Candied citrus peel

Candied citrus peel

By
From
Citrus
Photographer
Mowie Kay

When I was a child I used to plead with my mother not to put candied peel in her fruit cakes, Christmas pudding or mincemeat. I thought the taste was vile and used to spend ages picking every last bit out, as she refused to indulge me. When I started baking myself, I always left it out but soon realised it was necessary for a well-rounded flavour – however, I still couldn’t bear to bite into a piece of it. What to do? Fortunately, I eventually discovered that not all candied peel came ready chopped from the supermarket and that it could be bought in large pieces – or made yourself. This was revelatory as the flavour was so different I found it quite hard to accept that they were ostensibly the same thing.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
4 large citrus fruits
or 6 medium citrus fruits
or small citrus fruits
300g granulated sugar, plus extra for coating (optional)
300ml water

Method

  1. Cut the fruit into quarters, vertically, then peel away the skin from the flesh – or cut it out if you prefer. You should be left with the layer of pith under the skin. If the pith is particularly thick, you can trim it down a little.
  2. Put the peel in a bowl and cover with cold water. Soak for an hour, then drain. Transfer to a saucepan and cover again with cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Drain. Repeat this process twice more for lemons, limes and mandarins, three times for sweet or sour oranges and four times for grapefruit. Do not cut corners here as it is very important for making sure the peel will not be too bitter, especially if you are using white grapefruit. If you want to cut your peel into smaller strips (e.g. for orangettes) this is the time to do it.
  3. Put the sugar and water into a saucepan. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then add all the peel. Simmer gently until the peel is translucent and the syrup has reduced down. At this point the thermometer should read 105–6°C. Transfer the peel from the saucepan using a slotted spoon and lay out on cooling racks. Either put in a very low oven (as low as it will register) with the door slightly ajar, and leave to dry out for an hour or so, or leave out overnight. Coat in sugar if you like and put in an airtight container. If kept in a cool and dark place (or in the refrigerator), it will keep indefinitely.

Note on making peel

  • There are many ways to make candied peel, and whether you leave in wedges or cut into strips is really dependent on what you want to use it for. Unless I am specifically making orangettes (or any other citrusy-ette) which are best cooked in strips, I will usually candy peel in quarters – it is easy to store that way, will keep indefinitely and can be cut to size as you need it. I add it to cakes, mincemeat, stir it through ice cream (candied lemon or orange is wonderful with a ricotta-based ice cream) or simply toss in a little sugar and eat when there is nothing else around I fancy for dessert.

    My method will work well for all citrus with fairly thin or soft skin and pith. Candying citron is a more laborious process and as they are so unbelievably expensive, I think these are best bought ready candied.
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