Sunday, November 23, 2014

Candied Orange Peels

One of my favorite Christmas sweets to make are candied citrus peels.  They appeal to my sweet tooth and my desire to find the edible in what we tend to throw away (or compost.)  Each year we order a box of ruby red grapefruit from Pell's Orchard in Florida and it typically arrives the week we go back to school after the holiday break.  It is so nice to have a grapefruit every morning, especially in early January in Vermont!

I save the rinds of every grapefruit and orange that we eat throughout the year.  Clementines are not worth saving for this project.  They are too thin and you do not get big enough pieces.  I use a sharp knife to shave off the pith inside the rind and then slice the rind only into thin ribbons.  I put those ribbons into a freezer bag and keep adding to it until about May when the farmers markets start up again and, well, when we are sick of grapefruit.  By then, I usually have at least a full freezer back of rinds ready to be candied for Christmas.  This has proven to be enough to give away as gifts, use in experimental recipes and enjoy throughout the winter.  The trick is hiding them until I have the chance to give them away.  

Ingredients:  (for my full batch)
1 Gallon Freezer Bag full of citrus peels (16 cups, which probably comes from 32 grapefruit)
11 cups sugar

Put peels in large pot and cover with water.  Bring to boil over low heat and then let simmer for 10 minutes.  Drain.  Cover with water again, bring to boil, let simmer for 10 minutes again.  Repeat this whole process for a total of three times.  Drain your rinds and add 10 cups of sugar and 10 cups of water to your pot.  Bring to a boil, stirring a bit until the sugar has fully disolved.  When the candy thermometer reads read 220 degrees, add your rinds.  If you are not using a candy thermometer, the syrup should be boiling rapidly and should smell of carmelization.  Simmer until transluscent, about 45 minutes. At that point, turn them off and let them sit in the sugar syrup at room temperature until cool enough to handle.  You can leave them overnight if you want.  [The original recipe says you are supposed to bring them back to a boil and when they reach 226 degrees, then turn off the heat, let them sit for 4 hours and then bring them back to a boil until they reach 228 degrees.  Then you are supposed to let them sit.  I did that whole thing once and it was a huge pain.  I skipped it last year and everything came out fine.]

Once your rinds are cool enough to handle use a fork and  your fingers to spread them out on a cooling rack placed over a cookie sheet.  Then, place them in a turned-off oven, or a dry room in your house for 24 hours.  After that, put them all in a big zip lock bag, add the remaining cup of sugar and toss them around a bit.

We like to eat these like gummy candy, but I also use them in salads, tea breads, atop desserts like chocolate mousse or something with whipped cream.    

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