Sunday, December 19, 2010

Candied citrus peels

Pounds and pounds and pounds AND POUNDS of candied citrus peel! It's delicious! It's gorgeous! It's a big fat pain in the butt! But somehow, it's FUN!

4-6 pieces of citrus fruit with unblemished skins. Go for medium/large pieces of fruit if you can get them. Scrub the skins thoroughly with a little soap. Slice off the top and bottom, enough to expose the fruit inside. Then cut the peels from the fruit, trying to avoid as much pith as possible. Cut the peel into strips. You want about 2-3 cups of strips. Use more fruit, if you have to.

Blanch (you need: a big pot and lots of water):
Bring a pot of water to boiling. Drop in the strips; boil for 10 minutes, then drain. Refill the pot and repeat the process at least three more times. After the third time, taste one strip. If it's bitter, you need to blanch again. Keep blanching and draining until there's no (or very little) bitterness. (Time saver: keep a kettle of boiling water on a back burner. When you drain the peels, put them back in the pot, pour boiling water over, and voila - you don't have to waste time reheating another pot of water.)

Candy (you need: 3 cups EACH water and sugar):
When your peel is no longer bitter, drain it well. Combine and stir water and sugar over high heat until sugar is dissolved, then add strips. Bring to a full boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30-60 minutes, or until peels are translucent and candied-looking. Drain candy very well, then spread on waxed paper to dry overnight.

Sugar (the next day):
Place about 1 cup sugar in a plastic ziploc bag. Drop in half of your candy. Close the bag, leaving lots of air in the bag, and shake the CRAP out of it because your candies will want to stick together. Then remove from the bag and allow to dry on racks for at least one day and up to two days.

Note: I made orange, lemon, grapefruit and tangerine peels (gotta love Florida - cheap citrus). Interestingly, the toughest, most bitter peels were the orange peels. They required SEVEN blanchings to get rid of the bitterness. The grapefruit and tangerine, however, only required three. Go figure.

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