Candied Orange Peels

6 large navel oranges (thick skins work best)
6 cups granulated sugar
Optional: 1 cinnamon stick, 1 vanilla bean or 2 cloves

Wash and dry oranges, and cut into wedges (quarters or eighths). Remove the fruit and set aside for another use. The sections of peel should still have the white pith attached. Place peels in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer 20 minutes. Drain off the water, refill with fresh water, and boil 20 more minutes to remove the bitterness. Drain again.

Add 4 1/2 cups sugar and 3 cups of water to the pan with spice(s) if desired. Boil the peels, uncovered, in this simple syrup on medium heat for 1 hour. Gently remove peels from the syrup and drain on a rack, white side down, for a few minutes. Save the syrup for mixing cocktails!

When peels are cool, slice them lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips, using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors. Roll the strips in the remaining sugar. Turn on the oven to 180°F, and spread the strips in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake 60-90 minutes - don't use higher temperature or leave them in longer than 90 minutes, or the sugar will begin to melt. Cool to room temperature, at least another hour, or overnight.


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