If you have ever tasted handmade candied citrus peel, you know it is completely different than store bought. It is fresh with a slightly bitter finish which is one of the lovely characteristics of citrus peel. It is addictively delicious plain, dip in dark chocolate for a wonderful contract of flavor or chop it up and use it in quick breads, muffins or savory dishes that pair well with citrus. It is important to use organic citrus for a clean taste and the most alluring aroma that fills the kitchen when blanching the peels. Now, for the recipe: You want about 4 cups of the peels, cut into quarters (or sixths, if using grapefruit) for this recipe. It is also worth noting that purists will candy only one type of peel in the same pot, but for every purist there are happy rule breakers.
Makes 3-4 cups
4 oranges, 2 grapefruit OR 6 to 8 lemons, organic or unsprayed
Place the peels in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan and fill the pan with cold water, leaving just enough space for it to boil. Bring the water to a full rolling boil over medium-high heat then simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the peel and refill the pot with water until covering the peels. Once again, bring to a boil, let simmer for 5 minutes and this time DON’T THROW AWAY THE WATER.
Now, measure the water from the second blanch. For every 100ml (a little less than ½ cup) of water add 100grams (½ cup) of sugar to the pot. Simmer peels in the sugar water mixture for 30 minutes.
Drain peels and put on a baking sheet in a single layer. Turn on oven to lowest setting and put peels in the oven for 30 minutes to dry out a bit. They will still hold some moisture when you take them out. Let cool completely. Dust with sugar and if you want to get fancy, add your favorite spice!
*Blanching rids the fruit of excess harshness and astringency and tenderizes it. With experience, you may decided to increase the number to get the tenderness and flavor that you like. Even fruit of the same variety varies in texture, skin thickness, and bitterness.