Candied Citrus Appeal

Lemons, oranges, tangerines: The rinds of almost any citrus fruit can be transformed into sparkling, delectable treats.

By Denise Gee


How to make candied citrus peelsSelect the Fruit

  • Since most pesticide residue is found in the skin, its important to use organic fruit when making candied peel.
  • The sweetest citrus fruits—‘Meyer’ lemons, clementines, ‘Minneola’ tangelos, pomelos, honey tangerines—yield the sweetest candy.
  • Tarter fruits can also be sweetened, but it helps to have a taste for their slight bitterness. Though I’ve never been a grapefruit fan, I was surprised by the sweetness of the locally grown grapefruit peel I candied.

Peel and Trim

There are two main ways to peel the fruit:

  • For small batches of thin strips or curls for garnishes, use a vegetable peeler.
  • For bigger strips or to make other shapes, such as diamonds or triangles, cut the fruit in quarters. Cut away the fruit to eat later, and use a spoon or knife to scrape off as much of the white pith as possible (see photos above and opposite, top). More pith can remain on sweeter fruit (it absorbs the syrup well and provides a nice color and texture contrast); for tarter fruit, get as much off as possible without breaking through the fruit skin.
  • Cut quarters into 3⁄4-to-1-inch-wide strips about 1⁄8 to 1⁄4 inch thick, or into shapes as desired.

B&B = Boil & Blanch

To tenderize the fruit peels, remove bitterness, and concentrate flavor, place the peels in the saucepan and add enough water to fully cover them while allowing them room to move when boiling. (For every 3 cups of loosely packed peels, I used 6 cups of water.)

For already-sweet citrus peels: The one-step b&b method. Cover peels with water as directed above, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until peels are tender and almost translucent. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes. Carefully pour the peels into a colander to drain, then douse with cold water before plunging the colander into the ice-water bath to stop the cooking process and help the peels keep their shape. Remove the colander and set aside to drain.

For tart peels: You’ll need to use a three-step b&b method to remove any hint of bitterness. Cover peels with water as directed above but let them boil only 5 minutes before draining and blanching. Repeat this process two times, using fresh water for boiling and fresh ice water each time, until the peels are slightly translucent and tender. Taste for any residual bitterness (which may be the case with grapefruit); if need be, boil and blanch once or twice more until the bitterness is removed, but don’t overdo it or the peels will be tasteless. Drain.