Flavored sugars you say? Well we have all heard of the old standby Cinnamon Sugar blend and the trick of placing a vanilla bean in your sugar bowl for that beautiful, sweet taste of vanilla. I have been doing it for years.
But for the past several months I have been playing around with different essences of citrus to inject into the mix. The three favorites who have been a mainstay in my tea drinking repertoire are Lemon Sugar, Tangerine or Tangelo Sugar and a new one that is not citrus is my Fennel Sugar. Each gives a unique and distinct flavor nuance to the sipping ritual.
I have tried several versions and decided to share the ones that have really worked in delivering the best flavor.
In past experiments I would use a vegetable peeler and take just a strip or two of the lemon peel, excluding the white pith which is sour. Inserting it directly in a small batch of sugar, a cup or two, and sealing it for a week and tested it out.
After a couple tries, it was best to incorporate the peel directly with the sugar. I cleaned out my spice grinder, stripped a couple inches of lemon and dropped it in and gave it a couple pulses to grind.
I next added the sugar to fill the grinder, closed the lid and pushed the button. Whirling away and the smell was wonderful. Having the lemon peel ground in with the sugar worked best by far.
I will note here that there is a big difference in what you grind the sugar in. I found if you want a more powdered version then the spice grinder is the way to go, but if you want it to have a little more of the sugar texture still then the food processor fitted wit the steel blade will do the trick best.
Then I thought about other citrus peels and LOVE the Tangelo, which is a hybrid of a sweet tangerine and a tart grapefruit. I love them ice cold, but we need the citrus peel for this so I digress.
In making these I realized that pulsing the sugar with the peel was best, but at the same time I had to make sure not to over grind the sugar too. It becomes a light powder, which is great for dissolving quicker, but I liked the coarseness of the sugar.
I experimented with rock sugar and that was OK, but I found that if I kept the initial sugar amount first used with the peel to a small amount that was best. When that mixture was added to more unground sugar it was a better mix.
I also found that the addition of the peel made the sugar content moist and needed to lay out and dry a little before putting in my airtight containers for storage.
For the fennel I used lightly toasted fennel seeds and ground them first, then added the sugar and pulsed until incorporated. If it appeared to be a little on the visibly chunky side I gently sifted the mixture using a sieve. Who want floaters in their tea?
For a little visual color effect I added several fresh fennel fronds to the grinder with the sugar and mixed all together. These store well in small airtight mason jars with snap lids.
I hope you found these interesting enough to try yourself. Let me know how yours turn out and if you have any other flavor to share.