I was first exposed to the process of candying citrus peel when I worked at a French restaurant that offered the sweet, tart, chewy sugared strips along with candied nuts and house made chocolates to guests at the end of their visit. I was amazed at the transformation the discarded peels, which elsewhere would be considered fit for the compost heap, went through to become a trésor for fine dining.
The best part? It's some of the easiest candy you'll ever make. It's a bit time consuming, but not difficult. So the next time you're making a recipe that calls for citrus juice or segments, save the peels and make some delicious homemade candy.
Candied Citrus Peel
Peels from grapefruits, oranges, lemons or limes
2 cups simple syrup
granulated sugar as needed for coating (about 1-2 cups)
Set a pot of water on to boil and get a colander out to drain peels.
Using a sharp knife carefully remove pith (white) from peels and cut into strips. For this recipe, between 1 and 1.5 cups of prepared strips will work. If you're using more, increase amount of simple syrup. Boil strips for a couple of minutes and drain. Repeat with fresh water two more times. This blanching process mellows the peel to lessen the bitterness in the final product.
Put simple syrup on to simmer in a clean, dry pot. Using a candy thermometer let it come up to approximately 230º F before adding the blanched peels. Reduce heat to maintain a low simmer and cook 35-45 minutes. Let cool slightly before continuing. I simply use a fork to remove the peels from the pot, let drip, and then place into an air-tight storage container with the sugar. Cover tightly and shake to coat with the sugar. Lay strips on a wire rack and let dry several hours or overnight. Do not discard sugar. Store strips in the sugar until ready to use. Reserve remaining simple syrup to flavor cocktails, tea or anything to which you want to add a sweet citrus kick.
You can enjoy the strips plain or dip them in dark chocolate (so good!). I also use them to make my Fruit & Nut Bark and Orange-Cinnamon Candied Almonds. They make a wonderful garnish for frosted cakes and cupcakes - especially when paired with a chocolate frosting - yum!