Ever since I first tasted candied bergamot peel at June Taylor's still room last year, I have been craving more of this delicious treat. So when I came across a Martha Stewart article on candying citrus peel a few months ago, I clipped it to hold on to until bergamot season rolled around again.
I thought that meyer lemons would also make delicious candied peel since they, too, have a uniquely lovely flower-like taste and smell. Luckily, we have a meyer lemon tree growing right outside our house. Since I had a couple of blood oranges on hand, I decided to throw them into the mix, too. The more candied citrus peel, the merrier, right?
Several hours of slicing, peeling, de-pithing, boiling, simmering and sugaring later, I had a big 'ol batch of mixed candied citrus peels to show for it. And they are damn tasty!!! I also had a pitcher of citrus-ade that I'd made from the peeled fruits (though they are a lot harder to squeeze than they are with the peels still on), and several jars worth of citrus-infused simple syrup.
Besides just eating them like candy, you can also chop them up and sprinkle them on other desserts or drop a few peels in a mug of hot water for a refreshing hot treat. Since they will only keep for a few weeks, and you can/should only eat so much of this decadent little dessert, I recommend giving the rest away as gifts.
One nice bonus to making this delightful treat is that you will also end up with a good deal of citrus-infused simple syrup after you've finished simmering the peels in sugar syrup. Definitely save this as it is a delicious, easy way to sweeten and flavor lemonade, iced tea, and any number of creative cocktails (cosmos, vodka gimlets, etc., etc.) It would also add delightful flavor when poured over some sorbet or ice cream or fruit salad. You could also use it to flavor baked goods -- waffles, cakes, etc.
Although I chose the dry, sugary preparation for my peels, you can also leave them in syrup and skip the draining and sugaring step altogether. I'm sure they are delicious over ice cream, etc.
Special thanks to my friend, Naushon, for her willingness to slice, dice and pose as hand model for these photos.
Candied Citrus Peel
* 6 lemons, 4 oranges, or 3 grapefruits (really you can make as much or as little of any kind of fruit as you like, you'll just have to adjust the sugar syrup amounts accordingly)
* Simple syrup -- 2 cups granulated sugar to 1 1/2 cups water (adjust the amount you make according to how large a batch you are making -- you want enough so that all the peels can be submerged)
* Additional granulated sugar for coating the candied peels
1. Cut the peel into 6-8 sections (trying not to cut into the fruit.)
Gently remove the sections with your fingertips, trying not to rip any of them. Once you're done peeling, remove any excess pith with your paring knife.
2. Bring a couple cups of water to a boil in a pot and add the slices of peel. Simmer for 3-5 minutes, then drain. Repeat two more times.
3. After you've blanched the peel three times, make a sugar syrup by heating the sugar and water in a saucepan until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture has come to a boil. Add the peels and return to a gentle boil, then lower heat to reduce to a simmer. Simmer for roughly 1 hour until the peels are tender and sweet. Cool for a little while, then drain the peels (they may still be extremely hot so be careful.)
4. Remove excess liquid then roll the peels in granulated sugar until they are fully coated. Place them on a wire rack to cool and finish drying (if you don't have a rack, you can also just use a piece of waxed or parchment paper on a baking sheet, instead.)
5. Store them in an airtight container for up to two weeks at room temperature.
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