This weekend project showcases the star of the winter season: citrus! Strips of succulent citrus peel are candied in syrup, then rolled in superfine sugar. Sweet and tangy, they make a perfect gift (after all, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be all about chocolate). Use any type of citrus peel you like or use a mix, as we do here.
Candied Citrus Peel
2 oranges, blood oranges or tangerines
3 1/2 cups (1 1/2 lb./750 g.) superfine sugar
Scrub the fruit thoroughly under cold running water to remove any dirt and wax. Working with 1 piece of fruit at a time, cut a thin slice from the blossom and stem ends. Working from the top to the bottom, score through the outer peel and white pith to the flesh, spacing the cuts about 1 inch (2.5 cm.) apart. Peel the fruit. Cut each peel section lengthwise into long strips about 1/4 inch (6 mm.) wide. (Reserve the flesh for another use.)
In a large nonreactive saucepan, combine the peels with water to cover by 2 inches (5 cm.) Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, until the peels begin to soften, 40-45 minutes. Drain.
In the same saucepan over medium-high heat, combine 1 1/2 cups (10 oz./310 g.) of the sugar and 2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml.) water. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the peels, reduce the heat to low, and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat to prevent scorching, until the peels are translucent and have absorbed most of the syrup, about 30 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peels to paper towels to drain.
Place the remaining 2 cups (14 oz./440 g.) sugar on a baking sheet. Working in batches, toss the peels in the sugar. Transfer the peels to a sheet of waxed paper, spacing them so they do not touch. Let the candied peels dry for 1-2 hours. Store in layers, separated by waxed paper, in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month. Makes about 1 1/4 cups (7 1/2 oz./235 g.).
Citrus to try
You can vary the flavors of your candied peel by using almost any type of citrus fruit, from ordinary to exotic. Stick with the delicious basics called for here, or seek out more unusual, aromatic fruits such as bergamot oranges, citrons, mandarins or Meyer lemons.
Candied citrus peel makes a tangy topping for ice cream or a pretty garnish for a cake. You can add chopped candied peel to cake batter or to scone or cookie dough. To dress up candied grapefruit or orange peel, dip each piece into melted bittersweet chocolate and place on wire racks until the chocolate sets. Serve over ice cream or as a nibble at a cocktail party.
Make it a gift
Sparkling and sweet, candied citrus peel is a festive gift. Layer slices of the candied peel with waxed paper in a glass jar or metal tin or canister. Tie with decorative ribbon and a personal note.
Find more recipes to put up the season’s bounty in our book The Art of Preserving, by Lisa Atwood, Rebecca Courchesne & Rick Field.