Monday, April 18, 2011

Candied Orange Peels

I know not everyone agrees with me on this--but I love watching Martha Stewart. A couple of weeks ago she had a guest on who demonstrated how she candies lemon peels. I thought that looked like an interesting way to use the orange peel instead of sending it out with the compost, and took note of the instructions.  A couple of days later Michael and I made a trip to Costco, and I came home with a 13 pound box of oranges. I'm nowhere near finished with that whole box of fruit yet, but I have gone through enough of them to make a pretty good batch of candied orange peels.
I ended up with the peels from about 7 oranges. Before you can use them, you have to separate the membrane from the pith. A little knife works well for just pulling it away. I cut the peels into manageable pieces, and put them into a pot of boiling water. I wasn't scientific about this at all. I'd put the peels in the water, let them boil for about 10 minutes, then change the water. The boiling makes the peel tender, and also helps get rid of the bitter compounds in the pith and peel. I changed the water twice, and the third boil wasn't quite as long as the first 2, once I realized I had some pretty tender orange bits.
I then mixed up a simple syrup to boil the peels in. I think I had about 4 cups of water with 4 cups of sugar.  With oranges in the syrup, I brought the mixture to a boil and let it simmer for about half an hour. Maybe longer. Like I said, not too scientific about this one. Then I turned the burner off and let the covered pot sit on the stove for a few hours before removing it to the fridge. The peels marinated for two days in my fridge, before I drained the syrup away and started drying them.
Now, most instructions I read said to just spread the peels out and let them air dry for a couple of days. The humidity is extremely high here in Arcata (over 90% the morning of this venture), so it was more likely that the things would mold or go bad before ever drying out if I tried to do it that way. Instead, I spread them on a baking sheet and dried them in a 200 degree oven for a couple of hours.
The final step, when the peels were dried to my satisfaction, was to sprinkle them with sugar. This makes them a bit less sticky to the touch, as well as adding more sweetness. The final product is quite addictive. I'm not sure that they're dry enough to be stored for a hugely extended amount of time, but they should keep in a sealed container for at least a couple of weeks. They taste like store bought orange candy, but brilliantly better, and probably won't be around long enough to have a chance to go bad.

The best way to measure success: I've had to hide the tray from my roommate to keep her from eating them all, and this is the first time I've offered something to Michael, and have him respond with, "This is amazing!"


  1. I know what you mean about being a MS fan. It's hard to admit. I watch her show at the gym and always come away inspired. I'll have to try making candied orange peels. I compost tons of orange and lemon peels every week.


  2. I am very excited to try this recipe! Thank you for sharing!

  3. LOL I was about to say "good thing you took them with you, otherwise I would have eaten them all!" but you already mentioned that. : )

    the kitchen has been very lame and lonely with out you. I made another pineapple upside down cake, and another lumpy banana bread in your absence.