Sugary strips of winter citrus to sweeten your day.
Citrus season is upon us! Grapefruit, oranges, lemons, limes, pomelos. Bring it on! What exactly is a pomelo anyway? It looks like a lot of skin with small fruit segments. Lots of pith to scrape off that peel .
I make Candied Citrus Peel by boiling strips of peel, with the pith removed, in a sugar-water syrup. You can use the peel from your favorite citrus to make this candy. Oranges and grapefruit are my favorite. They are the easiest to scrape the pith from. I use my lemon shells to make Limoncello.
This is one of the recipes I get the most requests for. I started making this because I have a hard time throwing anything away if there is something I can do with it. A bag of oranges, a sharp knife and a recipe from a Starbucks cookbook was all the inspiration I needed.
The hardest thing about making Candied Citrus Peel is removing the pith-the white flesh on the inside of the peel that is bitter, Bitter, BITTER. You want to get off as much as possible. Scraping off the pith before it dries out and a knife with a long thin blade that feels comfortable in your hand is key to removing the bitter stuff and for avoiding scraped knuckles and a sore hand. I scrape my peels right after I eat the piece of fruit, slice them into thin strips and then freeze until I get enough for a batch.
You will want to make this on a day when you plan on hanging out at home. It takes a few hours for the sugar to crystallize on the peel. It is amazing to watch it transform from soft, pliable, inedible peel to sugary coated strips that harden to tart citrus deliciousness.
Wondering what to do with all that candied peel? No worries. Once you start eating, it is hard to stop. After I bring some to work and give some away to friends and family, I have just enough left to make Sunshine Scones. And an added bonus, when the tin is empty you will have lots of citrus flavored sugar left to add to a cup of tea or your breakfast cereal. At my fantasy restaurant this is what I present to the guests at the conclusion of their meal. My signature item. People will rave, you can count on it!
- 4 cups tightly packed strips of citrus peel, pith removed
- 4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups water
- 2-inch piece of vanilla bean
- Put the citrus strips in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and let boil for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain the peel in a colander. Repeat the boiling and draining two more times.
- Put the 4 cups sugar, 2 cups water and vanilla bean in the saucepan. Bring it to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the citrus peel strips, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the syrup has dissolved, stirring regularly. When it is close to done, a white, sugary coating will appear on the peel.
- When the syrup has completely dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and dump the contents on a wire rack to cool, spreading out as much as possible. Let cool. As they harden, you will want to separate them several times to keep from developing large clumps of peel.
- I like to start with peel that has already been scraped and cut into strips. When I eat a piece of fruit I remove the pith right away and cut in into strips. Then it goes into the freezer until I get enough to make a batch.
- The peel is easiest to scrape when it is in larger sections. I always cut my fruit instead of peeling by hand. Oranges get cut into 4 sections and grapefruit in half to eat, and then into fourths to remove the pith. The peel will lay flatter on the cutting board and be easier to manage at this size.
- You want to use a knife with a long, thin blade that is comfortable in your hand to prevent hand fatigue and soreness.
- DO NOT CHEAT ON THE BOILING. This is the most important step. If the bitterness does not get boiled away, your peel will be inedible, even with its sugary coating.
- Dissolving the syrup can be a long process. It usually takes about 2 1/2 hours for the sides of the pan and the peel start to develop its sugary coating.
- Put a cookie sheet or cutting mat underneath the wire rack when the peel is cooling. Stuff is going to fall through and this makes for easier clean up.
- I put the piece of vanilla bean into my bottle of homemade vanilla extract when finished.
- Store the peel in an airtight container.
- Makes about 4 cups.
What is your signature dish? The one thing people can count on you to make year after year?
As always, thanks for stopping by, and please visit often.