Right after Christmas, when we have lots of citrus on hand, I start making candied orange peel. Its an old fashioned candy that folks used to make to keep from wasting the peel. I like just plain orange peel, I know its not a taste everyone likes though. The sugar makes it palatable for everyone.
The best kind of oranges to use for this are thin skinned ones. You CAN use naval oranges but you’ll have lots of pith to remove before you can candy the peel. Its just easier and I think the thin skin is better tasting anyway.
It doesn’t matter how much peel you have, you’ll be cooking it in the same amount of syrup. But you can save the syrup from batch to batch and just add sugar and water to it as you need.
Its best to use organic oranges for this too, but back in the day before we had organic stuff, I just used regular oranges and washed them before I set them out in a bowl for everyone to eat.
Also, it doesn’t matter how shaggy the peels are but if you want nice even pieces of candied peel you’ll want to cut and quarter the oranges as you peel them. Store the peels in a bowl in the kitchen til you have all you want to make the candy.
First, put 2 cups sugar and 2 cups water in a medium sized, heavy bottomed pan. Bring it to a boil and then drop all the orange peel in it. Boil for 10 minutes.
At this point if your peel has lots of white pith on it, you’ll want to take the peel out of the syrup and use a spoon to scrape off a lot of the pith. The more you scrape off, the stiffer and harder the finished candy will be. I like it kind of chewy so I leave the pith on when using thin skinned oranges and I don’t scrape it all off of the peel of naval or Florida oranges either.
Return the oranges to the syrup and bring back to a boil for 10 minutes. If you didn’t scrape pith, just leave the orange peels in the syrup and let it boil another 10 minutes.
Now take the peel out of the syrup draining it as best you can while reserving the syrup if you want to use it again, and let the peels drain. I use a small colander.
Next put about 2 cups of sugar in a large plate ( I use pure cane sugar) and piece by piece press the boiled peel into the sugar. Some people even use a rolling pin to press the sugar into the peel. I just use the back of a spoon.
Next you can cut your sugared peel into strips and lay it on parchment paper or a wire cooling rack to dry. I have even dried it in a dehydrator on about 110*F for a couple of hours, works great. When the strips or pieces are no longer wet and are sort of firm, they’re ready.
Store dried candied peel in glass jars, tightly covered. It will last a long time on the shelf if it is really dry, but I like to freeze it to have on hand for months.