Do you like candied orange or lemon peels? I find many don't but personally they are a nice little treat, especially if you like citrus flavors. They also make a nice addition in many recipes for some extra flavor! This time of the year I like to make panettone and one thing I need for it is candied lemon and orange peels, but the ones you get at the store are always sticky and wet and I prefer to use more dry types to get a nice texture in the final product. Along with using a lot of citrus anyways, this is a good way to use thee peels I'd otherwise toss. It may seem hard or scary but honestly it's really easy and just takes a little time. Plus the benefit of having homemade candied peels means you know there's no preservatives in there!
The method I use is one I learned while studying in France. It involves boiling the peels multiple times to remove any remaining bitterness from the pith before boiling in a sugar syrup to candy and get delicious. The first step is getting the peels though, so let's talk about how to prepare them to be candied in the first place.
How to Candy Citrus Peels
So you have some citrus fruits. Any will work so use what you need the juice for or freeze the juice for use later. You can use a knife to get the peels off but I highly advise using a standard Y peeler before cutting the fruit in half and juicing. This why you will get all the peel with little pith still attached.
Next we need to prep the peels and get as much pith off. This with change based on the fruit and even different lemons and oranges will have more or less. I find that most of the time oranges have very little remaining on the peel while lemons and others similar to lemons have the most. To remove
the remaining pith, take a sharp knife and hold it flat on the pith side of the peel on a cutting board. Carefully saw off the pith keeping the knife almost completely flat. It's a bit tricky at first but once you do it a couple times it's a lot easier. It's kind of light scraping the pith off than cutting it off. You will not get 100% of it and that's okay. We will do things to work on that in the next steps. But this will reduce the time of the next step. You want to ideally have it look like the round pores of the peel holding all the oils are peaking through. If it's completely white with pith keep sawing and get more off.
Now that the peels are ready, we can start cooking. First is to cook the peels to remove any bitterness from the remaining pith. Throw all the peels into a small sauce pot and cover with cold water. Place over high heat and bring to a full boil. After it comes to a boil, strain out the peels and dump the water. This water can be used in plants once cooled or outside, so please don't just throw it down the drain. Return the peels to the pot, cover with cold water again. Bring to a boil then dump water. Keep doing this until the white pith is no longer white. It's get a clearness to it. Typically it takes about 5 times to get to this point but if the pith you leave is thick it may take more times. DO NOT CONTINUE UNTIL YOU GET THE BITTERNESS OFF OR THE CANDIED PEELS WILL BE BITTER!!!
Okay, peels are looking good. Pith is gone. Time to candy. Return the peels to the same pot but this time we are going to cover them with a simple syrup. Using equal parts water and granulated sugar. There isn't an exact measurement for this, it's just equal parts to cover the peels. Once covered return to high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat so that the syrup is simmering, cover with a lid, and cook for about an hour. Again this time will be based on the peels and how they look. You want them to cook until the look pretty translucent. They will have color still but will look glossy and almost like stained glass. At this point they are ready to be removed.
Remove the pot from heat and strain out the peels for the final time. At this point the last step is to coat the peels with granulated sugar. This will give them a less sticky feeling and make them look so pretty. Once coated, it's best to let them sit on a pan and air dry for a day before storage or you can use a dehydrator like I did. If you don't have a dehydrator, the lowest setting on your oven should do the trick. I did it for about a day to get them completely dry but you can do 4-8 hours to keep some softness in the peel.
And now they are done! You have candied citrus peels! It's really not that hard just a bit time consuming doing the multiple water boilings. I like to do these when I already have other things to do in the kitchen so it's literally on the back burner as I work. If you dry them a bit they last for awhile in an air tight container. You can make them last longer by dipping in chocolate rather than sugar. Make sure to dry them a little after the syrup so they don't mess up the chocolate, but that makes a nice candy on it's own. I personally eat them because I love the sweet lemon and orange flavors. Either way I high advise make some for yourself this year and maybe try some panettone when I give out my recipe soon!