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 now closed Slow Travel forum as a suggestion for home-made food gifts. It is easy and exceptionally delicious.
It’s also 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?
I promise, you will taste often.
- 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. Wrap in kitchen paper, transfer in a 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.