Candied Organic Lemon Peel


I hate waste, especially with food, and even if I didn’t candied orange and lemon peel is so delicious, and has so many uses it really is worth the time and effort it takes to preserve. At Easter I use candied peel for Hot Cross Buns, Easter biscuits and Pashka (a traditional Russian Easter dessert ). At Christmas I use it for pannetone, fruit cake and Christmas mince pies. The rest of the year I use it for nougat and nibbling, and anything else I can think of. So next time you make a lemon tart, instead of throwing out the peel, try this simple recipe, it’s not really as complicated as it seems.


The process of candying fruit basically replaces all the moisture of the fruit with a saturated sugar syrup. This has to be done over time, but once all the moisture is replaced, degradation of the fruit virtually stops as sugar is an excellent preservative. Citrus peel does not have as much moisture as most fruit, making it easier and quicker to preserve.

The recipe below is for half a dozen lemons. I always use organic lemons, which means the peel is both unwaxed and pesticide free. If you can’t get unwaxed or organic lemons, scrub the fruit with a clean bristle brush in warm soapy water. Rinse well and dry.

DAY 1:

  • Cut your lemons in half and juice them, reserving the peel or remove the peel in quarters and reserve the flesh to juice later

  • Scrape away as much of the pith as possible with a spoon

  • Place the peel in a saucepan, cover with water and simmer for 30 minutes

  • Drain the peels, return to the pan and cover with fresh water

  • Simmer for a further 45 – 60 minutes

  • Drain, reserving about 1 1/2 cups (375ml) of the lemon water and setting the peels aside

  • Add I heaped cup (250ml) of granulated sugar to the pan, with the reserved water.

  • Stir on a low heat until the sugar has dissolved and then bring it to the boil.

  • Once the sugar syrup reaches boiling point add the peel and turn down the heat, simmering for a minute.

  • Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

  • Once cool decant into a sterilized bowl, cover and leave in a cool place for 2 days.

DAY 2:

  • After 2 days remove the peel and decant the syrup into a pan.

  • Add 3/4 cup of sugar, heating slowly to dissolve.

  • Add the peel, bringing to a boil, then simmer until the peel is translucent.

  • Cool, then store in a covered bowl for 2 weeks.

DAY 15:

  • Drain the peel, discarding the syrup

  • Lay the peel on a rack, not touching and cover with a sheet of wax paper. This will keep the dust off while the peel dries. Air should be able to circulate.

  • Put in a warm dry place to dry for two days, turning the peels occasionally to ensure they dry evenly.

  • Sprinkle with caster sugar and store in an airtight container.

To use, chop finely with a knife or scissors and add to your recipe

Thank you for using a Vanielje Kitchen recipe. I hope it fed you mind, body and soul.

8 Responses to “Candied Organic Lemon Peel”

  1. on 17 Mar 2008 at 2:03 am courtney

    This is the best recipe I’ve seen so far for candied lemon peel. It tkaes way more time but the results are better. Thanks.

  2. on 17 Mar 2008 at 2:11 am african vanielje

    Courtney, it takes forward planning but not that much actual cooking time. The same recipe can be used for oranges, lines etc.

  3. on 17 Mar 2008 at 1:58 pm StickyGooeyCreamyChewy

    I have some beautiful Meyer lemons in the fridge. What a great way to use them!

  4. on 21 Mar 2008 at 9:02 am baking soda

    I am going to try this one! I think they do well in home made granola!!

  5. on 21 Mar 2008 at 10:07 pm african vanielje

    SGCC I envy you your lovely Meyer Lemons, and this would be a great way to use them up

    Baking Soda, that’s such a good idea. I have a house guest who is slowly eating her way through my stash that I’m saving for Easter BIscuits

  6. on 19 Jul 2008 at 8:55 pm Jacoba

    I have just done it – but I made the recipe massively bigger – and used bigger pots, more sugar etc. Thought that since it all takes so long, I may as well do it. Well, what an incredible recipe. The result is PERFECT.

    Your incredibly amazing blog is just that – incredibly, amazing!!

    Thanks for an excellent read.

  7. on 18 May 2009 at 7:24 am Jennifer

    Love this. I hate waste too, so this is a nice recycling food project.

    Jennifer’s last blog post..Buttermilk Pancakes

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