I sometimes take things for granted, like thinking that everyone knows how to make their own candied orange peel, and I end up looking smug and foolish. “You make your own peel?” “Yes, don’t you?” Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?. The fact of the matter is, candied orange peel is one of the easiest things you can make. If you google it, you will come up with 170,000 entries! So you can imagine my surprise at the frequency of times that I hear people say that they never have made it, nor do they know how. So, here is to 171,000…
The peel of a citrus fruit is one of its greatest treasures. Lemon,lime, grapefruit and orange zest are key components in many cookie and cake recipes, or add it to rice, or sprinkle it over feta cheese with some olive oil. You get my drift. Yet when we think of the peel, visions of multicolored bits from the inside of old fruitcake come to mind. Please don’t let that ruin it for you. Fresh candied peel is absolutely divine. It has all the brightness of the fruit but none of the bitterness of raw peel. I am laughing to myself as I am writing this and thinking of my dear friend Kathy, who hates anything citrus. She, of course, would not like this, but to rest of the citrus loving world, enjoy.
I must admit, I do not have a measured recipe. We never throw away the peel of a citrus fruit around here, so sometimes I might only be using the peel of one orange, sometimes 3 lemons – whatever – but, there is a basic recipe to always follow.
1. Cut your peel into thin strips
2. Submerge in a pot of cold water.
3. Bring to a boil
4. Strain and repeat steps two and three two more times times. You will have boiled the peel in fresh, cold water a total of three times. Taste a small piece. If it still tastes overly bitter, boil it one more time. A total of three times is usually enough but every once in a while you need to do an extra boil.
5. Put equal amounts fresh water and granulated sugar into your pot. The amount will depend on how much peel you are making. When I make the peel of 2 oranges, I use 1 1/2 c water to 1 1/2 c sugar. You really just want to make sure that the peel is fully submerged. Bring it back up to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 25 minutes. Drain* and lay out your peel in a single layer on a cooling rack to dry. After about 2 hours you can gently toss the pieces in some more granulated sugar, if you wish.
You are now done! At this point you can finely chop the peel for bread or cookies, or dip the slices into bittersweet chocolate as a hostess gift the next time you are invited to someones house for dinner. Or, as a gift to yourself.
* You can save the sugar syrup. Cool it , then store in the fridge and use as a simple syrup for various cocktails.