Sunday, December 19, 2010

because it's time...

In wintertime, one of the things that gets made every year here at Acorn Cottage, is candied citrus peel. My father, notoriously difficult to find gifts for, enjoys candied peel, and it is a Useful Ingredient in both holiday baking and garnishing. It is rather time consuming to make, but not at all difficult, requiring only citrus peels (please use organic, as you will be eating the peel), sugar, and water.

To begin with, take the citrus peel and make sure you have scraped away any excess segment membrane from the inside of the peel, more an issue with grapefruit than with orange. I like my candied peel to be thick and juicy, so I do not scrape away all the white part. While the white of the peel can be bitter, the next steps will deal with that.

Cut your peelings into strips about a quarter inch wide. Put into a pan of cold water, bring to a boil, then let sit for at least a half hour. (I sometimes do this before bedtime and just let them sit, in the pan, overnight) Pour off the water and do this at least two more times. This "blanching" can can also be done in a crockpot, by cooking the peels till the water boils, (or overnight) draining off the water and repeating at least twice.
After you have blanched the peel strips, make a simple sugar syrup. It is a good idea to use a pan with a fair bit of height, and a nice hefty bottom; a thin pan might let the syrup burn, and hot sugar syrup boils up quite a bit, so you want some room between the liquid and the top of the pan. I use either a tall Revereware pan or my maslin pan, depending on how much peel is being processed

starting to simmer
Use equal amounts of white sugar and water to make the syrup, judging the amount in proportion to the peelings. You want enough that the peels are covered by liquid, allowing enough to eventually be absorbed as well, it is kind of a judgment call. Better to have too much than not enough, the leftover syrup can be stored in the freezer for future use. Bring the sugar/water mixture to a boil, the sugar will dissolve, making a simple syrup. Add the peel strips and turn the heat down to a very gentle simmer.

further along
The peelings will need to simmer for quite a while, usually an hour or more. They start out being mostly opaque, and gradually become more and more translucent and shiny. At that point, turn off the heat, and prepare for draining and drying the peel. The peel can simply stay in the syrup (refrigerated) till a convenient time for the next step.

fully translucent peel
Set cooling racks on cookie sheets, you will need a place to let them stay overnight. "Spaghetti tongs" are helpful to pick the sticky drippy peel strips out of the syrup and place them carefully on the cooling racks, they should be separated so the excess syrup can drip off and they can start to dry a little.

The next day, the now candied peel can be rolled in granulated or superfine sugar, this will help keep the strips from sticking together, and make them easier to pick up. Cut into cubes, they make a splendid and glittering garnish. (Another further option is to dip the peel strips in melted chocolate for a truly delicious decadent treat.)

The candied peel should keep for at least several weeks without refrigeration, I have mailed it to the East Coast in winter with no difficulty. For longer storage, it can be frozen, but it never lasts that long around here...

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the recipe. This looks fun to try the next time we make orange juice.