I’ve been quietly celebrating a few things this week: Monday, of course, was the Winter solstice; on Tuesday my man returned home to me after several weeks away visiting his family on the other side of the world; and on Wednesday my lovely friend Amy had her birthday… So this mandarin lantern is a warm, glowing, citrus-scented kiss sent out to cosy winter nights in front of the fire, to loving and being loved, and to dear women friends.
Here’s what you need for making a mandarin lantern:
- Mandarins – the loose-skinned variety are the easiest to work with
- A sharp knife
- Cooking oil – I used sunflower oil, but I’m sure you could use whatever oil you have in your kitchen
- And a husky dog with a penchant for fruit (although if you don’t have one of these to hand, you could simply eat the fruit yourself, or perhaps find a willing child to help you)
Start by cutting the mandarin horizontally around the middle about a third to a half of the way down. Try not to cut into the fruit too much, although if you do, it’s not the end of the world (just a little bit messier later on!).
Gently ease your fingers under the rim of the top part of the skin and remove it, being careful not to split the edges (this took me two attempts).
You now want to lift all the segments out from the bottom half of the fruit. I found the knack to doing this is to hold onto the inner corner of each segment and pull outwards. Again, be careful not to tear the peel (and again this took me two attempts!). Note: The internal pithy “stalk” will become your lamp’s wick, so try to leave at least a little stub inside the base of the lamp.
This last step is where your husky-dog-with-a-penchant-for-fruit comes in handy. Our magical, David Bowie-eyed husky-cross dog, Silver loves most fruit and was a devoted helper during this part of the project.
Cut a chimney hole in the top of the lantern as shown. Your lantern is now finished and ready to be filled with oil and lit!
Trim and pinch the central pith bit in the bottom of the lantern so that it resembles a candle wick. Pour a little vegetable oil in and light the wick. It may take a few moments for the oil to be absorbed into the wick so don’t worry if it doesn’t light immediately.
Put the lid on the lantern, place on a plate (I used a vintage Art Deco plate with Chinese lantern fruit on it), and enjoy! As the lantern heats up it releases a delicious, citrus aroma – perfect for dark, wintery nights. I love how each individual skin cell glows. Isn’t it beautiful?
Did you celebrate Midwinter in a special way? Or Midsummer of course, if you’re reading this from the Northern Hemisphere! If you posted about it on your blog, please do put a link in the comments. I loved reading Maya Donenfeld’s Summer solstice post on her blog maya*made.