Want a sweet treat and a delicious smelling house? Make candied peel. I’m not really a fan of shop-bought candied peel because it’s too bitter and dry. However, home-made candied peel is the perfect balance of sweet, chewy and crunchy.
It’s lovely nibbled on its own, reaches a whole new level dipped into dark chocolate and turns basic biscuits into the sort of snack that would cost about £3 for a pack of six. It’s also great way to use up oranges that are past their best (and indeed, lemons, limes or grapefruit) – and is ridiculously easy to make.
Take one orange (or ideally, about ten oranges because candied orange peel is addictive). It doesn’t matter if the skin is a bit wrinkly as long as it’s not rotten or mouldy.
Cut oranges in half
Squeeze oranges. You can use an orange juicer but these oranges were so soft it was easy to do by hand. Drink the juice, or add it it champagne/cava/prosecco to make a Buck’s Fizz
Flatten the orange peel by slamming it with the heel of your hand. Scrape away the worst of the pith so it’s not too bitter. Chop the skin into strips (you can chop it into smaller pieces if you want but the candied peel is more versatile if you make it in big pieces and chop it down as required.)
Cover with water and add sugar. Aim for 1/3 to 1/2 the amount of sugar as there is water.Simmer the oranges in the sugar water until they take on the sweetness and make the house smell incredible.
Fish the orange peel out of the sugar water then reduce down the orangey sugar water until it’s caramelised and golden (but not as far gone as toffee)
Return the orange to the syrup and stir until thoroughly coated.
Scoop the orange peel out of the caramel mixture, spread out on a baking sheet and sprinkle with granulated sugar (which you could flavour with vanilla) while it’s still warm. Leave in a cold oven or larder to dry out overnight (checking it tastes right first, obviously) The longer you dry it, the chewier it’ll be, but about four days after making it seemed to be the optimum with this batch. Once it’s made, either eat it as it is, chop it down to go into cakes or biscuits, dip it in chocolate or package it up in pretty jars as an unusual gift that’s sure to be well-received. And you can always use it to make fruit liqueurs too…