Candied Citrus Peel

If I were to hand you an orange, what would you do, assuming that you like oranges?  You'd first peel the orange, toss the peel then eat the juicy insides.  Candied orange peels have you do the opposite:   eat the peel and toss the insides.

Scroll down and read the instructions ... you will notice that I leave the pith attached.  "Wait!" you say, horrified!  "Won't that make for a bitter candy?"   In a word, no.  All that blanching removes any trace of bitterness.   Leaving the pith on allows the candy to be a little thicker and plumper.  Plus you save oodles of time not having to scrape off pith that stubbornly adheres to the peel, even when using a veggie peeler to lightly shave the fruit, which I don't use here anyway because I usually wind up shaving off some of my skin in the process.  A sharp knife, used properly, makes straighter cuts and  gives you more professional-looking results as a bonus.

If you are worried about possible dyes present in the peels, look for organic citrus fruit.

A few years back I noticed that other candied peel recipes popping up suddenly included corn syrup as an ingredient.  Upon further internet surfing investigation, I found two main explanations (not including "because that's the way my mother did it").  The first was that the introduction of corn syrup to the sugar solution helps prevent the sugar from crystallizing.   This didn't really impress me because in all the years I have been making candies I haven't had an issue with crystallization (except the time I tried to make rock sugar; it refused to have anything to do with crystallization so all I had after several weeks was icky-sticky sugar water).  But the second reason (from David Lebowitz, in case you wee wondering) was more interesting -- candied peel made with corn syrup is moister.  Any confection tip suggested by David is gospel in my book.

Ya  know, he was right!  These peels are even more appealing!  So after further recipe tweakification, I now give you the even more perfect peel!

Candied Citrus Peel
Yield: approx. 2 1/2 to 3 cups

4 oranges and/or grapefruits, as blemish-free as possible
11 cups water, divided
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar (or more if necessary), divided
1/4 cup light corn syrup

Remove peel from citrus fruit:  Cut off tops and bottoms from each fruit just down to the flesh and discard.  Using a sharp knife, score peel 6-10 lines top to bottom, almost to the flesh.  Run thumb under peel to gently loosen and separate peel segments (along with any pith that remains attached to it) from flesh.  Reserve fruit for use at another time.  Use sharp knife to cut each peel segment into thin strips.  Set aside.

In a 2-quart saucepan, heat 3 cups of water until boiling over high heat.  Add peel strips.  Return to boil, then reduce heat; simmer for 10 minutes.  Drain, then repeat 2 more times with fresh water each time.  Set cooked peel aside.

Combine remaining 2 cups water with 1 1/2 cups of sugar and all of corn syrup in same saucepan.  Heat to boiling over high heat, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved.  Meanwhile, set a cooling rack over a rimmed cookie sheet as set aside.

Stir in cooked peel.  Reduce heat; simmer for 30 minutes.  Drain; reserve syrup for use another time.  Arrange peel in a single layer on prepared cooling rack.  Let peel dry 12-24 hours, or until peel has dried but still tacky to the touch.

Pour half of remaining sugar into a gallon-size freezer bag.  Add peel; pour in remaining sugar.  Close bag securely and gently turn over a few times until peel is completely coated with sugar (hint: some sugar should line the bottom of the bag.  If not, add more sugar, a quarter-cup at a time, and continue to turn bag over a few times; repeat until peel is completely coated).

Store, along with the excess sugar, in a tightly sealed freezer bag or any air-tight container at room temperature for up to a month.  Optionally package peel in treat bags or boxes for gift-giving.


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