Loads of people object to candied peel. I think this is possibly because they have only had the sticky, cheap, pre-made stuff. After all, many of those people don’t object to zest in a lot of other recipes, so what makes it so different when it has a sugar coating?
To get around this, I make my own. It has the advantage of allowing you to put your favourite citrus fruits in, and to play around a little with the proportions. Any citrus will do, but the commercially available ones are more often mostly lemon, I think. A better balance of lemon and orange, or experimenting with grapefruit, blood oranges, or even the more unusual citrus fruit, such as pomelos should also help turn even the most ardent haters of this little treat.
I made some with orange and lemon, because I like it, and I had quite a few that I was going to use for something else.
Recipe: Candied Peel
Citrus fruits of your choice. Try to get unwaxed if possible.
200 g sugar per 3 fruit
Thoroughly wash and scrub the fruits.
Slice the ends off each fruit, then cut off the peel in wide strips. I find it very easy to do this with a vegetable peeler, but a knife is also fine. This is one recipe where you want to retain the pith, which will help the peel stay juicy.
Put each kind of peel in a separate saucepan, and cover with cold water. Boil the peels until they are soft to the point of a knife. The time this takes for each will vary greatly, which is why it is important to do them in separate pans. This can take up to an hour or even more for some of the tougher peels, whereas something like a clementine will take less than 15 minutes. Do not let the peels dry out, so if you need to, top up with the water from a freshly boiled kettle. Drain all the peels as soon as they are soft.
Make a sugar syrup by dissolving 200 g sugar per 100 ml of water, and multiplying up accordingly. Bring it up to the boil, and carefully add the drained peels. It is important that it covers the peels, so add more syrup if you need to.
Let the peel simmer in the syrup over a low heat, stirring occasionally. When the peel has absorbed almost all of the syrup, then it is done. Towards the end, don’t take your eyes off this, because it can burn, and then tastes really bitter and unpleasant. Err on the side of a bit more syrup in the pan,rather than too little.
Grease a baking sheet or tray, and line it with greaseproof paper. Put the peel on the sheet to dry out. Be careful, they will have scaldingly hot sugar syrup on them. Leave them in a warm place to dry oven the next 3-4 days, and turn them over when you remember them.
They will store well in an airtight container. Cut them into smaller pieces when you need to use them in baking, or as decoration for desserts. You will find that the sugar coating will mostly fall off.