What to do with extra oranges this festive period?
Does your family stockpile a large quantity of Mandarin Oranges during Chinese New Year? Mine sure does. These bright, juicy fruits always ubiquitously appear during this time of the year; in the kitchen, in the living room, in every hand-carry, in the car… You get the idea.
While my family never lacks oranges during this festive period, it almost always turns into an overwhelming question of what to do with them once the celebrations are over. Over the years, we’ve learnt that we can do so much more with the extra oranges than simply eating them or making multiple carafes of Mandarin Orange Juice. From edible savoury treats all the way to fragrant mandarin peel candles, here are 8 ideas to try with your abundant citrus pile!
1. Whip up Some Deep Fried Orange Chicken
A simple, delectable dish featuring the perfect balance of sweet, sour, and savoury flavours, this Orange Chicken recipe is guaranteed to be a hit with both young children and adults alike — and the oranges can be substituted with mandarin oranges! The sharp citrusy orange sauce cuts through the richness of the deep-fried chicken, creating a delicious contrast of flavours which will simply leave everyone wanting seconds (or more!).
Even better is that this flavour-packed dish only takes 15 minutes to prepare, which means that it’s really easy to whip up as a last-minute side dish. No more fretting if you ever run out of food to entertain your CNY guests!
Preparation Time: 15 minutes. Serves 3-4.
2. Pair It with Some Duck
Not a fan of chicken? Then how about having some duck instead. This Orange Sauce Duck Confit recipe features a duck dish drizzled generously in orange sauce, which pairs perfectly with the hearty, juicy meat. The original orange sauce in the recipe already elevates this standard duck dish, and we’re sure that using mandarin oranges, which are less tart and sweeter than usual oranges, will kick the duck’s flavour up a notch and make it even more delicious!
If confiting sounds unfamiliar to you, worry not — confit simply means “meat cooked slowly in fat or sugar syrup”, and we guarantee that you can prepare this sumptuous recipe on your first try. Don’t let the long preparation time deter you from attempting this dish; the duck will be sitting in the oven for most of the time, with minimal preparation required. All you have to do is simply follow the recipe!
Preparation Time: 4 hours. Serves 1.
3. Give a twist to the ol’ Chinese Lemon Chicken Chop
Way before the Korean and Taiwanese chicken crazes, Lemon Chicken was THE chicken dish of its time, beloved by all ages young and old. A tried-and-tested dish, it is no wonder Lemon Chicken is still a staple in many zi char kitchens and cai png stalls.
To give this classic recipe a refresh in the spirit of Chinese New Year, substitute the lemons with mandarin oranges instead — you’ll get a sweeter, less acidic version of the dish, but which may just delight your tastebuds. Being a symbol of good luck and prosperity, the mandarin oranges also lend additional significance to the original recipe, and bring a special touch to your CNY feasting!
Preparation Time: 25 minutes. Serves 4.
4. Sio Bak with Mandarin Orange Mustard
This Sio Bak with Mandarin Orange Mustard recipe is guaranteed to bring much huat to your Chinese New Year celebrations — not only does it feature sio bak, literally a quintessential dish of every CNY dining table, but also mandarin oranges, which practically screams CNY. The mandarin orange mustard sauce is sweet, tangy and spicy, adding a unique flavour dimension to the typical roasted sio bak. It’s the perfect dipping sauce for anyone who wants to enjoy an extra lucky version of the classic dish.
Making this auspicious dish the centrepiece of your dining table can not only awaken the spirit of the holiday, but also help you manage your mandarin orange stash!
Preparation Time: 3 hours. Serves 6.
5. Make Mandarin Orange Cleaning Spray
Credit: Real Simple
There’s bound to be some oil splatter in your kitchen after cooking up a storm of delicious orangey Lunar New Year meals. And now you can make cleaning spray from your unused orange scraps! My resourceful mum likes to use this orange spray to clean the kitchen, and the citrus scent always makes it smell so fresh and clean afterwards.
For general cleaning around the kitchen, we have a super simple recipe for you. Fill a jar with mandarin orange peels, then pour in enough white vinegar to submerge them. After covering the jar with a lid and leaving it in a cool, dark place for two weeks, this mandarin orange-vinegar concentrate is now ready to be mixed with equal parts water and be used for cleaning!
Do be extra careful when using vinegar on wood and natural stone surfaces, though, as the acidity may damage them or remove protective coatings.
6. Set the Mood with Mandarin Orange Candles
Credit: Autodesk Instructables
Having a CNY BBQ? Set the mood with some Mandarin Orange Candles around your BBQ pit. Not only do they provide a pleasant citrus scent, they are also an effective insect repellent, which works great to keep those pesky ants away from your food. The easiest way to make mandarin orange candles is to slice the fruit in half with a knife and remove the pulp, being careful not to pull out the bottom stem-like pith in the middle. Then, fill the orange with olive oil halfway, light the stem, and voila — a refreshing candle which can last you for hours!
Do exercise caution though, since this hack involves an open flame. Place your lit orange candle in a small clear bowl, especially if there are little ones about so that they don’t mistake it for a giant fruit snack!
7. Enjoy the Benefits of Mandarin Essential Oil
Credit: Organic Facts
Did you know that you can make mandarin essential oil from mandarin oranges? Not only does it smell wonderful, it also has many health benefits — it can calm you down, and aid in anti-inflammation and digestive issues, and much more.
To make homemade mandarin oil, wash and dry some mandarin oranges, remove the skin, then let dry for a few days. Add to a jar with vodka and water and shake, then leave it in a cool, dark place for a week. Afterwards, remove the mandarin peels and filter the solution into a bottle. And there you have it — mandarin essential oil which you can use for aromatherapy, skin care, and whatever else you fancy!
8. Freshen Your House with Mandarin Potpourri
Ring in the Lunar New Year with style and a heavenly scent with mandarin potpourri, using mandarin oranges you already have in your home! Not only will your home smell like a citrus paradise, it also really sets the mood for your festive open house.
To dry the mandarin slices for the potpourri, simply slice up however many mandarin oranges you like and pat them dry. Lay them on a baking sheet in an oven (preheated to 200°F/93°C), and bake for 3-4 hours, turning them halfway through. Finally let the slices sit overnight to finish drying. Now, they’re ready to be added to a decorative bowl of other aromatics (think cloves, cinnamon sticks, lavender, etc.) to freshen your living room, kitchen, or bathroom!
Don’t Throw Extra Mandarin Oranges Away
There are so many tasty and creative ways to use up extra mandarin oranges and make sure they don’t go to waste during this festive holiday season. Making food, juice, or cleaning sprays with these leftover sweet citruses are just some of the many ways my family utilises them after the new year. Have any yummy or fun ways you use mandarin oranges for? Share them with us over at The Meatmen FB group. Happy CNY!
P.S. Keep a lookout for The Mandarin, our CNY cocktail made from mandarin oranges over at raisethebar.sg!
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