Have you ever tasted homemade candied citrus peel? It’s a far cry from any store bought version you may have tried in the past, I assure you.
This recipe for candied orange peel makes for a somewhat lengthy project (it takes 2 weeks total), but there’s very little actual work involved, and the results are SO worth it. I urge you to give it a try before winter’s really over, while you can still find beautiful citrus.
This method for candied peel comes from A Country Cook’s Kitchen, a charming book I picked up a few months ago. The author states that candied peel made this way will last for several months in an airtight container, but I am pretty sure my family will eat through ours long before then.
Though I haven’t tried it, I am pretty sure this method will work for grapefruit peel and lemon peel, as well (I’d use Meyer lemons). You’ll need fewer grapefruits but more lemons if you decide to go either of those routes.
Recipe for Candied Orange Peel
Yield: about 1 pound, 3 ounces
Prep Time: 30 minutes plus standing
Cook Time: 2 hours
Use organic citrus, if you can; otherwise, clean your fruit well with a produce spray designed to remove chemical and pesticide residues. Though there is a fair amount of sugar in this recipe, not that much of it ends up on the orange peels. Make sure to reserve the orange-infused syrup, though: store it in the refrigerator for a week or two and use it to brighten a cocktail, or mix some with seltzer for an orange soda alternative.
*4 unwaxed oranges (I used Cara Cara)
*4 cups water
*3 1/4 cups sugar (I used organic)
*additional sugar, for dredging (optional)
*melted dark chocolate, preferably organic and fair-trade (optional)
Day 1: Cut oranges into quarters and take out the flesh. Place peels in a large pan and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about an hour (you want the peels to get soft, but still retain its shape). Drain the peels (reserve 2 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid) and place in a glass (or other nonmetallic) bowl. Dissolve 2 1/4 cups of the sugar in a pan with the reserved cooking liquid over low heat, then turn up the heat and boil for 1 minute. Pour over the orange peels and let stand, covered, for about 24 hours.
Day 2: Strain the liquid into a pan and add the remaining sugar. Allow the sugar to dissolve in the liquid over low heat, then bring it to a boil as you did the day before. Pour over the peels and allow to stand for another 24 hours.
Day 3. Place peels and syrup in a heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour, until the pith is transparent. Transfer to a bowl and let stand in the liquid, covered, for 4 days.
Day 7: Drain the peels (reserve the orange-infused syrup for use in cocktails and for mixing with seltzer) and leave on a wire rack in a cool, dry place until they're no longer sticky (this will take about 1 week).
Day 14: Cut the peels into strips and dust them with sugar (this works best if they are still slightly tacky). The ends may also be dipped in melted dark chocolate at this point.
The finished orange peels will keep for several months in an air-tight container. They can be nibbled on, or used in recipes.