With the holiday season only weeks away this is the time of year when I find myself making lots of homemade candied orange peel. It’s quite a straightforward process but takes some hours to complete. The final results are so worth the effort… and your home is filled with the warming aromas of the simmering orange peel while cooking.
Strips of candied orange peel dipped in melted dark chocolate, then chilled, are irresistibly delicious and make an impressive after dinner sweet treat, which your guests will guiltlessly devour… if you’re willing to share them! Candied orange peel can be made weeks in advance and used in sweet bread recipes like this Salted Caramel Focaccia with Rosemary and Vanilla or in cakes, cookies, desserts, ice cream and used for decoration on sweets and cupcakes.
My mother gave me a recipe for a fruit cake a few years back, which I had mis-placed. I am not very organized with keeping recipes that have been scribbled down or cut out and sometimes end up finding them between the pages of books and magazines that have nothing to do with the recipe. So, delighted to finally find that old yellowed piece of paper with the fruit cake recipe, that requires a good quality or homemade candied orange peel as one of the ingredients. I hope to make this fruit cake and include the recipe in a future blog post.
When removing the peel from the orange I prefer keeping most of the pith attached for a more substantial bite and never find it tastes bitter when candied. Also, cutting the peel into large pieces makes them easier to handle. Soaking the peels in bicarbonate of soda and hot water for a short time, then simmering in water before adding any sugar helps tenderize the peels… at least this has been my experience. The left over oranges are chilled and run through a juicer for a creamy orange juice drink which looks more like a smoothie… with the added health benefit of a little white pith.
Homemade Candied Orange Peel
- 5 oranges
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
- 600g granulated sugar
- caster sugar, for coating
How to make: Wash the fruit in warm water. Remove the top and bottom of each orange and cut into the peel with a sharp knife in wide strips, cutting from top to bottom. With the help of your thumb, carefully pull away the peel with pith attached.
Add the bicarbonate of soda to a bowl (large enough to accommodate the orange peel), add some boiling water and stir to dissolve. Toss in the orange peels and pour over more boiling water to cover the peels. Leave the peels to tenderize for 15 minutes. Drain peels and rinse throughly a couple of times.
Place the peels into a large saucepan and add some cold water, enough to cover. Cover with a lid, bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook the peels for about 45 minutes or until tender. During cooking replenish with more boiling water, if needed.
Strain the cooking liquid from the peel and reserve 300ml. Pour the reserved liquid into a saucepan and add the sugar, stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Place over heat and bring to a boil, carefully add the orange peel. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 1 hour or until the peels are slightly translucent. During cooking lift the saucepan and carefully swish the pan around making sure the simmering syrup coats the orange peels a couple of times throughout the cooking process.
Once the peels are tender remove from heat and leave to soak in the syrup for 30 minutes. With the help of two forks lift out the pieces of peel, shaking off excess syrup. Arrange the peels in a single layer on a wire cooling rack (with some baking paper placed underneath) to dry or when slightly tacky to touch. Afterwards, toss a few pieces of peel at a time in some castor sugar, shake off excess sugar and leave to dry on a wire cooling rack for a couple of hours. Store the pieces of candied orange peel in an airtight container in the fridge. Use as required.
Note: Store the left over syrup in a jar and refrigerate. Use this syrup to flavour fruit salads, lemonade and other drinks.