Zuccata

Homemade Candied Fruit

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Preparation info

  • Makes about

    3 pounds

    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

Great Italian Desserts

By Nick Malgieri

Published 1990

  • About

The difficulty in finding good-quality candied fruit led me to investigate the possibility of preparing it in small quantities at home. Though the process is a long one, it is not particularly difficult.

The procedures here are based on a description of the preparation of the classic Sicilian zuccata ’ncilipata, or syrup-candied zucchini. I admit that the idea of candied zucchini seems bizarre; in Sicily, a type of long, tender, light-colored squash that has only the slightest resemblance to our zucchini is used for this. I am indebted to Madre Maria Ildegarde Pirrone, abbess of the Santo Spirito Monastery, in Agrigento, for describing this preparation.

Since the type of zucchini used for this preparation is unavailable in the United States, I have also given instructions for using watermelon rind or underripe cantaloupe.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds long-necked zucchini, watermelon rind, or very underripe cantaloupe
  • 2 cups coarse salt
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup water

Method

If using the zucchini or watermelon rind, cut it into 2-inch chunks. For cantaloupe, halve, seed, and peel the melon before weighing it and cutting it into chunks.

Place the chunks in a nonreactive pan and pour on the salt. Toss the chunks in the salt and allow to stand, loosely covered with plastic wrap, at room temperature for 24 hours.

Rinse off the chunks and return to the pan. Cover with water. Place the pan in the sun and change the water 6 times daily for 3 days, until the water no longer tastes salty. (You can prepare this indoors, since the sun is not essential, but make sure the water is changed frequently.)

Drain the chunks. Place them in a nonreactive pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer; simmer very gently for 1 to 1Β½ hours, until tender. Drain and cool to room temperature.

Coarsely grate the cooked chunks either by hand or in a food processor, or pass through a meat grinder fitted with the coarse blade. Take handfuls of the grated zucchini or melon and squeeze out as much water as possible.

Bring the sugar, corn syrup, and water to a boil in a large pan and add the grated zucchini or melon. Return to a boil and lower to a very gentle simmer. Cook for 3 hours. As the mixture cooks, the water will evaporate and the syrup will thicken. If the syrup seems very thick, add Β½ cup water, return to a full boil, and lower to a gentle simmer again. Repeat the addition of the water as necessary while the mixture is cooking.

After the 3 hours of cooking, the zuccata will be translucent and the syrup will be very dense. Add Β½ cup water to the pan, return to a boil, and drain the zuccata in a colander in the sink. Cool the zuccata, pack it in plastic containers with tight-fitting lids, and store in the refrigerator.

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