I’ve got Rose’s recipe (The Cake Bible, p. 342-3), but I wonder if anyone has got some advice to share about making/working with candied citrus zest?
I’m thinking I’ll make both lemon and orange, for various uses in the next few weeks.
Any thoughts? Words of warning?
The only memories I have of doing this were of my mother’s efforts when I was a child. Hers turned out really bitter, but I’m thinking it’s because she might not have removed as much pith as I probably would. (I think she was using grapefruit, FWIW.)
I peel the fruit, with no pith. cut into the desired shapes, or pieces.. I sometimes use one of those rotary type pastry cutters, or pinking shears…
then I boil the peel, three times, draining and changing the water each time… just for about 4-5 minutes each time…
then I cook in syrup, until it’s just about translucent… I lay the pieces out on a cake cooling rack, I have one of the ones with a square grid of wires, not just rows… the next day, I layer the pieces in a container, sugar-peel-sugar-peel, being careful not to overlap… cover, and let dry…
i’ve had great result with this method in various different climates/locations. and have done lemon, and orange…
Just make sure you take the time to remove all the pith and I don’t think you’ll have a bitterness problem. My version is almost identical to Clement’s and I’ve never had an issue with bitterness. I’ve even done lime and Meyer lemon that way.
If you remove the all the pith (white part) you may not even have to boil and drain the peel. I have made some very good candied peel by simply simmering the peel in syrup for about half an hour or so. Then I let it sit overnight in the refrigerator to soak up the syrup, and taste it the next day. Cook it a bit more if it still seems tough, then remove from syrup and dry. (I have one of those flexible plastic cutting boards that’s reserved for working with “sweet” items like this. I often spread the peel out on that to dry. Easy to clean.)
The only peel that was a disaster with this method was lime peel. It’s very, very bitter.
My sweetie and I just bought a box of organic satsuma mandarin oranges. Whenever we eat one, we pop the peel into a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Every few days, I take the peel out, soak it in cold water for about an hour, then scrape or cut off all the pith. I also trim off any bad-looking spots. Then I drain the syrup from the last batch of cooked peel, make a little more syrup if needed, and cook the new peel while the last batch is drying a bit. Once it’s all done, I will just store in it a container in the refrigerator (it would probably keep fine at room temperature, but I’d just hate for it to spoil after all that work.)
Enjoy your home-made candied peel! Have fun trying different varieties of citrus!
I have made candied citrus peel in the past and will be doing so in a few days. I peel the rind off of the fruit and cut it into managable pieces (not the finished size), with the pith intact. I put them into water and boil, changing the water three times. When cool enough to touch I remove the pith, it comes off VERY EASILY by scraping gently with a spoon. Then I slice the pieces into the finished size and boil them in the syrup, then roll in sugar. MMMMmmmm good!
Over the past few days I’ve made batches of both lemon and orange, and learned a few things along the way.
I seem to have had the best results:
a) using a very sharp paring knife to cut the zest away from the whole fruit in strips
b) using that same knife to trim the pith away from the raw zest (holding the zest down on the work surface, holding the knife blade basically parallel to the surface of the table and slicing the pith away). (managed to cut myself only once, and that on the very, very last piece, LOL!)
c) julienning the raw zest, and simmering it 15 minutes, rinsing it and cooking it in simple syrup 15 minutes (a la RLB’s method in The Cake Bible).
I tried some other methods, but this seems to have worked best for me.
My first batch was orange zest, and as some have suggested, I tried that first, I simmered the peel, then trimmed away the pith, then simmered it in syrup. Made the house smell GREAT, but I do think this batch turned out more bitter than the next.
My second was lemon, didn’t seem to make the house smell of anything at all, but the flavor of the end result was less bitter.
I do think the lemons were, overall, of a better quality than the oranges, so I’m intrigued to try the orange peel again, with better quality fruit.
I’m definitely inspired, and will continue experimenting with some of the other ideas here over time, as I need more candied peel.
Thanks again for all the advice and techniques, I do appreciate it.
Anna, thanks for the update! Keep us posted on further results, please.
I find the peeling and de-pithing is by far the most labor-intensive part of the process, and any suggestions for making it go faster are much appreciated.
After my last small batch of satsuma peels, I do have a warning. I put them on to simmer, covered, with syrup, on the very lowest setting on the smallest back burner…and went away and forgot them for an hour and a half. It’s a tribute to how low the simmer setting is on that burner that they weren’t burned when I came back. In fact, they were still quite edible. But, they definitely had lost some of their flavor “zip.” They had become rather bland and sweet, without that bright citrus flavor.
So…don’t overcook the peel, is what I found out.
And, if your sweetie comes and tells you that you MUST come and watch the fourth season Thanksgiving episode of Buffy the Vampire slayer with him…bring along your kitchen timer.
Yes, that’s the one! I particularly like the way Buffy is so distracted by cooking Thanksgiving dinner that she barely is able to pay attention to the Menace of the Week. She wanders around saying things like “I have to baste.”
Perhaps we should start a thread on cooking in movies / TV shows? Other than actual “cooking” shows, that is.