Christmas Citrus Peel

I always buy organic oranges to juice for my daughter, and as they come at a premium I don’t like to waste pith, peel or pip. So at the end of every bag of oranges I whip up a quick batch of candied peel which I theoretically stockpile for Christmas. I say theoretically, because that is of course the idea, but these little citrus twists are so moreish that come Christmas cake baking time I generally find the cupboard is bare (or the jar is empty). Maybe I shouldn’t put them in a jar, on display, on the counter next to the kettle. But they go so well with espresso.

And you know how when you stand there waiting for the kettle to boil it doesn’t, just to spite you. Well try nibbling on one or six of these in the interim and you’ll find that the kettle has boiled before you know it. In fact sometimes I boil it twice just to make sure it is hot. You still need to do the nibbling second time around or the trick doesn’t work. But as I’ve said, no hardship.

Come November, if I find I still have a few left, I sometimes melt down a precious bar of dark chocolate to dip the ends of a few strips in. Two of my favourite tastes combined in one double whammy. Little packets or bottles make a great Christmas gift, once again theoretically, because I’ve never actually given them to anyone. Mostly because no matter how large the batch there just never seem to be any leftover to give away.

Anyway, none of these are the main reason for making your own peel. The whole raison d’etre for candied citrus peel is to perk up your Christmas cake. You won’t believe how much better your fruitcake will taste with your own peel in it, and you don’t have to limit yourself to orange. Lemon, lime and even grapefruit can be candied and kept for the big event.

So come on, all you need is some citrus peel and sugar. Why don’t you plan it for this weekend? That way you’ll be ready to make fruitcake next week.

Don’t forget to browse the Vanielje Kitchen Cook Book for recipes, or open to the Candied Citrus Peel page.

11 Responses to “Christmas Citrus Peel”

  1. on 14 Nov 2007 at 1:36 pm Annemarie

    You make citrus peel sound as alluring as it possibly could, but I’m afraid it’s my one foodstuff I don’t like and the reason I won’t eat Christmas pudding. Still, everyone else loves it so it’s a nice reminder now to throw out those rinds.

  2. on 14 Nov 2007 at 3:48 pm Kit

    d peel is one of my favourites too but I’ve never made my own – and dipped in chocolate …it would never make it into Christmas wrapping here either. Don’t know where I’ll find organic oranges here at this time of year, but I’ve still got some home grown lemons I can try it with. And I haven’t baked teh Christmas cake yet so if I make enough I’ll use it for that.

  3. on 14 Nov 2007 at 4:57 pm african vanielje

    Oh Annemarie, I don’t know whether to sympathise or commiserate. I can’t really empathise because a world without citrus curls (as my mom calls them) is one that is truly incomprehensible to me.

    Kit, lemons are perfect but if you just have normal oranges, scrub them in soapy water to remove any was. That should do the trick. Or if you are specifically making peel, try and buy organic or unwaxed.

  4. on 14 Nov 2007 at 5:05 pm Mrs. W

    Where can I find the recipe for these delicious-looking candied peels? I can’t seem to locate them on your cookbook page. :(

  5. on 14 Nov 2007 at 5:43 pm Hillary

    What a great idea! I like that you’ll have this gorgeous candied orange peel onhand for the holidays.

  6. on 14 Nov 2007 at 5:43 pm african vanielje

    Sorry Mrs W, there seemed to be some problem but I have fixed the link now and reuploaded the recipe in Vanielje Kitchen Cook Book

  7. on 14 Nov 2007 at 6:43 pm hannehanne

    I’m so happy to find this. I love citrus in any form, and I also love it when I can use up EVERYTHING. It gives me a nice virtuous, capable feeling. I’m definitely trying out candied orange peel.

  8. on 14 Nov 2007 at 8:29 pm katiez

    They are rather moreish. We made them last fall for the first time and they weren’t quite right. We ate the entire batch pondering the problem…and then made more.
    We’re still working on it…

  9. on 14 Nov 2007 at 10:05 pm Marye

    You are too funny..imagine only boiling the pot twice.
    Do you know I have NEVER done this?
    i suppose I will have to try it now.

  10. on 14 Nov 2007 at 11:29 pm african vanielje

    hannehanne I love feeling virtuous and capable, sadly I am more often virtually incapable, but don’t let that put you off these peels. If I can do them anyone can

    Katiez – troubleshooter at your service. The fruit should be at the required level of softness / hardness before you take it out of the syrup. It will dry, but if you have boiled it in the original water until soft you will never get a nice dried out peel. Also the syrup should not boil as this brings the syrup to various degrees of caramelization, and therefore different sets. You just want a light simmer until the sugar syrup has replaced all the water within the peel, you’ll recognise this when it’s transparent. Drying is also important as too long hanging around wet and soggy will make it go mouldy, so just make sure it is in a warm spot, or completely immersed in sugar and in an airtight container. No in between. Good luck

    Marye, double boiling the kettle scares away all the oxygen in the water and makes the tea taste flat, but it gives me time to gather my thoughts sometimes, and an excuse to eat citrus curls at others.

  11. on 15 Nov 2007 at 5:10 am Papin

    My favorite too: candied orange strips dipped in chocolate contrasted by the warm, mellow, bitterness of an espresso. Great photo too.

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