Candied Lemon Peel and Candied Orange Peel are common ingredients in Holiday baking. Skip the hard, store-bought versions and make your own. It’s easy!
What is candied fruit?
Candied fruit, also known as crystallized fruit, has been around for ages. Traditionally, slices of fruit were heated in a sugar syrup as a way to preserve them. (The sugar syrup actually absorbs the moisture from within the fruit.)
It’s common to find candied ginger in the States, but if you see craisins, dried cherries, dried pineapple, or dried kiwi, odds are they have actually been candied (either entirely or partially) as well.
In Europe, something called “candied peel” is a common ingredient called for in baked goods and candies, particularly during the holiday time. (It’s a common ingredient in German Stollen, and can also be used in Italian Panettone, as well as Irish Barmbrack.)
Making your own Candied Citrus Peel
You can typically purchase candied lemon peel and orange peel from grocery stores that carry more specialty ingredients, but sometimes they can be tricky to find in the States, particularly if you’re looking for them outside of the holiday season.
And, to be honest, the store bought version is typically highly dyed, pumped with artificial flavoring, and full of high fructose corn syrup.
Not things that bring us holiday cheer. Or cheer at any time of year.
The good thing is, candied lemon peel and other candied citrus peel is INCREDIBLY easy to make at home. And, if you make it at home, you know exactly what’s going into it, and you can make just as much as you want to have on hand.
Plus, you can make it out of any citrus you like! Lemons, oranges, limes, grapefruit, they’re all game! And, each has their own, tasty uses!
How to make Candied Lemon Peel and other candied peel
Like we mentioned, the process to make candied citrus peel is super simple. Honestly, the toughest part of the whole process is peeling the citrus in large portions and then skimming some of the bitter pith off of the back of the deliciously fragrant peel.
Once you have your trimmed and sliced peel, it first gets boiled in two changes of water. These two boilings will soften the peel and remove any bitterness remaining from the pith.
Then comes the sugar bath. The peel are simmered in a simple syrup for an hour, until they are nearly translucent.
Finally, the peels are drained from the syrup and dried in a VERY low oven. (Keep that syrup, by the way, it’s tasty stuff!)
The process is a bit long, but it’s mostly hands off, and SO worth it!
How to use Candied Citrus Peel
Now that you have a stash of candied citrus peel, what are you going to do with it? (I mean, there is only so much Stollen one can make in a year.)
Don’t you worry, there are many ways to use up these sweet, citrusy treats.
- Sprinkle them over ice cream or yogurt
- Dip them in chocolate (Chocolate+Orange=YUMMY!)
- Use them as a topping for pies or cakes
- Mix them into muffin, pancake, or cake batter
- Tuck them into citrus-based cocktails as a sweet garnish
- Add them to homemade trail mix or granola
WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH THE LEFTOVER LEMONS?
Since making candied citrus peel only uses the zest (much like making your own limoncello), you will be left with lots of lemons (or oranges or limes) without skins that need to be used relatively soon.
A classic use for lemons them is lemonade – why not try limonana, a Mediterranean mint lemonade?
You can also use some lemon juice to make lemon curd (or orange curd or lime curd).
Or, simply freeze the juice in an ice cube tray so it is ready to use when you need it.
Now! What are you waiting for? Go forth and make some candied peel!
Candied Citrus Peel
- 4 oranges, 4 large lemons, 6 limes, or 3 grapefruit*
- 1 c sugar
- ¾ c water
- 2 tsp sugar
- Quarter the fruit and remove the peel and pith (the white part) in as large of sections as you can. Slice the peel into small strips and place them in a saucepan. Cover the strips of peel with cold water and bring to a boil. Simmer the peel for 5 minutes. Drain the saucepan and fill it with fresh, cold water. Bring the water to a boil for the second time and simmer again for 5 minutes. (This will soften the peel and remove the bitterness of the pith.) Drain for a second time, and set aside.
- In a wide-bottomed saucepan, whisk together sugar and ¾ c water, heating until the sugar has dissolved. Add the drained peel and simmer, covered, 50-60 minutes, until the peel is shiny and translucent. (Do not stir. If some of the peels are not submersed in the syrup, simply press them down. The peels are fragile and stirring will break them.)
- Remove the peels from the pan and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. (Save any leftover syrup. That’s good stuff!**)
- Sprinkle the peels lightly with granulated sugar.
- Put the baking sheet with the peels in a low oven (150F) for 1 hour, or until they have dried completely.
- Store in an air-tight container in a cool and dry place for 6-8 weeks.