It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.
I love giving out edible gifts over the holiday season; there’s something so comforting and timeless about a homemade present that you can’t put a price tag on. It may cost very little to make, but it feels much more personalized and heartfelt than something pricier.
Candied orange peel is one of my favorite homemade holiday treats. I serve it at parties or seal it in a decorative jar and place it under the Christmas tree as a gift. It’s a crowd pleaser, easy to make at home, and very customizable. In fact, there’s a good chance you already have everything you need to make it right now.
More: Dress up your homemade gifts with fancy trimmings.
It does take a few hours to prepare this recipe, but you can break it up over two days. The orange peel needs to be blanched in water to remove bitterness and then simmered for a few hours in a simple syrup, which I like to do in the evening while watching a movie. Once the peel has been candied, let it dry overnight on a cooling rack and then toss it in granulated sugar the next morning. Sugar preserves the orange peel so that it will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for two weeks, but I can pretty much guarantee it won’t last that long -- these are very addictive.
For variations, try swapping out the orange peel for another citrus, such as grapefruit or Meyer lemon. You can also dip the finished candied orange peel in melted bittersweet chocolate for a more decadent treat.
Makes 4 cups
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (optional)
Slice the orange into quarters. Use a large spoon to scoop out the fruit, but leave as much of the white pith attached to the peel as possible.
Use a sharp knife to slice the peel into thin slices.
Place the orange peels in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes. Drain and repeat this process two more times, using fresh water each time.
Clean the saucepan with soap and water. Add the water, sugar, and vanilla bean, if you're using it. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Reduce to a simmer and add the orange peels. Simmer on very low heat, stirring approximately every 25 minutes, until the peel becomes slightly translucent, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and a cooling rack. Using tongs, remove the orange peels from the syrup, shake off any excess liquid, and move to the rack to finish draining. Allow the candied orange peels to dry overnight.
Toss with sugar before serving.
Photos by Jennifer Farley