Homemade candied orange peel is a very easy to make pantry item, that can be made in advance and have at the ready in your cupboard. It is a great ingredient to use in baking and candy making, adding a wonderful sweet touch of citrus flavor. In Belgium, I had it served along side my morning cup of coffee. Oranges (navel, blood), tangerines, tangelos, Kumquat, lemons, citron and limes can all have their peel candied. If you find yourself with an abundance of citrus, and you are just using the juice for a recipe, first remove the zest, before cutting the fruit.
A special piece of equipment will make your finished citrus peel look more uniform and a great addition to a home bar (and to up your garnish game) is a channel knife. This cooking utensil is has a ‘V’ shaped blade that cuts the citrus into strips. While not necessary, it does make fast work of just getting the orange peel, leaving most of the bitter white pith of the peel behind.
One of the reasons why this recipe works so well, is to blanch the peel several times, before candying the it. This process will remove some of the bitterness that the white pith contains, making the citrus oils pop, when later candied in a simple syrup solution. Remember to save the syrup when done. Place it into a jar and serve alongside pancakes | waffles | aebleskiver , use in Cocktail or add to whipping cream as a sweetener | flavoring.
What to do with Homemade Candied Orange Peel? Try adding it to scones, muffins, cakes, breads (including my Noel Bread), cinnamon rolls, to Pancakes, my Liege Style Belgian Waffle to ice cream just as it sets (or use as a topper for an incredible sundae), to coat in dark chocolate and have as an afternoon snack. This shelf stable ingredient can be chopped and mixed into soften cream cheese to make an incredible smear. Or add to your breakfast yogurt bowl for that extra pop and vitamin C boost.
Begin by first washing the oranges, removing any residue, especially if your using store bought citrus verses your back yard tree. Dry the oranges and have at a work space, with a medium size pot, a channel knife and some patients. Its time to get zen.
Place the channel knife at the 'north' pole of the orange, and pressing down on the channel knife, make a straight strip down the 'south' pole of the orange. The channel knife does a great job at getting mostly the zest of bright orange part of the peel. The white pith part is what makes orange marmalade bitter. Place the matchstick of peel into the pot.
Repeat this cut, as close to the first cut as possible, to get as much of the orange zest as possible. these matchstick pieces of orange peel will yield a great final product.
Now repeat this same process on the remaining oranges. Like I said in the beginning, find your center and get zen! The results are worth it.
Blanching the Peels:
Take the pot full of cut orange peel and add about a cup of water, enough to cover the oranges completely. Place over high heat and bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, strain the orange peel and discard the water. This process will help remove the bitterness of the remaining pith and poach the peel. Re-fill the pot with water and repeat this process again.
Candied Orange Peel:
Add three cups of water to the blanched orange peels and add the 3 cups of sugar. Now bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Adjust the heat to create low simmer and let the orange peels candy.
Depending on the size of orange peel and how many you are doing this may take 30 - 45 minutes. The peel will be tender, soft and almost transparent looking when done. Using a strainer, remove the orange peel to a sheet tray lined with a cooling rack. Using tweezers or chopsticks, arrange the peels over the cooling rack so that they aren't touching each other. Try to make them straight, as the cool they will harden and keep their shape. Let the peels cool for an hour.
The remaining orange syrup is a treat in this process. I like to use this in my morning coffee, adding to to whipping cream to get a sweet citrus flavor to the cream, over pancakes or waffles, to in a cocktail. Save this syrup! Pour it into a jar and seal, refrigerating it for up to a month. See the Recipe Variations below to create your own custom citrus spiced syrup.
Sprinkle the cooled and dried orange peel with the casters sugar. Using a flat edged spatula, carefully scrape the peels into a bowl and toss with the remaining sugar until fully coated. This will help prevent them from sticking to one another and help preserve them. Place into a sealable jar, to keep out the humidity, adding in one of those 'do not eat' silicone bead packets isn't a bad idea.
What to do with this Recipe:
These candied orange peels can be packaged and given as a Gift Idea.
Half to 2/3rds of the candied orange peel can be coated in milk or dark chocolate and allowed to cool and set on a piece of parchment paper. These are great with your cup of coffee in the morning, a sweet snack or served with a plate of cookies.
Candied Orange Peel is used in my Noël Bread recipe.
Homemade Candied Orange Peel Recipe Variations:
Replace the orange for other citrus, such as Blood Oranges, Grapefruit, Lemons, Meyer Lemons, slices of Kumquat, Citron, Tangerine, Tangelo, Mandarin Orange, Lime or other citrus variety.
Substitute the regular sugar for another variety, such as palm sugar, turbinado sugar, sugar in the raw, light brown sugar, or honey.
Add some flavorings, like vanilla beans (cut to open the pod and seeds scraped out), spices like mulling spice | chai tea, black tea, other other flavor you think would work well with the citrus you end up using. Use a muslin spice bag, to help prevent any spices or tea leaves sticking to the finished citrus peel.
Try these peels, chopped up into cookies, candied, chocolate truffles, muffins, Pancake or Waffle batters, as they add that citrus bite, while having a candy chew, different than fresh peel.