Candied orange peel, albeit a bit laborious, is perhaps one of the easiest things to make at home. This is especially if you like to bake a lot of fruitcakes/Christmas cakes. While buying most of the dried fruit from the store is inevitable, you can always make other things at home. Candied citrus peel and candied ginger are quite easy to make and worth the effort. There are many other things you can make at home for a fraction of the cost and in the upcoming weeks I will share those recipes with you. I am very tempted to tell you what they are but I will refrain 🙂 Just to keep the suspense!
So, I have been making candied peel since the past few years and I really love the whole process. There is something so Christmassy about oranges even though we tend to enjoy them all through the year. My dad used to bring them especially around Christmas time, along with other treats such as walnuts in their shell and plum cakes. The oranges used to be from Coorg and they had loose skins. I loved them so much that I began to associate them with the holiday season. Today, in Dubai, we get so many varieties all year round that I feel so blessed to be able to taste them all.
So coming back to my story, candied peel can be made with any citrus peel such as lemon (the large, yellow ones, not the small Indian ones), grapefruit and even pomelo. I haven’t tried these variants though but owing to the fact that their skins are varied in terms of the thickness of their skins, it is best to mix them if they are uniformly thick. You don’t want to overcook some of them while leaving the others undone (or bitter!).
You can even dip the peels in melted chocolate and serve them as a treat. They taste delicious! I prefer coating them with sugar instead and keep them for longer as I prepare them for the sake of adding them to my Christmas cakes. I also like to do this ahead of time to avoid the last minute rush. If you want to gift them to someone then it is best to make them a couple of days before you do so, especially if you want to make the chocolate coated ones. I hope you try this recipe. You can add the orange peel to the fruit mix, the recipe of which I have shared just a couple of days ago. You can find it here
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Recipes you can try
A simple and easy recipe to make candied orange (or any other citrus) peel to flavour your fruitcakes. They make for great festive gifts too!
- 2-3 unwaxed oranges with thick skin (Navel or Valencia works best)
- 9 cups water (divided (to boil the peel)
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2/3 cup caster sugar
Wash the oranges thoroughly and cut off the ends. Slice through the skin vertically and peel it off carefully so as to not break the skin in odd shapes. Reserve the fruit for another purpose
Cut the peel into strips of approx 1/2 cm width and transfer into a pan. Pour approx 3 cups or enough water to cover the peels and bring them to a boil. Discard the water after 2-3 minutes and put the pan back on the heat. Add another 3 cups and bring to a boil. Discard. Repeat this for a total of 2 or 3 times to remove the bitterness of the peel. If you like your peel to be a tad bitter, then twice is more than enough. Keep the drained peel aside till required.
To a clean pan add the sugar and the water and bring it to a boil. Then reduce the heat and cook it for 5-7 minutes till it thickens slightly. There is no need to check any string consistency here. We just need to thicken it a bit.
Add the drained peel and cover it with the syrup. Cook on a low heat for 30-35 minutes stirring every now and then, till the peel turns translucent (transparent). The peel should be tender but still have a bite to it (should not turn mushy).
Drain the syrup and remove the peel into a bowl. Then arrange it on a wire rack placed over a tray to collect the dripping syrup. When the excess syrup has dribbed away and the peel has cooled it is ready for the next step.
You can either coat the peel in melted chocolate and arrange them back on the tray to dry or you can coat them with caster sugar. You can leave them uncoated too - in which case, you can store them in the fridge or chop up and use immediately in your fruit cakes or other recipes.
To coat the peel in sugar, place 2/3 cup of caster sugar in a bowl and add the peel to it. Cover it well with the sugar, shake off the excess and place it on the wire rack to dry completely. They will firm up when cooled. It is very important to cool the peels completely or they will turn mouldy. They should also have no sticky residue of the syrup, so ensure that you coat them properly.
Once completely cooled, transfer the peel to an airtight container and use whenever required. They make for delightful festive gifts too.
In this recipe I have used 2 big Navel oranges but you may use whatever is available. Depending on the size of the oranges you can use 2, 3 or 4 for the given quantity of sugar.
You can even use the same recipe to make other kinds of citrus peel such as lemon, grapefruit, pomelo and in India, mausambi (although I have never tried it). Do note that the cooking time may vary, ie to get them to the translucent stage. If you are mixing peels please ensure that you mix only those peels that are more or less uniform in terms of the thickness of the skins as you don't want to overcook some and leave the others undone (and bitter!)
Once the syrup has cooled you can make a drink or repurpose it for something else. The recipe for the drink is on my blog.