I have always enjoyed savory over sweet food. Growing up I didn’t really crave sweets and there weren’t a lot of sweets laying around the house. My mom made great delicate deserts. This being said I have fond memories of a store in my hometown called Maiffret. They had every possible fruit that had been candied! It was in fact my French version of Willy Wonka Candied factory! I can still remember walking into the store, as a child, and seeing baskets after baskets filled with mountains of candied fruits! Not just oranges, but cumquats, cherries, kiwis, papaya, chestnuts, the isles kept going in every direction. Then I left for California to go to UCLS and my mom would send me a bag with an assortment of my favorite fruit because it was so special. And one day, they closed. Maybe the children of the owners didn’t want to take over the business. Overnight, our connexion to candied fruit was gone. My parents asked around but no other shop seemed to be making them anymore. It was a family business that had been passed down generations after generations.
Years went by and I almost forgot about them until one day. We had a bunch of oranges sitting on the counter and I remembered… candied peels. How hard can it be to make them? I started with 3 large oranges and a few tangerines, experimented with different sugar to water ratios, different sugar and they all yielded 6 small bags of pure goodness! How about that! It is also great to candy whole slices. They do make such lovely gifts!
Best use for candied citrus fruit
First is on their own, but also as a topping for vegan yogurt, pudding, chocolate mousse… sooo good!
Steps to make candied orange peels
If you want milder tasting peels, you can quickly blanch them and cool them down in an ice bath to stop the cooking. I personally love orange oil so I skip that step!
Carefully peel the fruit (oranges, lemons, grapefruit, etc.) making sure to keep pieces whole.
Cut into sticks of various lengths.
Simmer the peels in syrup for 35-40 minutes.
Dry for 24 hours on a tray or cooling rack.
Bag/store (doesn’t need refrigeration and will keep for months)
NOTE: if you are making sliced oranges, make sure that the slices are at least 3 millimeters otherwise the middle will disintegrate during the cooking. A mandolin or a very sharp knife will do the trick.
If you worry about your sugar intake (unless you are diabetic obviously!), don’t because you can only eat one or two pieces at a time. What I love about these peels is that the citrus oil keeps lingering on your taste buds, giving you a feeling of freshness in your mouth and throat that keeps on going!
Health Benefits of Orange peels
They are naturally high in Vitamin C, folate, and vitamin B6. Orange peels also have anti-cancer properties because they are rich in polyphenols which means they help boost your immune system, digestion, and in this case, oral health. And you thought you were making dessert!
Perfect Candied Oranges Peels
- baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat or cooling tray
- 4 oranges (preferably organic)
- 2 cups white sugar
- 2 cup water
- Rinse the oranges and pat dry.
- Cut off the top of each orange and make 2 vertical slits from the top to the bottom.
- Gently separate the skin from the flesh making sure not to tear each piece. You should end up with 4 pieces.
- Using a spoon or a pairing knife, remove any excess pith.
- Make sticks
Cooking the peels
- Heat up 2 cups of water with 2 cups of sugar and stir.
- When the sugar is dissolved, add the peels and stir to coat every piece.
- Cover and simmer for 40-50 minute, stirring every 15 minutes.
- When the peel becomes translucent, it is ready.
- If there is liquid syrup left at the bottom of the pot, you will need to use a cooling rack over a baking tray and let the excess syrup drip down.
- If most of the liquid has been absorbed by the peel, place all the pieces on a baking tray lined up with silicone mat, making sure that no piece overlaps or touches another one. Set aside for 24 hours or until the peels are dried.
- Sprinkle with a little sugar before storing or make gift bags!
Mix things up and use lemons, grapefruit, tangerines etc.,