Monday, April 12, 2010

Spice University - Fruit Powders

A Little Spice of Life
From The Colonel

When is a juice not a juice? When it’s a powder.

The store is known for a lot of things, one of the most unusual is the amount of different powders that are available. There are powdered herbs and spices, vegetable powders (more on these in a later article, and fruit powders. Fruit powder? Yes, I want to cover three of them for you. Most of us are familiar with herb and spice powders, for example, allspice, cumin, basil, mustard, and rosemary are available in powder form to name a few. We use these when we are trying not to introduce a coarse or chewy ingredient into a particular dish. The powder will tend to blend in and not be noticed for its texture, but just for its taste and flavor. Now let’s go over the fruit powders.

All of the powders we will discuss are citrus fruits. First let’s cover orange powder. If you were going to be doing some baking that called for an orange extract or just a touch of orange flavor, I would suggest using a little orange powder. This powder is dehydrated orange juice. So you can even reconstitute it back to orange juice with a teaspoon of powder per quarter cup of water. One of the secrets of using this powder is how well it works in rubs and spice blends. It is also great added to sauces, especially those intended for duck dishes. It is perfect for icings, sauces, glazes. It will add extra flavor to cookies & cakes. If you really want to make a tasty orange treat, add a little orange zest either fresh or dried. We have a blend that we do at the store that is nicknamed, “sin in a jar”. It is a combination of sugar, orange and cinnamon.

The next powder to consider is lemon powder. There are so many ways to use this powder. Many of the customers that come to my store and get lemon powder will use it straight to make lemonade. Just like orange it is one teaspoon of lemon powder to a quarter cup of water. They may also use it to enhance their fresh squeezed lemonade with the powder. As with orange, you can mix it in with lime powder and create all sorts of good things. I like to use it to make citrus salts or mixed with sugar to make a citrus sugar. This powder is great added to rubs and spice blends or simply sprinkled on any meat, but chicken and fish are particularly flavorful. Adding a little lemon zest to the powder is quite good as well. We use this powder along with zest from Spanish lemons and ground Tellicherry peppercorns to make a fantastic lemon pepper. If you want a good example of caveat emptor (buyer beware), go to the grocery store and read the ingredients list on most lemon peppers. Surprise! Most of them contain large amounts of salt. Sigh!

Finally, we come to lime powder. As with lemon powder there are many ways to use lime powder. I often use it combined with lemon powder to give me a very strong citrus flavor. Now that we are in the troughs of summer and fresh corn on the cob is readily available, take lemon powder, lime powder and pink peppercorns (ground to a powder). Mix these together and then add them to butter (make as if you were making an herbed butter). Now spread this wonderful compound butter on an ear of fresh corn and call me when it is ready. You may enhance lime powder with the zest of lime, but it is more difficult to do than with lemons and oranges. Limes have such thin skin that it is hard to zest without getting too much pith along with the zest. This will make the zest more bitter than you will want it. So, be careful when zesting limes.

There are many other fruit powders. Most are used commercially to be added to other products. Working with powders is fun and very rewarding in the kitchen. Don’t hesitate to give them a try.


Citrus Peppercorn Herb Butter

Colonel De Stewart

No comments: