Candied citrus peel I an essential ingredient in many fruitcakes as well as being used in other deserts and baking products. It’s very easy to make at home and well worth doing as home-made candied citrus peel is immeasurably better than shop bought product.
What peel to use for candied peel?
The most popular and most useful is orange peel, although lemon peel, tangerine peel and grapefruit peel can also be used. It’s better to make each of theme separately and combine when baking or cooking.
How to prepare the peel?
Wash the peel well, ideally in hot water. It’s better to used unwaxed fruit, but not necessary – you can still make good candied peel from waxed fruit. Wait until you have about 200g of peel – if you don’t eat that many oranges, freeze the peel until you have enough.
Remove the pith (the stringy white stuff on the inside) from the peel. You don’t need to remove all of it, as the soaking and pre-boiling process will remove most of the bitterness associated with the pith, but it will store better if some of the pith – the most fluffy part – is removed. Use a sharp paring knife to remove the pith.
Soak it in cold water for several hours or overnight (it won’t hurt to change water at least once). This will remove part of the bitterness.
Boil the peel in water (fresh water, not the soaking water) for approximately 20 minutes. Drain on a colander or sieve and cool.
How to candy the peel?
Prepare a syrup for the candying process itself. Use 100g of sugar in roughly 200ml of water (the exact quantities are not crucial, but you need a good amount of sugar) and dissolve it slowly in hot water.
Bring the syrup to a rolling boil and drop the peel in, making sure all of the peel is immersed in syrup.
Simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the peel and pith become candied, ie look transparent and infused with syrup.
Fish out with a slotted spoon, drains on a sieve, cool on a plate or a sheet of grease-proof paper.
Keep in sealed jars or boxes. It should keep in a cupboard or a larder, but the best way to keep the candied peel from developing mold is to keep it in the fridge.
You can add flavorings to the syrup, especially for the orange peel: a couple of cloves or a piece of a cinnamon quill, or one piece of lemon peel. Lemon peel has a clean taste and is best candied unflavored.
To use, chop up into small cubes for fruit cakes or mincemeat; cut into shapes for decorating cake tops or other deserts, dip into melted chocolate for a delicious sweet.