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 really put a price tag on. It may cost very little to make yet it feels much more personalized and heartfelt than a pricier gift certificate or trinket. Candied orange peel is one of my favorite homemade holiday treats. I serve it at parties or seal it in a decorative mason jar and place it under the Christmas tree as a gift. It’s a crowd pleaser and people always want the recipe. Candied citrus is easy to make at home and also very customizable. In fact, there’s a good chance you already have everything you need to make it right now!
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, you simply 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! —Jennifer Farley | Savory Simple
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. 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 2 more times using fresh water each time (do not skip this step because it removes the bitterness from the peel).
Clean the saucepan with soap and water. Add the water, sugar, and vanilla bean if using. 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.
I'm a full time freelance recipe developer, food photographer and blogger living in Washington DC. I graduated in 2009 from the Culinary Arts program at L'Academie de Cuisine and have worked professionally as a pastry chef and cooking instructor. I recently published my first cookbook. My work has been featured by Williams-Sonoma, Bon Appetit, The Huffington Post, Marcus Sammuelsson and Cosmopolitan Magazine.