Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Candied Orange and Lemon Peel
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Oranges and lemons and spice - how nice! Perhaps, but I wonder how many European Christmas treasures have been ruined using the glazed peels and citron that we buy for baking during the holidays. I, only recently, discovered that citron is a fruit, related to the orange and lemon, but with an identity all its own. I had always assumed that citron was candied lemon peel. Citron is valued for medicinal purposes and in the ancient world was mixed with wine as an anecdote to poison - if only Socrates and Seneca had known! While this may be a culturally acquired taste, my palate can't deal with citron, so I decided to follow the example of frugal peasant housewives around the world, and, working from an old recipe, make my own candied peel. What a treat! Fresh candied peel is a confection that will enormously improve stollen, panettone, cassata and Scandinavian Christmas breads, replacing bitterness with the true essence of the fruit. I was also delighted to find that Davis Lebovotiz had come up with a recipe to make crystallized ginger in home kitchens. Now between work, cooking, cleaning, decorating, shopping, wrapping and keeping the children entertained, you'll have something to fill your idle hours. My work here is done!
Candied Orange and Lemon Peel...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
8 large, thick skinned naval oranges or 14 large, thick skinned lemons
4 cups granulated sugar, divided use
1 cup water
1) Cutting lengthwise, quarter the peel of oranges or lemons with a paring knife. Remove peel from each quarter, saving the fruit for another use. Place peel in a 4 to 6-quart pot; cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes. Drain. When cool use a tablespoon to dig out most of the white pith. Cut the remaining peel into 1/4-inch strips and set aside.
2) Combine 2 cups of sugar with 1 cup of water in a medium saucepan. Set over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add peel, cover, and simmer gently for 45 minutes. Remove peel; drain on a wire cooling rack and allow to dry for 1 hour.
3) Place peel and remaining 2 cups sugar in a large bowl. Toss until peel is evenly coated. Shake excess sugar from peel and place on a baking sheet; allow to dry overnight. Store in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks. Yield: 2 quarts orange or 1-1/2 quarts lemon peel.