Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Candied Orange Peels

What's better than winter citrus? Winter citrus candy!
Waste not, want not:
Candied Navel Orange Peels
Candied orange peels, coated in sugar and fully dried. Time to add some dark chocolate!
I hate to waste food. This is evidenced by my freezer full of vegetable scraps, the many bins of compost around the perimeter of our yard, the constant rotation of pickling/ preserving projects in the pantry and, in the winter, the big tupperware container full of orange peels in the fridge. 

A big box of Florida oranges is a Christmas tradition in my family; started by my grandparents and now continued by my mom and dad.  When I depart my childhood home after the holidays, I do so with a more than generous box or bag full of oranges.  I never juice them or do much other than just eat them. Being able to eat a fresh, juicy orange almost every day during the long, dark New England winter is a true gift, there are few foods more uplifting. But what to do with all of those peels??
Saved navel orange peels, sliced into matchsticks.

You're telling me I can make CANDY???

Done and done.

Candied orange peels are a lovely little treat, perfect with an afternoon cup of tea. The cooking process gives the peels a soft, almost jelly-like texture. Elegant, delightfully fragrant and delicious, they are the perfect winter dessert, also a great way to preserve the flavor of fresh seasonal citrus for the rest of the year. I highly recommend coating your finished orange peel with a bit of melted dark chocolate.
Trust me on this one.

Saved navel orange peels, waiting to be candied.

Candied Orange Peels:

You will need:
Peels of 6-8 oranges,
navels work best,
cut into 1/4" matchsticks (about 2c)
3c water
2.5c vegan organic sugar

9 cups of boiling water,
for blanching.
extra sugar, approx. 1/2c for coating

Dark chocolate for dipping, optional

Slice your orange peel into approximately 1/4" thick matchstick style strips, removing any pulp or exterior blemishes.
Once sliced, you should have roughly 2-2 1/2c of orange peel.

Combine orange peel and 3 cups of water in a medium saucepan.
Bring to a boil over medium high heat for 5 minutes.
Drain peels and water and repeat 2 more times.
This will soften the peels, making for a better texture and remove the bitterness.

Orange peels after boiling in sugar water.

Once final boil is complete, drain the peels.
Add 3 cups of water and 2.5cups of sugar to the saucepan.
Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved.
Add orange peels to the liquid, stir very gently to combine.
Return to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low.
Simmer peels for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until they become translucent
and liquid has thickened.

Using a slotted spoon, place peels in a strainer to drain.

*Reserve cooking liquid

Fill a shallow bowl with the extra 1/2 cup of sugar.
Using a pair of small plastic tongs or your fingers,
take about 1/4 cup of the candied peels and toss in the sugar.
Gently stir to coat, then remove from bowl.
Separate peels and carefully lay out on a drying rack or baking sheet lined with plastic wrap.
Repeat this process with the remainder of the peels.
 Allow to air dry for at least 12 hours.
The peels are ready to store once the coating is dry.
Store in an airtight container, keep at room temp or store in the freezer.
They will keep for at least 6 months.

*Save the reserved cooking liquid in a glass bottle/jar with a tight fitting lid. You have essentially made an orange-infused simple syrup. This is a great add in for cocktails.

Making dark chocolate covered candied orange peels:
To make this treat a wee bit more indulgent, coat your peels in dark chocolate.
Trust me, this extra step is worth it.
Once your candied peels have dried,
melt dark chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave.
Dip one end of sugared peel into the melted chocolate and place on a silpat
or baking sheet coated with plastic wrap to dry.
Store in the same way.
Candied orange peels, dipped in dark chocolate. Nothing wrong with that. 


  1. I just looked over all of your beautiful pictures again! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe! I had a lot of fun making these candies and I can't wait for them to finish drying out! I am totally going to take your suggestion to dip them in chocolate too! It's a must! Next on my "to make" list: Socca!!!

  2. Thank you, Laura! So glad you enjoyed making them!! The Socca is a much less labor intensive recipe than this one, but still pretty delicious!