Hands up, who eats oranges and throws away the peel? That’d be me, most of the time, and what a waste it is. I was prepping fruit for a salad the other day and my natural thriftiness, I’m happy to say, got the better of me so I made these.
You’ll find various methods in books and online and Catherine Phipps has a good quick version in her book Citrus, where you thinly pare the peel away, leaving behind the pith. Hers are delicate and perfect for cake decorating and other dainty tasks, but I wanted a thicker version to dunk into chocolate as an after dinner treat.
This recipe, 99.9% based on one from Mary Cadogan, is the best I’ve tried (move over, Felicity Cloake). It is a bit more of a faff than some but you don’t have to wait days for the peel to dry. You can prepare any citrus this way and it’s rather nice to have a mixture.
Dipping it in chocolate is optional, but it’s a lovely thing to serve guests with a postprandial coffee, and makes a great gift. (Still not mentioning the C-word here.)
Candied Orange Peel
4 large sweet oranges (or a mix of citrus)
About 600g granulated sugar
100g plain chocolate (optional)
Scrub the oranges first unless they’re unwaxed. Working with a sharp knife on a board, cut a horizontal slice off the top and bottom of the oranges so they stand flat and give you somewhere to start. Cut down and around each orange in sections, following its shape, and removing the pith with the peel. (Eat the orange flesh.)
Cut the peel lengthways into 1/4″ (7mm) matchsticks. Put in in a pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for five minutes. Drain, put it back in the pan with fresh water, and bring to the boil before simmering for 30 minutes.
Drain, reserving the liquid. Measure, and for every 100ml of cooking water, add 100g of sugar. Put the pan back on the heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the peel and simmer for 30 minutes, or until it is really soft and translucent. Cool in the syrup then drain. (You can strain the orange syrup to add to drinks or for a cake drizzle.)
Heat the oven to its lowest setting. Put the orange peel in a single layer on a wire rack. Put it on a lined baking tray (saves drips in your oven) and dry in the oven for 30 minutes.
Put a layer of sugar into a large dish and toss the peel in it, a few strips at a time, separating them and making sure they’re well coated. I find the easiest and least messy way to toss them is to use a couple of forks.
If you’d like chocolate-dipped peel, break up the chocolate and melt it in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching the water. Dip the candied peel into the chocolate to coat it halfway, shaking off any excess, and leave to set on parchment paper.
These are unlikely to last longer than it takes the chocolate to harden but will keep for around a week.