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for the love of candied citrus peel


Candying citrus peel – those slim tart, sweet chewy delights – takes three or four or more days. I’m sure there are other recipes that might speed up the process, and I’ve tried a lot of them, but to really do it right, it takes awhile. I realize some of you have turned away already, but stick with me, because this is the perfect holiday treat to make during the week. It’s a few minutes here and there. That’s it.

I bought a giant bag of organic pink grapefruit with the intention of candying strips of peel, then dipping some of them in bittersweet chocolate. These treats are fabulous at the end of a dinner party or mid-afternoon with an espresso. Chopped up, candied citrus rind is a wonderful addition to biscotti, muffins or coffee cake. Try it stirred into yogurt or sprinkled over ice cream. Anytime a recipe calls for candied ginger, why not substitute candied lemon peel or orange rind. My personal favorite has always been grapefruit. Until yesterday, that is.

That’s when I candied Meyer Lemon peel, and cut it into larger triangles, as an experiment. It’s pretty and tastes delicious – sweetly floral.

I love the fact that this big effort make enough candy to last through the holiday and on to Valentine’s Day. Citrus peel has a very long shelf life, which is why I make it first when I set out to make my holiday sweets.

This recipe will candy the following quantities. I usually double it.

3 ruby grapefruit
OR 6 lemons or Meyer lemons
OR 4 navel oranges

Start by washing your citrus really well. Cut the ends off, quarter and peel, leaving pith behind. Slice the peel into triangles or strips. Make the pieces the same size/shape so they will cook evenly.

In a large pot, cover the peel with cold water. Bring to a boil and blanch. Drain in a colander. Repeat this process three times.

After the third time, drain and cover with cold water again, then  simmer the peel for 30-45 minutes, until it is tender. Drain in a colander.

You’ll need a very heavy bottomed pot and a candy thermometer. LeCreuset or a preserving pan. Bring 3 cups of sugar and 3 cups of water to a boil. Bring the syrup to 220°.

Add the peel and cook gently in the syrup for 45 minutes, until it turns translucent.

Turn off the heat and leave the peel for 12 hours, allowing it to absorb the syrup.

Bring the syrup and peel to a boil again, bringing the temperature to 226°. Turn off the heat and leave the peel for another 12 hours, more absorbing.

One more time, bring the syrup and peel to 228°. Turn off the heat and leave it for 12 hours.

Finally, put the pot on the heat and as soon as it’s all melted and liquid, place the pieces of peel on a rack (place this over a baking sheet lined with parchment) and allow the peel to dry for 2-3 days.

And for those of you who wanted a recipe for salted caramels, I couldn’t possibly do a  better job than my friend, Mary Reilly (Food52′s SavoryKitchen and soon to be opening Enzo Restaurant in Newburyport, MA. Check out this video she made with How-To-Heroes.

24 thoughts on “for the love of candied citrus peel”

  1. So, I’m already the favourite daughter-in-law (let’s face it- I’m the only one) but if I made these for my MIL it will notch me up a little on the favourite scale. I agree with you, when something is worth the time and effort, I don’t really have too much trouble doing it. I’ve only seen Meyer lemons once in Nova Scotia and they were atrociously expensive, then again I was pricing for marmalade but I have no trouble sticking to the grapefruit and orange. Do you suppose the peel on clementines are too fragile?

    1. I’ve always assumed the clementine peel would be too fragile, although I recently saw a blog w/clementine peel julienned, candied and perched like a little nest of sweet tasty on top of a dessert – maybe it was flan?

  2. I saw this blog title and admittedly skipped it at first thinking I wouldn’t have time or expertise to do this….but I am glad I changed my mind and read it anyways :) I am now thoroughly excited and itching to give this a try to add to my Christmas goodie bags :)

  3. They turned out gorgeous! I can just taste the meyer lemon from here. Truthfully, though both meyer lemon & grapefruit beat out orange for me, I don’t know if I could pick a favorite of the two.

  4. I’ve been making candied citrus peel for a few years now. Any time I presented it to someone, you’d think I’d given them gold ( especially the Meyer lemon – you are sooo right !). I usually make a gingerbread for Christmas & add candied ginger. This year, I’m going to try the citrus peel.

  5. Completely addictive. I just ate my last bite of the candied Meyer lemon pieces you gave me. I would eat 100 more if they were in front of me. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. They’re really special.

  6. Making it right now to add to my fruitcakes. I’m curious about your copper pot…what type is it and do you like it? I’m looking for a copper preserving pan.

    1. Hi Leslie,
      The copper preserving pan is from Sur La Table. It was expensive, but for jam-making and candy making it’s so perfect, I’m not complaining. And did I mention that it’s just plain gorgeous? Maybe Santa will bring you one.
      Cheers,
      Cathy

  7. Third day, all looks and tastes beautiful. Then I burnt the pot. What a shame.
    I’ll have to start again. I was using clementine peel. Wow, the taste was something else. So beware, never the leave the boiling sugar alone. It takes off fast.

  8. ok I’m on board….heading out to get my supplies as a winter storm might be keeping me indoors and I hate not having something to do. Picking up sugar ice cream cones to dip in chocolate and cover with sprinkles as a container. Thanks for all

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