Posted 30 July 2004 - 02:44 PM
I want to make a couple of comments. I do not drink alcohol but I have many friends that do and I make many of my own flavorings.
If you are in a state where Everclear is legal, try using it. It is straight grain alcohol and extracts much more flavor from whatever you put in it than 100 proof vodka. It is available online but they do not ship to certain states, including California.
The other thing is, even with the microplaners, it takes a fair amount of time to grate a lot of zest. I make a lot of citrus syrup with zest and keep it in the fridge with the zest still in for up to 6 weeks, then strain the zest out and the syrup can then be heated and canned in jars and stored at room temperature.
during that 6 weeks, the zest can be dipped out of the syrup and used in pastry, (scones especially) in dressings, chutneys, and so on.
I need cups full of the stuff and there is no way I am going to spend all that time with a microplane. I do 4 or 5 pounds of lemons or oranges at a time, scrub them well with a nail brush which I keep just for this use. Then dry them with a towel.
Using a vegetable peeler (and the serrated one is perfect for taking off just enough) I peel off the colored part of the rind, let them sit for half an hour or so, so it drys just a bit, then I put several pieces into one of my spice grinders and turn it on, shaking to make sure it is all finely shredded, then dump that out and do another batch. I use one of the brushes especially made for cleaning the grinders, available at most coffee specialty stores, to sweep out the zest.
If you have only one grinder and need to use it for various things this is the best way to clean it between batches of strongly flavored things.
Put two heaping tablespoons of baking soda and 4 saltines, broken, into the grinder and turn it on and run it for 15 seconds, shaking and turning it upside down while it is running (hold the top on).
This will remove oils, caked on coffee, cinnamon, cloves, and etc. Occasionally you might have to reapeat it a second time if it is really gunky but usually one pass is all you need. Wipe it out with a paper towel and it is ready to use on something else. It also polishes the bowl and the blade.
I have a Krups that is 10 years old and still looks new and it has been used on everything.
Whenever I see them on sale for some ridiculous low price (like the KitchenAid I got for $8.00) I buy it and stick it away because eventually I know I will find a use for it, drop one and break the body, or leave one at a place where I have gone to cook, etc.
"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!
" Terry PratchettMy blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening