August 22, 2011
Summer Sangria, Part II: Leave the Skin on the Fruit
By David Draper
It’s not every day I get an “atta boy” from my editors for a blog post, especially one where I poke fun at their delicate, citified sensibilities, but last week’s sangria post seems to have struck a chord. Even a few readers chimed in, giving me the kind of warm fuzzies I normally only feel after a few pint jars of the fruity, fizzy cocktail.
In addition to the compliments, there was also a good question from Wild Chef reader nuclear_fisher:
David, if you revisit this post today I've got a question for you. We did make this last night and the girlfriend and I got into a debate about whether or not to leave the skin on the fruit. I felt we should have peeled them to get more flavor out but she was insistent that they should not be peeled because it looks better. Either way it was pretty good, but what do you do skin on or off?
The easy answer can be read between the lines of fluckeye’s comment: Sangria makes my wife happy, which makes my life easier. In other words, nuclear_fisher, your girlfriend is right. All joking aside, the question got me thinking. Personally, I leave the skin on, although I don’t have a good reason why other than it’s easier. After a bit of research, including an informal poll among the bartenders at my old college haunts in Lincoln, Neb., (Most of who said, “Man up and drink a beer.”), leaving the skin on seems to be the consensus.
From a flavor standpoint, the argument could be made either way. Leaving the skin on adds that citrusy bite from the oils in the lemon, lime, and orange peels. Removing them makes it easier and less messy to eat the fruit. There is some validation to the thought that the white pith could add an unwanted bitterness, but I think it would take a few days for that to really emerge and, frankly, sangria doesn’t last that long around my house.
There is a compromise, however. If you want to peel your citrus—either for ease of eating or if you plan on keeping it in the fridge for a few days—zest it first and add the shavings to the pitcher with the meat of the fruit to get the best of both worlds.