My cooking philosophy has always been about minimizing waste in the kitchen. I assume it comes from my grandmother and mother’s frugal ways in the kitchen and I appreciate that their practices made an impact on me. Whether it’s using all of the vegetables (stems and leaves), saving peels for stock, or repurposing leftovers, I do everything I can to keep food out of the waste can or garbage disposal. After watching my husband plow through crates of oranges this winter, I realized I did not have to throw away all of those peels. Isn’t candied orange peels a thing? After doing some recipe research and making a few batches, I found my favorite method. Candied orange peels are not bitter, they are lightly sweet, have texture and if you put them on a wire rack, sprinkled with sugar, they become chewy like gumdrops. I took it a step further and dusted some of them with some citric acid to give them a sour punch of flavor (my family loves sour candy in any form, even orange peels).
They are so pretty stored in a jar. Tie with ribbon and you have a delicious gift.
Candied Orange Peels
3 navel oranges, rinsed
3 cups water
2 cups sugar
- Using a sharp paring knife, cut the top and bottom from the orange. Stand orange on it’s flat base on a cutting board, and with knife, working from top to bottom, slice off bands of orange peel, about 1 inch wide. Be sure to include all of the white, inner pith and it’s okay if some of the flesh of the orange comes off with the peel. Slice each peel into thin strips, about 1/4 inch wide.
- Bring a 3-4 quart saucepan of water to a boil. Drop in the peels and boil for 1 minute. Drain the peels in a sieve, run cold water over them, and repeat this boil and rinse process two more times.
- Place the peels on a plate. Fill the pan with 3 cups of fresh water and 2 cups of sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Carefully drop in the peels, lower the heat so the syrup just simmers and poach the peels gently, without stirring, for 45-60 minutes or until they are translucent.
- Spoon peels into a heat-proof jar (with a lid) and cover them with the syrup. Seal the jar and allow the syrup to cool to room temperature before refrigerating.
Don’t skip the boil and rinse step, this prevents the peels from being bitter. Keep the white, cottony pith attached to the rind. Store in the fridge for about 2 months.
Remove the peels from the syrup and allow the syrup to drip back into the jar. Save the syrup to use over ice cream, yogurt or fruit salad. Dredge the peels in sugar and transfer them to a wire rack to dry overnight. Store in a covered container, but not in the refrigerator.
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan, Dorie’s Cookies.