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Cleaning & De-Waxing Citrus for Garnishes, Punch, etc.


Chris Amirault
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I'm interested to know how people clean off the wax and other gunk on lemons, limes, oranges, and other citrus fruit that you use for twists and the like. Somewhere (DeGroff's new book?) I read about using the old tomato-skinning technique: douse the fruit in boiling water for a bit and then wipe off the melted wax. I have also been fiddling with quick blasts (10 seconds or so) in the microwave, which also has been working pretty well.

Are there other approaches to consider?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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If they remove anything but wax, they have to go to Time Out and Think About What They've Done.

Seriously, running hot water does the trick. No loss of zest, if that's what you're asking. The texture of the gloves is akin to a loofah (which, come to think of it, might work, too).

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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On a related tack, but not exactly on point, how does one get the $#Q()U* wax off of fruit where you eat the peels? I bought some beautiful Honeycrisp apples last week that are about the size of soft balls.....they are simply gorgeous. But when I went to wash one to take for lunch, I could not get past the slippery slope that was the surface of the thing.

According to the politically correct sign the the MegaMart I bought the apples from, its a "harmless vegetable glaze" but I do NOT want it on my apples. Or pears. Or tomatoes. Or anything, really.

--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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The better fruits for cocktailian purpose are of organic origin, especially when twists are needed.

One further way to get rid of those glazes is the dishwasher.

Give your fruits a tour along with the plates, pots and cutlery; Not sexy, but very efficient.

Gonçalo.

Gonçalo de Sousa Monteiro

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I ran into this just the other day, myself. A colleague suggested I "flash boil" my citrus to remove the coating; apparently that's what they did at his last job (Alinea) for everything citrus.

I tried it. I didn't use actual, 100ºC boiling water but I did douse the fruit under the near-boiling water from the coffee machine.

No matter what I did the fruit would get a thin, pale layer of wax on the outside after they dried and came back to room temperature. It almost seemed like the wax just welled up on the surface where it then hardened. They were quite unusable.

Letting them sit longer in the hot water produced the same result, but also browned the fruit in an extremely unappetizing manner. I wonder what Alinea does to avoid these problems.

Pip Hanson | Marvel Bar

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Interesting topic

I usually soak my lemons in hot water for a few minutes, as tis also wrms up the fruit and SHOULD give me more juice. Yet, when I take the fruit out and let it dry, I still get white spots. I've tried changing eh water, and using a bar towel to wipe off the stuff, but it's not 100%.

What IS that stuff anyway? Paraffin and/or mineral oil?

On some fruit, like grape fruit, it almost seems to be a varnish or shellac. You see fine crumbs of the stuff in the bag or box and it wears off.

On a side note, which do you find more bothersome: The little stickers on each and every piece of fruit, or the ink stanps?

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On a side note, which do you find more bothersome: The little stickers on each and every piece of fruit, or the ink stanps?

The little stickers are pure EVIL. The ink I believe, is a vegetable dye, and in my experience, washes off pretty easily.

The EVIL stickers pull thin skins like pears and stone fruit along with them, or they don't want to come off at all, and you have to gouge out a hole to remove them. One of the worst inventions ever.

--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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I think that lemons and limes have different coatings on them. I was able to wipe off the lemons if I (1) gave them a 10-sec bath in boiling water; (2) dropped them immediately wet into my hand and (3) vigorously paper toweled the wax off. The limes were much more resistant.

FWIW, those lacking asbestos hands would do well to wear gloves of some sort while doing this activity. I'm pretty hardy myself, but after a dozen: yee-owch.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Very recently, I heard that common white vinegar is effective in removing the waxy coatings put on fruit and vegies.

When I don't do the boiling water dunk & wipe, I will soak fruit in water with some white vinegar, then wipe well.

I have no way of measuring real effect, but I do it with good intention and can only hope it is cleaner than when I started. :smile:

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I kind of feel dopey asking this, but why does it matter if there is a little paraffin on a lemon? I normally rinse the stamps off with warm water but as long as the peel expresses oil I never give it a second thought when using for garnish. And if the wax helps it stay oily longer, then I'm all for it. Am I missing something here?

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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I kinda know what you mean when it comes to cut fruit. The difference seems like it would be negligible.

The issue arises, I think, when you're doing infusions, syrups or cordials using the fruit skin and there is more potential for the whatever-is-on-there to be ingested or otherwise affect the flavor.

Pip Hanson | Marvel Bar

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The answer is: surfactant.

There are surfactants sold specifically as produce-wash solutions, some organic, and there are home-concocted surfactants ranging from diluted dishsoap to vinegar. We had a discussion about produce wash in '07 and I think those who got involved had good results with both produce-wash products and diluted dishsoap (the dishsoap being a lot cheaper).

What I learned then, and what I've learned many times since, is that washing fruits and vegetables -- especially those coated with wax like apples, cucumbers and citrus fruits -- is a lot like washing anything else. If you do it with just water, or just water and scrubbing, you don't necessarily do as well as when you give yourself a chemical boost with a surfactant that breaks up wax and oil (actually it's about surface tension, but the result is that it breaks up wax and oil). Also in the category of a chemical boost: warm water is better than cold. Physical scrubbing has its place too, though with the help of a surfactant you don't need to work nearly as hard. If I fill a bowl with warm water and produce wash, and soak a few lemons for a few minutes, then just sort of scrub with my bare hands, they come out really nice and clean.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Yep. That's the way I do it. Fill the sink with tepid water, drop in the citrus, add a single drop of Dawn, rub my hands over each fruit until they no longer feel slippery, then drain the sink, rinse the fruit with fresh water... done deal.

--

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Probably my mistake, with organic I meant untreated.

Here, in Germany those fruits are labeled as 'Bio' (short form of biological, equivalant to organic)

No chemical treatment and hence unwaxed.

kind regards, G.

Gonçalo de Sousa Monteiro

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