As a kid, I had a voracious appetite for, among other things, Nancy Drew mysteries, complex role-playing games (in sixth grade, my friend D’Ann devised a fantastical game for our group where each of us played a different warrior princess complete with our own unique personality [I was the spunky one], wardrobe [I wore all green], and weapon [mine was the rapier]—yes, I’m aware this is sounding suspiciously like LARPing, but our game came before all of that, plus we spent most of our time preening ourselves in our imaginary dressing room as opposed to, say, fighting evil), and candy.
Nothing, however, could’ve compelled me to eat candied orange peels. It was the equivalent of candy for old people, and therefore not sufficiently sweet. I liked greater hits of sugar, super-sugar if you will, the kind found in the cheapest milk chocolate bars, sour strips, and (I’m shuddering thinking about this now) Airheads.
Fast forward fifteen years, and I can’t say I’ve come around much. I actually don’t think I’ve given candied orange peels a single thought until the moment, a few days ago, when I decided I wanted to make panetonne. Which necessitated me making my own candied citrus peels of course.
I wasn’t even planning on sharing this recipe at all, hence no process photos, but it occurred to me you might enjoy candying your own candied peels? Yes? They’re quite good, much fresher than their storebought counterparts. I ended up candying the peels of two navel oranges and a grapefruit, and holy cow, the grapefruit tastes really good! Maybe that was the missing link this entire time.
Anyway, enjoy! If my panetonne goes well, I’ll be sharing it in this space. If not, happy happy holidays and I’ll be back very soon!
CANDIED CITRUS PEELS
Adapted from Remedial Eating (whose recipe is her mother’s!)
Makes quite a lot (enough for panetonne, plus more for snacking, or turning into orangettes!)
2 grapefruits, or 4 navel oranges, or 6 lemons (I hope you get the idea—I settled on 1 grapefruit and 2 oranges. Just be sure to prepare different fruits separately or their tastes will become muddied.)
2 cups water
2 cups sugar, plus more for coating the strips
Peel off the outer layer of the citrus and cut the pieces into thin strips. (You can cut them into thick strips too, but you’ll need to adjust the amount of time they simmer in the sugar water.) I peeled vertically, you can peel horizontally, just cut them into whatever shape you’d like. Slip the peels into a medium pot, cover them with cold water, and bring the water just to a boil on high heat. Drain. Repeat: cover the peels with cold water, bring it to a boil, drain. Repeat once more. Once they’ve cooled a little, use a sharp paring knife or small spoon to remove as much pith as you can. Set aside.
Using a pot that will slightly crowd the peels (I know this goes against conventional wisdom, but I boiled my orange peels in a pot that was too big and the sugar water boiled away quicker than I would’ve liked), add the water and sugar and turn the heat to low. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then add the peels. Let them simmer for about 30 to 60 minutes until the peels are translucent and the syrup thickens. (A thermometer will register the syrup at 220 to 222 degrees F.)
Strain the finished peel and spread it on a single layer on a cooling rack to cool and dry, 1.5 to 2 hours. When it’s no longer wet but still sticky, toss the peels in a bowl of granulated sugar until thoroughly coated. Let dry overnight, then transfer to an airtight jar to store.