Candied citrus peel
I love how we pick up certain cultural customs as we grow up. For me Christmas culture is one of them. I love the scent of Christmas trees, decorations, lights and presents. I also love the constant stream of cheesy Christmas songs and look forward to this time of year - especially as December also happens to be my birthday month. Yes I know, I’ve been short-changed! What’s a girl to do but console herself with the art of feasting? Of course nothing beats a fabulous Christmas feast with all the trimmings. It’s that time of year when we all gather around with our loved ones to indulge (or overindulge!) and celebrate. It doesn’t matter what your beliefs happen to be – it’s an amazing holiday.
I live for baking this time of year and candied citrus peel is a staple for Christmas baking. You can add it to mince pies, a huge array of biscuits, Christmas puddings and cakes, stollen (my favourite!) and even for decorating. If you’re not really a baker, I still urge you to make this – even if to just add finishing touches to something someone else has baked – and dare I say it, shop bought goods!
Ingredients (enough candied peel for 2/3 recipes)
2 oranges – naval or valencia
2 lemons or limes
250ml water (plus more for blanching)
500g granulated sugar
Rinse and dry your oranges and limes and cut off the tops and bottoms. Score and lightly cut the skin of the fruits vertically into six segments and carefully remove the peel from the flesh. Slice each pieces of peel into half and place all the pieces into a pan.
Add enough cold water to cover the peel and bring to a boil on high heat. Simmer for 5 minutes and drain. Repeat this process twice more. This will remove the bitterness from the peel. Once done set aside drained peel.
To make the syrup for the next stage, add 250ml of water and 300g of granulated sugar to a clean pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer and once the sugar has dissolved and the syrup is bubbling add the peel. Do not stir as this will crystallise the syrup. Just lift up the pan once the peel is in and swirl the syrup around a bit to cover all the peel.
Simmer the peel in the sugar syrup for 20-25 minutes on low heat. Check and adjust heat if necessary at 10 minute intervals. If the syrup appears too dry just add a touch more water and lift the pan and swirl. Do not stir.
While the peel is cooking in the syrup prepare the sugar coating by placing 200g of granulated sugar on a baking tray.
After 20-25 minutes the peel should look glossy with most of the syrup thickened and absorbed in the peel. Carefully transfer the peel with a slotted spoon straight onto the sugar on the tray. Use a fork to mix in the sugar and coat each piece completely.
Leave the sugar coated candied peel to dry out for at least 6 hours or overnight. Store in an airtight container or jar with a little sugar at the base. And there you have it! Perfectly candied citrus peel for adding to lots of yummy baked treats. You can use them for up to four weeks.