Fermentation Experiment: Orange Rinds

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I recently posted about making wine from Cara Cara oranges, but what about the byproducts of that winemaking? After all those oranges were reamed for the wine (and a couple zested for the peel), there were a lot of leftover rinds with pulp and juice still clinging to them. A favorite wild-fermented beverage, Tepache, came to mind…why not try a similar ferment with the leftover orange rinds?

To a gallon jar, I added sliced rinds and about 3/4 cup of sugar (the sugar is needed for the ferment), then followed with dechlorinated water to the top of the jar. I stirred it briskly until the sugar was incorporated and then covered it with a breathable lid. Daily, I stirred the mixture vigorously to help aerate it and to “degas” it (remove carbon dioxide buildup – citrus ferments, in particular, can sometimes acquire a rotten egg odor from the COthat is naturally produced during fermentation). In a couple of days, I realized that the barrel jar was too small and moved the ferment into a 2 gallon fermentation bucket, adding more water and additional sugar in the same proportions.

At first tasting, about five days in, the liquid didn’t taste like much: kind of watery, without a strong orange flavor. Disappointing, but not all experiments are successes. Nonetheless, time can sometimes help a ferment transform into a useful and/or tasty substance, so I figured I’d let it continue to ferment until it turned into vinegar. I continued to stir it daily and noticed that some kind of matter was collecting at the top of the jar and that the liquid was becoming foamy (like Tepache does).

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Fast forward to sampling it 10 days later: it actually tastes very different – like a lightly fizzy orange soda, but with a different, more complex, flavor. Again, it’s similar to Tepache in that the beverage that results doesn’t taste exactly like the ingredients, but it’s tasty. It’s not sour, either. I strained and bottled it today, and ended up with about 5 liter-sized bottles that we’ll be enjoying (chilled) for days to come. Its sunny color and vibrant flavor brings a welcome taste of summer to these dreary, wet winter days.

Even if this experiment hadn’t resulted in a tasty fermented beverage (or vinegar!), I would still have had fun doing it because avoiding waste is its own reward.

Did you try making this fermented orange rind beverage? Comment and let us know how it turned out!

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