Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cooking post: Candied Orange Peel

It is late winter, which in Phoenix, AZ means it is citrus season. We have an orange tree in the back yard, and each year at this time it is loaded with juicy goodness--usually more than we can eat! (Citrus is Arizona's equivalent to zucchini in the Midwest USA. If you're not careful, folks will play ding-dong-ditch with baskets full of the stuff!)

So for lunch today, I served my kids fresh squeezed orange juice off of our tree. Then, instead of throwing the peels away, I decided to give my mom's recipe for Candied Orange Peel a try.

Candied Orange Peel

8 oranges (or 14 lemons)
4 cups sugar, divided
1 cup water

After juicing the oranges, cut the peel into sections and remove the remaining pulp.

Place the peels in a 4-6 qt pot, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, uncovered, then simmer for 10 minutes.

Drain, and allow to cool.

Using a spoon, scrape the white pith from the colored part of the peel.

This takes awhile. No, really.

I suggest press-ganging random teenagers to help you out.

(I understand there is a recipe that blanches the peels several times to remove the bitterness, and skips this step. I'm going to try that one next.)

Discard the pith, and slice the peel into 1/4" strips.

Return saucepan to heat, and add 2 cups sugar and 1 cup water. Heat to dissolve sugar.

Add peel, and simmer gently, 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove peel and drain on fine mesh cooling rack, with a pan underneath to catch the drips. Spread the peel out so it will dry evenly. Allow to cool and dry 1 hour.

Do save the orange flavored syrup for later use. It is nummy on pancakes! Mom also uses it in BBQ sauce, or brushed on pineapple and ham slices before grilling.

Place the peel in a large bowl, and toss with the remaining 2 cups of sugar, until evenly coated.

Take peel out of bowl, letting the excess sugar sift through your fingers. Place sugar-coated peel on a cookie sheet, and allow to dry overnight. Store in an air-tight container.

Save the left over sugar. It is also subtly orange flavored at this point. You can use it for your next batch of peel, or sprinkle it on french toast. (I'm going to use it in tea, myself.)

The finished candy! Slightly bitter, very sweet, and altogether addicting. This is my first attempt, and I'm really pleased with the way it turned out. Now I know what to make if someone sneaks bushel baskets of citrus onto my front porch in the middle of the night! Yum.


  1. When I used to make this, I didn't pith the peel. Instead I boiled it thrice x 30 minutes, changing the water each time. That removes the bitter oils pretty thoroughly, and your finished product will also be more chewy than crunchy.

    If you don't have a separate use for the juice, include it as part of the liquid in the sugaring stage.

    Further experimentation indicated that lemon and lime peels also work well with this method; tangerine less so (not enough pith, comes out too crunchy); grapefruit was a disaster (too much pith -- your recipe above might have worked better).

  2. Thank you so much! With as much lemon as gets passed around at this time of year, I think I'm going to have to try candied lemon peels next. And boiling it sounds much easier than scraping pith, even if it ends up taking about the same amount of time over all.

    Maybe I should plant a lemon tree...

  3. Your candied orange peels looks so yummy!!!!!!

  4. I have to try this recipe. I like all the pictures and clear directions. Thank you for sharing... :o)

  5. Thanks for dropping in, Ana!

    And....the orange peel candy is all gone. The kids devoured the last of it this afternoon. Time to make another batch!

  6. I made it for the first time yesterday trying the leaving the pith in and boiling three times. It tastes like the old school orange gummi slices! On the downside it takes quite a bit longer to dry but is still yummy! Gonna test it on my lab tomorrow during a talk.