I came home the other day to a boxed surprise sent from family living in Florida, the Sunshine State. It was a large box of navel oranges and ruby red grapefruit from Woolbright Farmers Market. When I say large box, I mean about a dozen navels and a dozen grapefruits; a ton of happy citrus and just in time for the holiday.
But what to do with it all? I can only eat so many oranges a day.
I had an inspiration as I was supreming my first navel. Supreming a citrus fruit is removing the peel, pith, membranes and pits in such a way that all that remains are juicy segments, perfect for eating, fruit salad or other uses. There is a great instructional video on YouTube you can find here. Once you've surpremed your fruit, you're left with perfectly good peel just waiting to be used for something else. Citrus peel can be used to spice some hot apple cider or make mulled wine, both wonderful on a cold winter's night. Peel can also be candied, which makes an excellent additions to pies, puddings, cakes or just eaten whole, dipped in chocolate.
As someone with food allergies, I rarely eat desserts that I haven't made. This means if I want any kind of sweet thing, it's best that I make it from scratch. There are some treats that are easy, with few, highly controllable ingredients. Candied peel is one of those treats.
I've made candied peel only once before. After college, I went to live and work in London for six months. I was living in a very quiet part of town. It was about this time of year too. In London, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and a bank holiday Monday meant at least a 4 day city-wide shutdown. Grocery stores, movie theaters, department stores -- places that stay open in my never-sleeping hometown of New York -- were not an option. So during that time, in my little apartment, after eating a bunch of oranges, I decided to candy.
Candying peel is labor intensive. You need to supreme your citrus and cut the peel into strips. The peel needs to be blanched in three or so water baths which removes the bitterness. The blanched peel is then cooked in sugar syrup until translucent. Then the peel is drained, rolled in granulated sugar and dried on a rack. This is no Duncan Heinz mix dessert. However, the candied peel lasts for weeks in an airtight container if you don't gobble it up immediately or serve it as an after dinner delicacy to lucky friends and family.
I haven't made candied peel since that week in London. So this week, with all of this extra peel from supreming my oranges and grapefruit, I've decided it would be a great time to have a candied peel eating party at my house. Food Network features an easy candied peel recipe here: Candied Oranges
There's an excellent story on NPR about candied peel and chocolate with two recipes included here: Oranges and Chocolate: Romancing the Rind
Published On: December 24, 2007