Update: If canning/preserving is your “thing” be sure to visit my new growing, canning, and preserving site at Seed to Pantry. I’ll be adding new canning/preserving tips and techniques on a regular basis!
Fruitcake is one of the season’s best gifts – but not when it’s made with the sickeningly sweet candied fruit found in most grocery stores. This year I am making several different kinds of fruitcake, but first decided to make my own candied orange peel. It’s a really simple process and one that provides a true orange flavor to cakes and cookies, not just sweetness.
Wash and peel two large navel oranges. If the orange peel has a large amount of pith (the white part), cut some of it away with a sharp paring knife.
Cut the peel into strips about 1/4 inch wide. Put in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Pour off the water. Repeat 2 more times. Yes, this process is a bit tedious but it reduces the bitterness. (Have you ever eaten orange peel? It’s pretty bitter!) Drain the peel.
Combine 1 1/2 cups of sugar and 1/2 cup of water in the saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8 minutes or until soft thread stage (232 degrees). Add the drained peel and continue simmering gently. Cook for about 45 minutes or until the peels have a translucent quality. Don’t stir while cooking as this could cause the formation of large sugar crystals.
Drain the peels, roll in additional granulated sugar and let dry overnight on a rack.
Store the candied peel in an airtight container.
I used most of this batch in fruitcake, but it can also be dipped in chocolate, added to cookies, stuffed in a dried date or eaten as is. WARNING! These things are addictive! The first bite is a little bitter. The second bite is pretty good. The third bite is yummy. By the forth bite some sort of compulsion takes over and you can’t stop eating them. In which case, it’s probably time for me to make a new batch. Maybe I’ll try lemon this time…..