Candied Citrus Peel

March 9, 2010 at 5:59 pm (Uncategorized) ()

By request, I’m finally getting around to putting this on here.
I was inspired to attempt this, back in January, by a post on Cheap Like Me, celebrating the 12 homemade days of Christmas. I tried following the procedure as outlined there, but hit a couple of snags. When the second batch of peel was put through later, I changed a few things towards the end of the process, and was much happier with the results (as have been the assorted taste-testers).

I happened to have a number of organic oranges, and a few organic lemons on hand, as part of the tail end of my marmalade and other citrus-related products craziness. Any kind of citrus should work, though I would strongly suggest sticking with organic, since this is entirely about the peels. (We juiced the orange themselves and had a lovely time combining them with a little champagne, but that’s another story.)

After the trials, here’s what I wound up deciding was the way it works for me:
Candied Citrus Peel

Oranges and lemons (I used probably around 10 oranges, plus 5-6 good-sized lemons, but this whole thing is very flexible)
Water, lots of
Sugar
Corn syrup (optional)
Some sugar or superfine sugar for coating

Wash the fruit. Score the citrus skin into quarters, and carefully remove from fruit. You may find making a small slice off of the top and bottom makes it easier to get the peel quarters off intact.

Now for the fun part (and for those who have done candied ginger, this should sound vaguely familiar): put peels into a non-reactive saucepan. Cover with water, bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Drain, rinse in cold water, repeat. And again. (3 times total) Put the peel back into the saucepan, cover with water again, and bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and pat dry (carefully – it might be a little squishy at this point). Slice the peel into long strips, about 1/4 inch wide.

This is the point where, if you suddenly realize just how much time this is eating, and that you need to put the rest off for later, you can spread out the peel on toweling for a bit until it’s only just barely damp, then wrap and put in the fridge for up to a few days before continuing.

The original recipe I was following had a set amount of sugar, water, and corn syrup for each ~4 oranges worth of peel, and followed the time-honored “cook until syrup is nearly absorbed, and don’t let it burn!” method. I did that for the first batch (as nearly as I could, given that 4 oranges worth of peel is a pretty inspecific measurement), but it was frustrating, required well over an hour of hovering over the stove (at 2 in the morning, but again, different story), and doing the ginger in extra syrup in between batches had given me ideas.
Instead, I mixed up an abundance of simple syrup, and simply allowed the pieces to simmer in that syrup as it slowly thickened, until I felt the were done – 1 hour, or a bit more, seemed pretty good to me, but I suspect it depends somewhat on the type of citrus in play.

To try and give a better idea, the original recipe was 1 1/2 cups water, 1 1/2 cups sugar, and 6 tbsp corn syrup for that previously mentioned 4 oranges. If i was working with that many oranges worth of peel, I’d up that by at least 50%. Heck, double it if you want the no-burning safety margin. You’ll end up with extra syrup that has an interesting orange flavour to it, but there’s nothing wrong with that. I have plans for using mine as a sweetener, and for cooking, baking, or preserving fruits in later. I also would (and did, in the second batch) cut way back on the corn syrup, or eliminate it altogether. It’s intended to prevent crystalization problems, but if you’re not letting the syrup boil down to nothing, things shouldn’t get out of control on you. Use a tablespoon or two for insurance, if you like.

Anyway, back to actual procedure. Once the peel has cooked in the syrup for roughly an hour – fish out a piece now and then to taste: it’s a great way to learn how the texture changes as the syrup cooks through the peel – lift the peel pieces out of the syrup with forks or a slotted spoon, and spread them onto drying racks or sheets of waxed paper. I once again employed my dehydrator trays, which did a wonderful job. Allow to air dry (or boost with the dehydrator) until the pieces are cooled and only lightly sticky to the touch. Put some wax paper or parchment on a sheet pan, and add some of the sugar/superfine for coating. Add the peel pieces slowly, tossing in the sugar to get a light coat, then spread back out on a drying rack or in the dehydrator.

Allow to air dry for another 6-12 hours. You can go longer, but you might loose the pliability of the candy. Too little drying time could lead to problems in long-term storage.

——————-

These immediately remind people of those “fruit slices” candies you can find at well-stocked candy store, but better, though with fewer flavour options. Personally, I find the candied lemon peel amazing, and plan to make much more of that next year if I can get my mitts on sufficient quantities of organic lemons.

With the amount of fruit I started with, I ended up with somewhere around 4+ pints of candy (there was enough nibbling and such that I really couldn’t be precise, but since I wasn’t precise about measuring or weighing peel to start with, I’ll let my imprecision slide), and nearly a quart of syrup (pulled mostly from the last batch, but I put any leftover syrup/sugar from the first batch into the syrup for the second batch, so they ended up combined).

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