think you might need at least some of the peel in the slurry.  If you like it a lot, dump the whole fruit and any juices that have run out into your blender. If, like me, you're fonder of biting into very sweet things that don't bite you back, remove and discard about half of the peel. THEN dump everything in the blender.

Add 3/4 cup sugar to the blender and liquefy the contents. If you discover you missed a seed, use a knife blade to remove it. (I don't know why this works at removing particles without taking too much fruit with it, but it does.) Some bigger bits of zest look pretty and work out just fine, but do puree the fruit. No lumps allowed!

Return this sugary slurry to the pot. If you've removed part of the peel, sprinkle 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of powdered pectin over the top, depending on how juicy your fruit turned out to be. (I used Ball low-sugar pectin.) Heat over medium to a low boil.

Watch and stir frequently (or end up scrubbing to get rid of stuck-on goop...not that I know that or anything) until it's nice and thick. You'll know it's done when you dip a wooden spoon in and it clings instead of drips. Tip: don't let it cook too long, or it will CLUMP instead of cling.

Spread into the prepared pan and use a spatula to smooth the top, or dip by spoonfuls into whatever mold you want to use. Set aside for 4 hours or longer to firm up.

Finally, sugar coat everything. Prepare a pan with superfine sugar or granulated sugar spread about 1/4 inch deep. Slice or unmold your jelly and place in the sugar. Roll to cover, leave to sit for a day or so. Roll them every time you pass by. The flavor improves and so does the texture, so a day or more of rest-and-roll is ideal.

Look how pretty!

<img src="" alt="citrus pate de fruit">
Other citrus fruit variations I've tried:
--one of our very large local Meyer lemons 
--three limes
--three tangerines
--two of Michele's Satsumas for a lovely bright orange color

Added Flavoring ideas:
--half a vanilla bean to orange or lemon
--1/2 t grated ginger to orange, satsuma, or tangerine (perfect for my "gingerbread people" molds!)
--1/4 t ground nutmeg or cinnamon
(I think the vanilla is my favorite addition, but just plain orange is just plain delicious, too.)

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