Siew-Chinn’s Candied Citrus Peels
Siew-Chinn would never let a fruit peel go to waste. Fortunately, most citrus peels can be candied and kept in the fridge for a long time for future use.
To prepare, first cut the citrus in half crosswise and juice the fruit with a reamer or juicer, reserving the juice for another use. The peels (or cups) are then blanched by placing in a saucepan with cold water to cover, bringing to a boil, and then simmering 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the water and repeat the blanching as needed until the peels are tender but not mushy. Meyer lemons need to be blanched 2 times. Most oranges (any type, including Mandarins or tangerines) need to be blanched 3 or 4 times until tender. Grapefruit peels are the most bitter of all the citrus peels, hence they must be blanched 5 or 6 times.
When the peels are tender, drain completely and let cool. Then scoop out most of the white inner pith with a spoon, leaving a thin layer of pith to absorb the sugar in the syrup. This is what makes the resulting candied peels soft and delicious!
At this point the peels can be refrigerated or candied whole or cut into long strips (⅛-inch to ¼-inch in width). Start by mixing 2 parts sugar to 1 part water in a large saucepan, bringing to a boil, and cooking until the sugar is completely dissolved. (You’ll need enough of this syrup to cover the peels when you add them to the saucepan.) Add peels to syrup, return to a boil, and then reduce heat to a low simmer. Place a sheet of parchment on the top of the mixture and put a plate on top of the parchment to weigh down the peels. Cook until peels are translucent. The cooking time varies depending on the peels but the goal is to check the peel occasionally to make sure it is tender. Properly candied peels should be translucent and syrup should be straw golden in color and not caramelized.
Remove candied peels from syrup and place them on a wire rack with a sheet pan underneath. Let them air dry for a day or two. (Drying time will depend on the weather and temperature.) Properly dried peels should feel a bit sticky but not wet or syrupy.
Dredge the dried candied peels in a bowl of sugar to coat generously. (Be sure every nook and cranny is fully coated with sugar.) Store in an airtight container or zip-lock bag in the fridge for later use.
Suggestions for use:
Serve alone as after-dinner candy!
Affogato: Put a scoop of vanilla ice cream in a coffee cup and pour some espresso over it. Sprinkle with a spoonful of chopped candied peels. Serve with plain or chocolate-coated candied orange peel biscotti (see recipe here).
Add pieces of candied peel to your favorite tart or pie recipe.