*Make Your Own Candied Citrus Peel*
By: Gottin_Himmel
16 March 2013

You're probably asking yourself why anybody would make his or her own candied citrus peel. After all, you can buy it easily at the supermarket or big-box retailer.

On the other hand, most of the stuff that's commercially available isn't really made from real citrus fruit anymore. Producers often take a shortcut and use less-expensive citron rind to keep the price down and their profit margins up. It might look sort of the same but the flavor just isn't there.

Maybe part of the reason that people say they don't care for fruitcake is because there's fake citrus peel in the ingredients.

We're so accustomed to a plentiful supply of all kind of citrus fruit throughout the year, that we take it for granted. This hasn't always been the case. There was a time, not all that long ago, when oranges were a seasonal treat, a big deal for a kid who found one in a stocking on Christmas morning.

Our food distribution system is balanced on the tines of a fork. An EMP attack, a cyber attack or a coronal mass ejection that hits the Northern Hemisphere at just the right angle could put an end to our access to a lot of common foods.

Why wait until the supermarket shelves are empty to figure out how to use every bit of an orange? Making candied citrus peel takes a little time, but the final product is worth it. It's a brag-worthy accomplishment.

While lemon, orange and grapefruit peel can all be candied, we're going to use oranges for this recipe.

Save your orange peels until you have collected a sizable batch. Cut the peel into strips about 1/4 inches wide. Put them in a zip-top plastic bag and store them in the freezer until you have enough.

Take the orange peel out of the freezer and let it defrost. Once it has thawed, remove as much of the white pith as possible. This cuts down on any bitterness and will save a couple of blanchings.

Put the peel in a saucepan and add enough water to cover it. Then, put the lid on the pan and heat everything just to the boiling point. Pour off the water, add fresh water to cover, and repeat. Do this two or three times. After the final blanching, remove the orange peel from the pan.

Next, you're going to make a simple syrup, one of those handy recipes that you can use for all kinds of dishes. A simple syrup is made by cooking sugar and water together. That's it.

Mix 4 1/2 cups sugar with 1 1/2 cups water in the pan and then simmer them together for about 8 or 9 minutes. If you're fancy, you can use a candy thermometer. When the temperature reaches about 230 degrees Fahrenheit, the sugar-water mixture will form a soft thread.

Take the pan off the burner while you add the blanched orange peel. Put the pan back on the stove and reduce the heat, keeping the syrup simmering.

Cook for about 45 minutes or until the orange peel turns translucent. Don't stir the peel. If you need to move it around in the syrup, just swirl the pan. Stirring might create sugar crystals on the fruit. That's not a disaster, but it kind of ruins the effect.

Once the peel is done cooking, use a slotted spoon to remove the peel to a plate with some sugar on it. Save the syrup for other uses. It is a great sweetener for tea.

Roll the pieces of candied peel in the sugar, and then put them on a waxed paper-covered cookie sheet for about four hours, turning them from time to time. You could use a cake rack if you don't have time to turn the peel. Save the sugar that is left over from coating the peel.

Put the leftover sugar in a jar or tin large enough to hold the peel. Bury the pieces of peel in the sugar, put a lid on the jar, and store it on a pantry shelf.

This stuff is tasty, nothing at all like that fake citron masquerading as orange peel. If you can keep yourself from nibbling it into oblivion, it has several uses.

For baking, take out as much peel as needed for your recipe, shaking and brushing off any excess sugar. Chop it up and add it to the other ingredients.

Even better, stuff a piece of candied peel inside a pitted date and then dip the whole thing in melted chocolate.

When you've used up all the peel, the sugar it has been stored in will be damp and clumpy. Don't throw it away. It's wonderful in a cup of hot tea.

People often think that being frugal is the same thing as being cheap. They are not the same thing. "Frugal" means getting the most out of anything you use citrus peel and sugar, in this case.

Candied lemon peel is made in a similar way. Candied grapefruit peel requires several more blanchings to remove its bitterness. Once that's gone, it makes a sweet treat.


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