Candied Citrus Peel

  • Prep the peel. How you prepare the peel for candying depends on both how you plan to ultimately use it and personal taste. First, you have to decide how much of the pith to keep; the pith has more bitterness (which can also be addressed in Step 2) and can take longer to prepare, but it also has a lot of flavor. Either leave the peel intact, use a paring knife to slice off some of the pith, or use a vegetable peeler to just get the very outside peel. Second, cut the peel into whatever shape you prefer. Strips are common but go as artistic or rustic as you’d like. I like to maintain all of the pith and cut the peel into wide strips.
  • Boil the peel…or don’t. Boiling removes bitterness but also some of the flavor. Since much of the bitterness resides in the pith, take into consideration which method you used in Step 1. I prefer an intense citrus flavor, so if I have removed much of the pith or the skins are naturally slender (as with tangerines), I skip boiling altogether; for a thick peel I will boil once. Cover the peel with cold water and bring just to a boil, then drain.
  • Cook the peel in sugar syrup. Many recipes call for a simple syrup made of a 1:1 sugar to water ratio, but I recommend using 50% more sugar for candying citrus. Use as much water as needed to just cover the peel – I’ve used as little as ½ cup water and ¾ cup sugar when cooking peels from two tangerines. Bring the water and sugar mixture to a boil until the sugar has dissolved before reducing to a bare simmer and adding the peel. Cook the peel until it just beings to turn translucent, which can take as little as 30 minutes to as long as an hour.Strain the peel but keep the flavored syrup to add to cocktails, dressings and tea or to brush on cakes.
  • Toss in granulated sugar…or don’t. If you’ll be chopping up the peel to add to a baked good, the extra sugar is superfluous. However, if the peel will be used as a garnish or snack unto itself, the sugar adds a pleasant crunch and a pretty sparkle. Tip: Use two forks to toss the peel and avoid a sticky mess.
  • Spread the peel on a cooling rack for two hours or until dry, and store in an airtight container for a week on the counter or month in the fridge.
  • Sarah Crowder