Citron – not a small french car


…and plum pudding is not a pudding. Ever since I bought the 2006 Cook’s Illustrated Holiday Baking issue, I’ve had my eye on the recipe for “Old Fashioned Plum Pudding”. I’m a sucker for traditional European recipes, I’ve been making a Buche de Noel for the past 8 or so Christmas’ and the idea of making a grand entrance at dinner with a dessert ablaze is too tempting. Unfortunately, you have to be a little more organized to make a traditional plum pudding, it’s ideal to make it at least a month ahead, and I’ve never gotten myself pulled together enough to plan that far in advance. But, 2012 is finally the year of the blazing plum pudding. First hurdle:  candied citron.

As it turns out, citron is not just any citrus fruit peel that you have hanging around. After I put oranges on my shopping list, I thought I should actually look up citron and see if it is something specific. It is. It’s a citrus fruit found in more exotic climes than my neighborhood Fine Fare Supermarket. So, on a day when my mom was visiting from Connecticut,  I picked her up at Grand Central and we both made our way down to Curry Hill to the famous Kalustyan’s. Mom was looking for candied fruit for a Russian dessert recipe that my father’s mother gave her and I was on a candied citron mission. We didn’t have to look far, right inside the door were two bins of candied citron – diced and in rather intimidating large halves.  As it turns out, the citron fruit is mostly a very thick white rind with very little actual juice. I opted for the diced citron, and scooped a small amount of the very sticky stuff into a baggie.

Note the pale green color, nothing like the unnatural green citron bits found in your standard doorstop fruitcakes.

Mom found her candied fruit, and then we poked around the amazing selection of spices, jams, beans, etc that Kalustyan’s offers. I left Kalustyan’s feeling victorious and contemplating my next plum pudding hurdle: the large steamer pot.

Fortunately, my neighborhood Fine Fare Supermarket is just the place to find a steamer pot large enough to steam tamales and plum puddings.