When Christmas gets closer I get orange-crazy. I need to have a pot with some intensely orangey concoction quietly simmering on the stove. That exotic aroma keeps the cold Umbrian winter away from my soul.
I have been experimenting with candied orange peel for a while, but I was always unhappy with the leathery results and convoluted methods. I have been given this recipe by a kind soul from the Slow Travel forum (see original here) as a suggestion for home-made food gifts. It is easy, fabulously delicious and dangerous.
It’s dangerous because after a couple of days, the peel is transformed in a spectacular soft candy and you’ll find yourself in sugar/orange overload. I mean, you do need a taste or two to see when it’s ready, isn’t it?
- 5 lb. oranges (approx. 12 oranges)
- 8 cups/1.8 kg sugar
Halve and juice the oranges. Reserve the juice for another use. Place the peels in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook 3 minutes. Drain. Return peels to pot, cover with cold water, bring to a boil, cook 3 minutes, and drain. Repeat once more. Leave them in a colander until cool enough to handle, 20 minutes.
Using a spoon, scrape out soft the membranes and discard. Cut the peels into 1/2 inch (1 cm) wide strips and set aside.
In a large, shallow pot over high heat, bring 8 cups/2 lt. water and 6 cups/1.350 kg sugar to a boil. Add the peels, reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until peels are tender, and translucent. This will take 1.5 to 3 hours depending on the heat level of your stove. Don’t let the sugar brown or caramelize. Using a slotted spoon drain the peels and spread them on a tray lined with parchment paper. Once they are at room temperature toss them with 1 cup of sugar. Let them dry 1 day.
The next day the peels should look soft but dry. If they are still sticky, toss them with some more sugar (1/2 cup to 1 cup) and let them dry one or two more days.
At this point the peel should still be soft and can be packed for gifts. it will last about a month but be aware that if t is too moist it will eventually mould.
If you need them for cooking, leave the peel on the tray for several more days until crunchy. Transfer in an airtight container where it will last for months and it is great for flavoring all sort of sweets like – for example – my chocolate crostata .
The leftover syrup is great on pannacotta.