The fall season has several big holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanza to name just a few. It’s a season for feasting and also for gift giving, and I can think of nothing more I like to give and receive than gifts of food.
This season I am preparing jars of candied orange peel and tying them with seasonal ribbons (orange and black for Halloween; red and green for Christmas: blue and white for Chanukah: red, black and green for Kwanza).
There are two styles of candied orange peel: thick and thin. This week I prepared the thick style. In next week’s blog I will give a recipe for and describe candied orange zest.
Although the recipe can be doubled, because you are working with so much molten sugar, I don’t recommend it. I simply make a batch a day to fulfill my home, party and gift-giving needs.
Peeling so many oranges leaves me with lots of chunks of fresh orange, perfect for fruit salads, fruit desserts, and garnishes for many savory dishes. I store them in airtight covered containers in the fridge, and they can also be frozen.
Some important tips:
*When the orange peels are cooking in the sugar syrup, resist the urge to stir them. You may swirl the pan to make sure all are covered, but stirring sugar syrup often results in forming sugar crystals.
*Be sure to cook until the rind of the peels is translucent, about 1 hour.
*Be absolutely sure to dry on racks overnight. Place two or more racks at right angles from each other to prevent the skinny peels from falling through the grates.
Storage of peels is completely dependent on how dry they are, and dryness depends on kitchen humidity and a variety of other factors. So these are the directions on the labels of the jars:
“Use within 2 weeks and store unused portions in the freezer, or freeze and use as needed.”
That covers all possible exigencies. I have prepared some candied peels that lasted for months, but I have also had peels that began to collect moisture within the jar within 3 weeks. Better safe than sorry, especially after all the preparation.
Some uses for candied orange peel:
Dip half in melted bittersweet chocolate; dry on rack and serve as a sweet treat.
Garnish iced tea and cocktails with a peel.
Use to garnish cakes, frosted cupcakes, and pies, preferably those with a citrus or neutral flavor profile.
Mince and use as a cooking ingredients in cakes, cookies, ice cream, muffins and in savory dishes.
Mince and add to cranberry sauce or relish.
Add one peel to each glass of ice water at dinner.
- 6 navel oranges
- 5 cups of sugar, plus more as needed
- 2 cups of water
- 2 tablespoons vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Slice tops and bottoms off oranges and discard. Cut each orange lengthwise into 8 equal pieces (once in half, then each half in halves, then each quarter in halves).
- Using a sharp paring knife cut the orange peel including pith away from the flesh in one piece. Cut each peel into 4 lengthwise strips.
- Place all orange peel strips in a large (5- to 6-quart pot). Cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil; let boil for 3 minutes. Drain water. Repeat, draining peels in a large sieve.
- In the same pot stir sugar, water, vanilla and salt together. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to a brisk simmer and cook until sugar is completely dissolved, about 8 minutes. Add drained orange peels.
- Adjust heat to maintain a brisk simmer. Swirl the pan but do not stir.
- Cook until the orange part of the peel is translucent, 1 hour.
- Drain peels into a large sieve set over a metal bowl.
- Line a half-sheet pan with 2 layers of parchment paper. Sprinkle heavily with sugar. Dump peels onto the parchment and, using two forks, toss and separate, sprinkling on more sugar as needed, until the peels are heavily coated with sugar.
- Transfer the peels to metal racks and let dry overnight.
- Pack into airtight half-pint jars. Label: "Use within 2 weeks, freezing unused portion, or freeze and use as needed."
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