Candy made from orange or other citrus peel is a wonderfully traditional sweet and known by pretty much all the cuisines of the Mediterranean as well as the Persian cuisine. A number of different variations exist, the – presumably – most common is cooking the orange peel in syrup and then drying it for a couple of hours to one day, and it may include rolling the strips of peel in sugar or covering them with chocolate. Other recipes suggest preserving the orange peel in the syrup. For the innovative chef, there are basically no limits to introducing further flavors such as rose water, ginger or cinnamon (to name only the most obvious ones) and to creating new mixes.
Candied orange peel is not only delicious as a candy served, for example, with tea, but I also make ample use of it in baking and dessert making either as ingredient or decoration. I generally make small batches at a time only as the candied orange peel may keep for several weeks, but not forever. So I never end up with having to think too hard about what to do with the excess oranges. However, if you wish to make larger batches, you may collect the orange peel whenever you are making use of oranges and keep it in the refrigerator or freezer until you have a large enough amount of orange peel.
- 2 large thick-skinned oranges (e.g. Navel)
- 400 grams of sugar
- 400 to 500 ml of water
- juice of 1 lime
- optional: 3 to 4 tablespoons of very finely granulated sugar
- optional: 50 to 70 grams of dark couverture chocolate
- Wash and scrub the oranges. Peel them, leaving the pith on them. I recommend you peel the oranges making use of a sharp knife to make several cuts through the skin running from top to bottom and then peel off the segments with our hands. Do not cut the orange peel off, you will end up with irregular pieces and you will run danger to either cut away the pith or cut off the flesh of the fruit which you do not want.
- Set the fruit aside for later use (or enjoy it immediately). Cut the orange peels into thin slices (approximately 3 to 5 mm). If you intend to use the candied orange peel for a specific purpose (like decorating a cake) you may wish to adapt the size of the cuts to the intended use and look.
- Place the orange eel slices in a large saucepan or frying pan, cover completely with water and bring to the boil. Boil for approximately 10 minutes, then drain in a colander, discarding the water. Repeat this step 3 times. Note that this step is important to remove the bitterness from the orange peel. In case you are using a very bitter orange, you may have to repeat this step more than 3 times.
- Place the orange peels back into the saucepan of frying pan. Add the water and the sugar. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hour. The syrup should have thickened notably by the end of the simmering time while still being liquid enough to move around easily in the pan.
- Add the lime juice and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes.
- Line a baking tray with aluminum foil or baking paper. Place an oven grid on top. Remove the orange peel slices one by one from the syrup with kitchen tongs and place them on the grid leaving some space between the individual slices. Keep the syrup.
- Allow to dry for a couple of hours up to 1 day. In order to speed up the drying process, I place the tray and grid in the oven, letting the fan run without turning on the heat. Only choose this option if your oven offers the same function, the oven should by no means be heated up (be it ever so slightly).
- Store the candied orange peel in an air-tight container. Keep at a cool spot, but do not refrigerate in order to prevent the sugar from crystallizing. It will keep for a couple of weeks.
- Optionally, before storing them (1) roll the candied orange peel pieces in (very) finely granulated sugar, or (2) melt the couverture over a hot water bath (do not let it get too hot), dip the orange peel pieces into the molten couverture to half-coat them, place on a grid, and allow the chocolate to harden.
Making use of the syrup:
Keep the syrup separately – it has a wonderful bitter-sweet aroma and can have all kinds of use ranging from drizzling it over waffles or pancakes to making cocktails. First, you should pass it through a fine sieve, though, to filter out the sugar crystals. Another suggestion how to use it: Mix the syrup with rum or amaretto (one half syrup and one half liquor), fill into a small container like a preserving glass (to half), and add rock sugar to it (wait for the syrup to cool completely before this step!). Use for sweetening your tea. – Also makes for a great present!
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