The elderly oranges in the fruit bowl had to be moved on to allow the new ones to take up residence. It goes against the grain now to just throw stuff out, so although the fruit inside was dried up, the skins themselves were in pretty good order.
I searched ‘orange peel recipes’ and was attracted to one by Mary Cadogan on the BBC Good Food website.
I am amazed how well this turned out. It’s a little time consuming, but you’re not standing over it all the time, and I believe that the results were worth it.
You end up – if you douse it in sugar at the end – with something that tastes amazingly like Fruit Pastilles!
I mean – come on!! – if that’s not enough to give this one a go I don’t know what is!
- A large saucepan
- a rack over a oven-proof tray – I used my grill pan and rack.
- A couple of sheets of baking parchment or greaseproof paper
- A sieve
- a measuring jug
- a pair of food tongs
- An air-tight container
- The peel and pith from as many oranges as you like. I had 4 large oranges which gave me the amount of candied peel that you see in these photographs. Of course you can use any Citrus fruit – lemons, grapefruit, limes – that you like, and mix them too of course. See NOTES 1
- Cold water
- Granulated or Caster Sugar – as usual I used Golden Caster.
- Score the rind of the fruit with a sharp knife, and peel them off, then cut into long strips
- Put all the rind into the saucepan and fill it with cold water.
- Bring the water to the boil, boil briskly for 5 minutes, then drain the fruit through the sieve. Repeat, starting with cold water once more. This bit is important because it takes away the bitter taste from the pith.
- Drain, add cold water again, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes.
- While that’s going on, you can line the baking sheet with baking parchment. Leave to one side.
- After the 30 minutes, drain the water into the measuring jug.
- For every 100mls of water you have, add 100g of sugar, return both to the saucepan and cook gently until the sugar dissolves, stirring often, then return the peel and simmer for another 30 minutes or until the peel is soft – test it with the tip of a sharp knife – I gave mine about 45 minutes, possibly because they were old oranges.
- Drain the peel as soon as its tender, and carefully transfer it to the rack over the lined tray. I definitely recommend using the tongs for this job – it’s a sticky business! Spread them out so they’re not touching each other.
- Heat the oven to 80° Fan or the equivalent and dry the peel in the oven for an hour.
- After the hour is up, the peel will still feel sticky to the touch – that’s normal.
- **Cover lightly and allow the peel to cool completely** Please see NOTES 2 and 3
- If you intend to use any of the candied peel as an ingredient in your Christmas – or anytime – baking, just use it without the sugar coating. Or sugar-coat it all and just rinse off the sugar before adding it to your recipe.
- Add 2-3 tablespoonfuls of caster sugar to the air-tight container. Then add 1/3rd of the peel , and shake gently until you can see that the sugar is coating it. Then add the next third of the peel, shake etc until all the peel is in the container, and covered with sugar.
- If you think you haven’t added enough sugar to properly coat all the peel, just add more. You actually need surprisingly little sugar to cover all the peel.
- Close the lid of the container tightly and give it a few more rotations as you pass by.
The Candied Peel is now ready for use – in cakes or puddings, or as a snack. I found that it hardened up overnight, making it much easier to handle etc.
- Thin-skinned Citrus like mandarins etc would probably not give you the best result, you need that bit of pith to make it delicious.
- Lightly cover the peel with a sheet of baking parchment while it’s cooling to keep dust off.
- Once the peel is completely cool, and before you add it to the sugar, you can cover it partially or fully with the melted chocolate of your choice – see my recipe for Chocolate covered Peel – a huge treat for Christmas or any special occasion:
Candied peel can be chopped up to add to cakes and puddings or offered as a delicious treat after dinner.
They also make a delicious addition to a Christmas or Easter gift assortment of homemade goodies!