He goes by many names – Japanese Hardy Orange, Chinese Bitter Orange, Poncirus Trifoliata, Trifolate Orange, Gou Ju..
Poncirus Trifolate, oddly, isn’t actually a citrus plant even though it produces a type of citrus fruit. It is closer related to a Limeberry or Sapote tree. Being extremely cold hardy, citrus growers will often graft onto the root stock to increase the hardiness of their intended crop. The actual fruit of the flying dragon… well, it’s a labor of love.
Characterized by deciduous leaves, severely contorted branches, and wicked, wicked, evil 1.5″ to 2″ spikes emerging alternately with the branches. The flying dragon gained wide popularity in the early part of the 20th century when it was introduced from Japan as a specimen tree. It has since made it’s way onto several noxious plant listings and considered a hazzard in pastured areas due mainly to the profusion of seeds in a single fruit and the danger the ridiculously sharp thorns are to livestock.
And then… there’s the whole edible / not edible thing….
The fruit is an oddly fuzzy, golf ball sized globe – jam-packed with seeds. (The average count was between 20 and 25 per fruit that I opened.) The white pith layer just beneath the rind is saturated with an extremely sticky sap the consistency of lacquer, and caution needs to be taken to avoid adhering it to any unwanted surface. And, of course, the actual fruit. It’s aggressive. Unbelievably sour, slightly bitter with orangy – lemony – yuzu – cedar notes. It makes a marvelous marmalade.
Although flying dragon marmalade is going to be tarter than any standard marmalade, that tartness and the deep layered citrus flavors work wonderfully as an accompaniment for grilled vegetables or seafood.
Flying Dragon Marmalade
Makes 2.5 Cups of Marmalade
Ingredients and Materials
40 Flying Dragon Fruit
2 Cups Water
5 Cups Sugar
4 250 ML Jam Jars
2 Large Ceramic or Glass Bowls
SilPat – or any other counter-top cover
Large Spoon for Scumming
Large Sauce Pan
- With the T peeler, peel a ring around the center of the fruit (repeat for all 40) – reserve the peeled rind. You wont need all the peeling from all the fruit, and the center peel will give you a flat, straight rind to cut for the marmalade.
- Cut the fruit in 1/2 at the peeled area
- With the strainer over the bowl, squeeze all of the contents from the fruit into the strainer. Run your finger inside the 1/2 and collapse all the chambers – Repeat for all pieces.
- Place the rendered hulls in a separate bowl
- Wash your hands.
- With the spatula, press the collected pulp through the strainer to collect any stray juice
- At this point you will have approximately 1 1/2 cups of juice.
- Add the pulp to the rendered hulls and add 2 Cups of warm water
- Squish the pulp with your hands and pour the water and residue through the strainer, pressing down to release any stray juice.
- Wash your hands
- Julienne the collected rind into 1/16″ to 1/8″ slices
- With the cook top on medium high, add the juice and rind to the sauce pan and bring to a boil
- Reduce the heat to medium low and reduce back to 1 1/2 cups
- Scum the juice frequently. (Wipe the scum to wet paper towels and discard when finished)
- When the juice is ready, Add the 5 cups of sugar and return to a light boil
- When the liquid is boiling, lower to low and simmer for 45 minutes – or until there is 2 1/5 cups of liquid in the sauce pan
- Immediately pour the marmalade into sterilized jars and seal
- Allow to cool completely, then make sure the jars are free of any stray marmalade, then store
- Marmalade should keep well for 6 to 8 months.