The season of Daikan (greater cold) lived up to its name this year unlike any other. It was the coldest stretch on record in my time in Mirukashi. Last week temperatures were below zero nightly and rarely peaked above 2 or 3 degrees during the day. Flurries of snow were constant though not accumulative.
I’m from New England so as far as winters go, it all seemed fairly mild to me, but for the fact that here it’s quite unusual so we aren’t well equipped for it. Get a wood stove roaring in a well insulated New England house and despite heavy snowfall and frigid temperatures, it can run hot inside. Our house here, being only 15 years old, is as well insulated as they come, but on the coldest day the wood stove struggles to heat its furthest corners and we wake to our breath condensing in the cold morning air.
The coldest snap came right at the start. It’s the season for me to harvest my daidai little by little to make batches of marmalade. But with temperatures set to plunge and stay that way, I decided to harvest all the fruit at once and save it from freezing on the tree. So now I have baskets upon baskets of them waiting to be processed. It’s a delightful challenge – what to do with so many beautiful bitter oranges. It’s got me dreaming up different ideas that I’ve never tried before like dried and powdered peels to use as a seasoning or cocktail garnish and daidai-kosho, a riff on yuzu-kosho, a zesty paste of citrus peel, salt, and togarashi hot pepper.
Alright then, off to peel a few dozen more oranges and keep experimenting…