Does anyone have experience with making candied citrus peels? I'm making candied orange peels now. They're on their third blanch, and they're still quite bitter, even though I took care to avoid as much pith as possible. Is it normal for them to still be somewhat bitter before hitting the simple-syrup jacuzzi?



campagnes December 20, 2010
Thanks so much for your help, AntoniaJames.. i was wondering whether the peels would firm up more if I left them out an extra day or two... sounds good to me!
AntoniaJames December 20, 2010
Just leave the orange peel out for another day or two (you can leave them on a cooling rack on a cookie sheet in your oven . . . just remember not to turn it on). They will get much harder with time. Parsons recommends leaving the peels out for two or three days, or for however long it takes to get to the chewy vs. hard state that you most desire. I assume that would work even if you don't use his method. Really like your report!! ;o)
campagnes December 20, 2010
Okay, I finished them all and thought I'd go ahead and post results:

I did grapefruit, tangerine, orange, and lemon peel. Interestingly, the toughest, most bitter peels were the orange (the first ones I did). They have been on a rack drying for nearly 24 hours and while the sugar outside has formed a nice "shell," they're just a lot softer than i'd like. Oh well. They taste great, though.

The tangerine and grapefruit are my favorites - nice and sweet, with great texture (and required only two blanchings).

I accidentally left the lemon peel cooking away in the syrup for longer than I should have, so they're a bit chewy, but still nice.

Oh, and I added about 1/2 tablespoon of rosewater to the leftover tangerine syrup and now have a fantastic tangerine/rose syrup that is BEGGING to be used on a cake involving mascarpone, I just know it. :)

Thanks for all the guidance, everyone!
AntoniaJames December 19, 2010
campagnes, warming them in the oven is essentially speeding up the drying process, to make the peel a bit less sticky. You put the peel on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet and put it in a slow oven (I did one batch at 150 degrees for an hour, and the second batch went into a 200 degree oven for about 45 minutes. In the second case, in part because I was really busy doing something else (talking to a client on the phone! ) when the 45 minutes were up and I wasn't thinking much about the peels, I just turned off the oven and let the peels sit in the oven for a few hours. It speeds up the drying out process considerably, with no adverse effect on the candied peels. I also did not dip the second batch in sugar. I like them better that way. I'm planning to do tangerine peels one of these days, and grapefruit. BTW, six blanchings is a lot, but if you just put a teakettle on simultaneously, to get two batches of water heating at once, you can cut the time in half. You don't have to put the peels in cold water and then heat them with the water. At least it didn't seem to make one whit of difference when I did it that way. ;o)
Foodelf December 19, 2010 A link to a lovely video tutorial at the British River Cottage website ... makes you just want to spend days and days in the kitchen candying everything in sight.
campagnes December 19, 2010
Thanks, AntoniaJames. I cooked mine in syrup for about an hour, too, then drained well, and they're currently drying on racks. They're no longer bitter at all (really delicious, actually!), but because I had to blanch them so many times, they're softer than I'd like. They had very, very little pith; I juiced the oranges for another use and found some of them quite bitter, so maybe I just got funky bitter oranges? Who knows.

If you don't mind sharing, what is the "warming in the oven" step you mentioned? I hadn't seen that step in the recipes I've looked at.

Tomorrow brings candied grapefruit, tangerine, and lemon peels.. wheee! If these require six blanchings, I'm going to verbally abuse them.
AntoniaJames December 19, 2010
You need to scrape out as much white stuff as you can from the inside of the peel, after it's been blanched two or three times, with a spoon with a sharp edge (some people use graprefruit spoons . . . my sterling dessert spoons work really well for me). I just finished a batch of orange peels (15 oranges worth) using Russ Parson's method from "How to Pick a Peach." I did not coat them in the sugar, as he recommends. I just let them dry out for a day or so after warming them in the oven. I did cook them in the syrup for about an hour. which I think was not even in the recipe, but I was doing the project when I could steal bits of time here and there to advance the cause and someone interrupted me at a key point, so, you know how that goes. Also, I ran out of time due to my client demands, so the peels actually sat in the syrup after cooking for about a day, before I could lay them out on the racks to dry. They are exquisitely delicious, without the tiniest trace of bitterness. My husband calls them "that orange candy." I've had to hide it from him. ;o)
campagnes December 18, 2010
I think they finally de-bitter-ized enough to be palatable, though it took SIX blanchings. They're simmering in simple syrup now and I think they'll be yummy, but I'm pretty sure they're not going to be worth that much trouble again. Thanks Nora! :)
Nora December 18, 2010
I made and loved candied grapefruit peel. I tried and failed with orange peel. I used the same method with both, so came away thinking it had to do with the thickness of the peels. I do wish you luck---let us know how it comes out, esp if you're happy with the outcome.
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