After drinking the juice of all those terrific Sagada oranges I wrote about a few days ago, I had a fridge full of about 25 orange peels â€“ and the best thing I could think of to make with them was candied orange peel. Candied orange peel is absolutely delicious, and actually, really easy (if a bit time consuming) to make. From the 20+ oranges we were able to make about 800 grams of candied orange peel rolled in caster sugar and another 800 grams of peel that were dipped into dark chocolate. We gave them away at the end of a dinner party, to friends, and ate a lot as wellâ€¦yum. Little cellophane bags with about 80 grams of the candied orange peel were the little â€œpabaonâ€ that we sent home with dinner guests.
To make, wash the skins well and remove as much of the white pith as possible (this stuff is quite bitter and has a weird mouth feel if too much is left on). Slice the peel thinly and put in a large pot. Cover with water and add about a tablespoon on salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 30-40 minutes. Drain, change the water and repeat but without the salt. Drain and change the water and repeat process again. Then make a sugar syrup that is about 2 cups water and 2 cups granulated sugar and simmer the drained orange peels in this mixture for about 30-40 minutes. Sugar should not caramelize or turn brown so keep the heat low. Essentially, the peel is just absorbing the sugar and oddly, goes from soft to a firmer texture. If you really wanted to do it the old style, soaking in sugar syrup would take days until the peel is essentially almost purely sugar. This simple recipe I used however came from recipelink.com although I am skeptical how their recipe with 8 oranges made 3-4 lbs of candy when my 20+ oranges barely made 3 lbs of candyâ€¦I used a total of four cups of sugar and 4 cups of water for all of my peels.
Once the peels in syrup look done (not much liquid left and they have a glossy appearance), drain the peels and cool a bit before rolling in caster sugar. I like caster (finer) sugar because it has much smaller grains and goes well with the small size of the peels. Caster sugar is available in large groceries under the Peotraco brand (they also make the powdered sugar). Dry the peels on a cookie rack. You will be amazed by how hard and dry they get, even in our really humid tropical weather. For half of the peels, I skipped the rolling in sugar step and dipped them directly into dark chocolate and put those in the fridge to setâ€¦they were excellent too. I now understand why these delicacies are so expensive when you purchase them from chocolate shopsâ€¦the amount of time and labor put into them (not to mention the individual dipping in chocolate as I cannot imagine a machine doing it well) is what piles on the cost. Otherwise, if you have leftover peels, lots of sugar and time, you have the ingredients of a delicious and perfect food gift.