Candied Peel

I love love love candied peel. I used to run to the baking cupboard and cram spoonfuls of it in my mouth when my mum wasn’t looking. It was my favourite bit of any fruitcake or barmbrack. This is especially odd since I don’t like oranges as a fruit, juice or flavouring, and generally eschew citrus fruits of all kinds. But mellow those citrus rinds in vats of sugar and it’s hypnotic to me.

An inability to read recipes a few weeks ago meant I ended up with an overabundance of grapefruits when making marmalade for cake and found myself wondering what to do with them all. A casual Twitter conversation about Christmas preparations brought about a massive lightbulb moment. I would make my own candied peel. Never mind if it was incredibly faffy and complicated: I could rise to the challenge!

Imagine my glee when this Waitrose recipe popped up and I realised candying my own peel was actually easier than pie. Radio on, sleeves rolled up, I set about peeling and de-pithing my citrus fruit. I had a mix of pomelo, ruby grapefruit, lemons and orange, but avoided limes as I thought it might be too overwhelming, like cordial.

Get four pans going on your hob and simmer the peels separately in hot water for about 20 minutes to soften them up. Then split the peels into two pots to simmer in the syrup. I actually made two batches of candied peel and found it easier to keep the peels bigger and cram less peel into the pans as they bubble and soak up the sugar. I just did two batches of the syrup to be sure nothing caught or burned. Keep the heat down low as you can, you only want the merest blip in the syrup to stop it getting bitter or caramelising. Then go off and do stuff while your house smells truly amazing…

I came back to my peel when there was still a tiny bit of syrup left, and lifted the biggest pieces out with tongs, laying them on baking trays. The smaller bits went into a sieve to drip any excess syrup off, as you don’t want so much syrup on the pieces: they dry crunchy and I didn’t fancy trying to boil my pan dry and win the challenge. I then left the trayfuls of peel in the living room to dry as it was the only place I had room, but the airing cupboard or anywhere the cat can’t walk on them will do.

About three days later, I turned the peel with tongs and left for another two or three days or until I remembered about it. I popped it in a ziplock bag, with a tablespoon or so of icing sugar, and shook it up to coat it and stop it sticking together. Some went into the Christmas mincemeat. Some went into cellophane bags to give as gifts. The rest was stored in a jar to be used for various festive recipes closer to the time and the leftover syrup stored for a drizzle cake or put on porridge or ice cream.

So if you didn’t do a cake on Stir-Up Sunday, impress people with homemade candied peel instead. You will never buy one of those tiny tubs again after you’ve tasted the citrus sensation of making your own. It tastes as good as it looks!

12 replies
  1. Mister North
    Mister North says:

    “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker”. So said Ogden Nash, but after reading this, I think making your own candied peel is even quicker and easier than making your own booze.

    Plus it’s more socially acceptable to consume it on the bus 🙂

  2. thelittleloaf
    thelittleloaf says:

    I read the candied peel post on Kathryn’s site this morning and now I’m torn which to try! They both look absolutely delicious, and so Christmassy. Love the little jars in your photo too 🙂

  3. Miss South
    Miss South says:

    I felt so cool when I saw Kathryn had done candied peel too. My recipe is moderately easier in that I didn’t actually bother to cut it up to look as neat and alluring as Kathryn’s, preferring a more, ahem, rustic version! i think I might steal her idea of the granulated sugar for a more bejewelled look next time….

  4. Miss South
    Miss South says:

    Alicia, I haven’t seen that, but I’m off to look it up immediately. Sounds divine. The syrup from this stuff is amazing. I can’t wait to do a serious drizzle cake with it and I’m not usually a fan of citrus cakes. I’d love to do another batch of this when the blood oranges come out…

  5. Miss South
    Miss South says:

    It’s so festive when you get the smell of the peel cooking. I’m going to dip some in dark chocolate for gifts too as I’m not doing a cake this year. If anyone has tips as to how I could get an iced Christmas cake on a flght to Belfast for next year though?

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