Candied citrus peel is something that seems inessential but once you start having a jar of it in your kitchen, you will wish that you started making these sooner.
While it may seem tedious and time-consuming to make your own candied citrus zest, I think it is well-worth your effort. And I won’t deny that it is indeed time-consuming to make these candied peel though it is not at all difficult.
The possibilities with these candied citrus peels are plenty. They feature on top of my yuzu panna cotta (will post a recipe of that soon), taste fantastic when coated with chocolate, can be used to decorate a citrus loaf cake like the yuzu loaf cake I made and go well with a dark chocolate orange ganache tart. Otherwise, they just taste great on its own and make perfect food gifts.
The recipe involves cutting the peels off the citrus fruits (you can use a mixture of oranges, lemons and grapefruit) and slicing it down to the thickness you like – mine are quite thin which are great for garnishes. If you are intending to dipped the peels in chocolate, you might wish to slice them a little thicker.
Boiling them in water helps to get rid of the bitterness that is in the pith. It is important to do it thrice, do not skip this step. After this step, the citrus peels is cooked in a sugar syrup (granulated sugar and water, in the ratio of 1:1) and lastly, they are dried in the oven using a low temperature before they are tossed in granulated sugar. The whole process takes about 3 hours but there is a lot of downtime so you can probably do this while you prepare other food in the kitchen or while you read a book.
This recipe fills a half pint mason jar. You might wish to double or triple the recipe so you have enough to share some with your friends (or have more for yourself).
Candied citrus peel
Fills a half pint mason jar
Adapted from BBC Good Food magazine, recipe found here
They are perfect when dipped in chocolate, go well with your ice cream, and great make great garnishes for citrus desserts such as citrus panna cotta, chocolate orange tart, lemon cupcakes, just to name a few. Keep a bottle of these in your pantry and you will find plenty of use for it. Feel free to substitute with other citrus fruits.
2 large oranges
1. It is best to use unwaxed citrus fruits. Otherwise, place them in a colander and pour boiling water over them before using a clean brush to scrub, rinse with cold tap water and dry before using.
2. Remove the peel of the citrus fruits, keeping 5 mm thickness of peel and pith. Having pith (white parts), in this case, is good! Store the citrus fruits for other use.
3. Slice the peel to the desired thickness depending on the use of peel. I slice mine quite thinly.
4. Put the peel in a pot of tap water, covering all the peel, and bring to a boil and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
5. Strain the peel and return the peel to the pot, and repeat step 4 for two more times. On the third and final time, allow the water to simmer for 30 minutes.
6. Strain the peel again, this time, reserving the water. Add in 100g of sugar to every 100ml of water you have. Put the peel, water and sugar back into the pot and let it simmer, low heat, for about 30 to 45 minutes, or until the peel is soft and translucent.
7. Remove the pot from heat and allow the peel and syrup to cool. Remove the peel with a slotted spoon and arrange the peel on a baking wire rack set over a tray lined with baking parchment. Place it in the oven at the lowest setting ( I use 60 degrees celcius) for about 40 minutes to dry.
8. Remove the citrus peel and immediately toss them in granulated sugar. Let it cool completely and allow it to air dry for about an hour before storing the candied citrus peel in an air-tight jar.
*Tips for making candied citrus peels:
*It is best to use a thick-base pot if you have one as it distributes heat more evenly and doesn’t burn as quickly.
*Ensure you boil the peels a few times to get rid of the bitterness that is in the pith.
*While simmering the peels in the sugar syrup, you should refrain from stirring the mixture as it may cause the sugar to crystalise. You can swirl the pot every once in a while to allow it to cook more evenly. Check to make sure that the syrup is not all evaporated or the peels will burn.
*Best to allow the peel to dry in a low heat oven in a single layer.
*You should coat the peels in granulated sugar immediately once out of the oven as the sugar wont stick on them when they are completely dry.
*Storage tip: Store cooled and dried candied citrus peel in mason jars for up to 3-4 weeks in a cool, dry place.