Ferment This: Grapefruit Rind Syrup

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After reaming all those grapefruit for wine, I was left with a sizable pile of rinds. If you’ve seen our Instagram page, you know that we try to avoid food waste, and that you can make some pretty cool – and tasty – products from “waste” (like tepache from pineapple rinds and cores!).

When I made the Cara Cara orange wine (which, BTW, we tasted recently), I used the rinds to make a fermented beverage. It turned out tasty and we enjoyed it thoroughly. This time, I wanted to do something a little different…so I infused a sugar-water syrup with the rinds, hoping to approximate some of the oleo-saccharum effect and ultimately end up with a strongly-flavored syrup that could be used for cocktails, water kefir, and other beverages.

Oleo-saccharum is made from just citrus peels and sugar. The peels and sugar are muddled together and left for a few hours, during which the sugar extracts the oils from the peels and creates a concentrated citrus-flavored syrup. The rinds from the reamed grapefruit still contained juice, as well as the peel and pulp remnants, so I knew that the finished syrup would be less concentrated than if only using the peels and sugar. Nonetheless, I made a slightly less sweet simple syrup (using half the sugar, so a 2:1 ratio of water to sugar) and then poured it over the sliced-up rinds that I had already packed into two half-gallon jars. I slipped on the lids, fastened them tight, and left the lot for a few days.

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When I checked on the syrup, it was bubbling vigorously – uh oh. It was already a tight fit in those jars, and when I opened them, the pressure forced some of the syrup out. Time for a larger container! I transferred the mixture into a gallon jar plus a quart jar and topped up the jars with additional simple syrup to avoid having too much headspace. I also placed fermentation weights at the top of the jars to reduce the rinds’ air contact. While we had the jars open, though, we had to sample the syrup to assess progress: it was still very sweet, but the grapefruit flavor was bright, crisp, and amazing.

I’ll let the grapefruit rind ferment continue for another week or so, tasting it periodically to ensure it doesn’t venture too far into sour territory. As with the orange rind ferment, it’s immensely gratifying to take a “waste” product that might otherwise be thrown away and make something tasty (and probiotic) from it. It’s a reminder that we could look at “waste” very differently – and that we might be pleasantly surprised when we put it to work for us!

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