Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Citrus Skinny

Ye gads, I hated candied peel when I was a child. I used to beg my mother to keep it out of the fruit cakes she made, but she put it in anyway. I remember once spending hours removing all the horrid, bitter little cubes from my piece of Christmas cake and piling them up on the side of my plate. Unfortunately, before I could get them to the bin my father saw and made me eat them, muttering something about wastefulness.

I was in my thirties before I discovered that candied peel didn't have to be vile. It didn't have to come pre-chopped in plastic tubs, and when it didn't it was delicious. It was also expensive, and required a trip to the city to procure. When we were earning I happily made the trip, but my second peel revelation was that it is easy to make. Not only that, it makes you house smell like luxury-end scented candles. The sort with names like Citrus Noir.
So, as Christmas isn't itself without mince pies, and mince pies aren't themselves without candied peel, today I made some:

First, peel your fruits: I used two oranges, a satsuma, a lemon and a lime.

De-pith: a scalpel is perfect for this, so much easier than a kitchen knife.

And it allows you to get them really thin.

Put your now skinny rinds in a pan of cold water, bring to the boil, drain, cover in more cold water, bring to the boil and drain again. The recipe I have recommends you do this three times, but I get bored and haven't noticed cutting it down to twice makes any difference whatsoever.

Place in a saucepan in which you have heated 1 1/2 cups of sugar together with 1 cup of water. Bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer, and leave to cook for about 45 minutes. Don't be tempted to stir.

Arrange on waxed paper to dry.

I was hoping that they'd have dried out enough to make the pie filling today, too, but no. I think I may have used too much water in the syrup. As for the syrup, don't chuck it: faintly citrusy, it's wonderful for Christmas cocktails.


angryparsnip said...

What a great post and I love your tutorial on how to make the peel, much better than Martha's.

I love candied peel and with all my citrus trees I need a way to use up the fruit.
Daughter stared making candied peel with grapefruit. She makes huge batches and send it to Japan for New Years. It is the most requested gift. She slices all the peel in thin strips and before drying she sugars them.
Last year the left over syrup was so thick, sweet and tasty we added it to the fresh grapefruit, orange juice even Prosecco.

Thanks for letting us into your Christmas week. I feel like I am in your kitchen. ( smells great !) What kind of pie do you make with candied peel ?

cheers, parsnip

Kass said...

What a treat to learn the methods of candied peel. I never thought about its origins. I just took it for granted as I chomped into my fruitcake.

I love the imagined smells I'm getting from your posts. If this is where bitchiness gets you in the kitchen, perhaps I should consider assertiveness training.

Eryl said...

Parsnip ~ haven't tried grapefruit peel, but I love grapefruit so must.

Pie day tomorrow, so all will be revealed.

Kass ~ I hadn't thought about it either, it took a trip to Italy to spark a thought process that resulted, 20 years later, in me seeking out a recipe. That's how slow I am.

Alesa Warcan said...

Food porn! : j
I don't really make or bake anything calling for actual peels, and when I do I just use zest for flavour.
But this post might make me reconsider.

I had an aunt who always had big jars of candied peels stashed on top her cupboards... I think she made some every year and hardly ever used it... She just loved the smell, and so the jars accumulated over the years. : j

NanU said...

Ahaaaa, something to do tomorrow evening while testing my first ever try at eggnog...

Scarlet Blue said...

I love the smell, but I've been put off for life.... I have very similar childhood memories.
Happy Christmas!

The Weaver of Grass said...

I no longer either buy or make this, mainly because I just cannot resist it - it never gets into anything other than my mouth! Happy Christmas.

Linnhe Mara said...

Can't say I'm a lover of candied peel either ( I don't even have marmalade with bits in) but this might just turn me into a convert.

Can I also say once again that you looked ab fab on Sunday

The World According To Me said...

Good tips! Hope you your Christmas has real zest!

Lulu LaBonne said...

These do look sooo beautiful, I'm not a candied peel fan but think I'll make some of that gorgeousness and turn it into Yule bunting

Eryl said...

Alesa ~ so many aspects of the English/Scottish festive banquet call for candied pee that it's hard to get away from it here at this time of year. Zest is a good alternative, though, and I probably only make this for its porn element.

Nanu ~ do let us know how your eggnog turns out.

Scarlie! hello, hope you're well. Factories have a lot to answer for. Happy Christmas to you too, X

Weaver ~ I know exactly how you feel! Happy Christmas to you, too.

Linnhe ~ thank you! Shop bought marmalade with bits in is ghastly, so I always thought I didn't like it until my mother-in-law made her own one year, it was divine. But if, like my sister, you just don't like things that stick to your teeth you won't like this. I could bring you a piece over, I'm going to dip the leftovers in dark chocolate, for you to try.

Worldy ~ thank you, same to you!

Lulu ~ it would look great as bunting. I might make some more for just that.

Rachel Fox said...

Sounds yummy. In fact Xmas at yours sounds yummy all round!

rochambeau said...

Dear Eryl,
Your citrus peel looks like little works of art! I've never make it before, but will try now.

Like you, as a child I despised citron! As an adult I like it.

Hope you have a delicious and very Merry Christmas and holiday~


Thanks for sharing your method and photos too!

Pat said...

Who knew they would be so photogenic and I can imagine the delicious aromas.

Eryl said...

Rachel~ it wasn't always so, but thirty years of Christmas cooking and I feel I'm getting there.

Constance ~ they are very pretty aren't they? They darken a bit as they dry and turn frosted looking, but still lovely.

Pat ~ who indeed.

Carole said...

I am so excited. This sounds very yummy but the thought of how good the house will smell...I must try it.

Eryl said...

It is worth making them for the smell alone.