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Searching for Old-Fashioned Tapioca

January 29, 1987|JOAN DRAKE | Times Staff Writer

Question: Where can I buy old-fashioned pearl tapioca--the kind that requires soaking in milk overnight and cooking in a double boiler? None of the local stores stock it.

Answer: Your best bet is to try either health food stores or Chinese markets. Mrs. Gooch's and Quinn's health food stores both tell us they carry different sizes of the product in their stores. Yee Sing Chong in Chinatown stocks both small and large varieties of pearl tapioca.

Q: For some years now I have been making fruitcakes around the holidays. Each year I think about making my own candied fruit for these recipes, but I've never been able to locate a recipe that provides the technique for making the fruit at home. While still thinking about it, I decided to write and see if you could provide a list of those fruits that may be candied and the method used.

A: "Better Than Store-Bought" (Harper & Row: 1979) by Helen Witty and Elizabeth Schneider Colchie contains the following recipe for candied cherries. The authors say the resulting cherries "are a natural garnet color, not the brilliant artificial cerise or crimson shade of the commercial product. They keep well--they're neither syrupy nor stick--and can be used to enliven fruited cakes or puddings." The book also contains recipes for candied pear slices, pineapple and lemon, orange or grapefruit peel.

CANDIED CHERRIES

1 cup cherries

2 cups sugar

1/3 cup light corn syrup

Stem and pit cherries. Place in single layer in shallow stainless steel or enameled skillet. Add water just to cover and simmer until fruit is barely tender. Drain thoroughly, reserving cooking liquid.

Rinse and dry skillet. Place 1 cup reserved cooking liquid, sugar and corn syrup in skillet and bring to boil. Boil, covered, 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover, add drained cherries and simmer gently, turning cherries a few at time with large spoon, just until fruit becomes translucent.

Shake pan occasionally as cherries cool, then cover. Let cherries stand in syrup up to 12 hours or overnight so syrup permeates fruit.

Bring cherries to full boil and cook about 3 minutes, shaking pan back and forth constantly, until syrup is thick.

Cover large cooling rack with cheesecloth. Lift cherries from syrup with fork and place, well apart, on rack to drain several hours or until cherries look slightly dry. Store at room temperature in sterilized jar with sterilized, airtight lid. Cherries will keep at least 6 months. Makes 1 cup cherries.

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