Sunday, March 6, 2011

Oranges, Part I


Candied Orange Peels
(mostly) from David Lebovitz' "The Perfect Scoop"

2 large oranges (or citrus fruit of your choice), washed and scrubbed well
1 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for coating
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
pinch of salt

1. Remove strips of orange peel with a knife or vegetable peeler. Cut from pole to pole, creating long straight strips and trying to keep edges as smooth as possible. Gently scrape most of the white pith off of each peel (depending on how think you want your strips to be -- my first batch was too thin and became very brittle. Cut the peel into 1/8 inch match sticks (for curls) or into larger pieces for chunks.
2. Place the peels in a sauce pan and cover with an inch of water. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse well. Repeat this process twice more, using fresh water each time. This step helps remove the bitter taste from your orange peels. Some recipes recommend boiling for up to an hour, but I found 15 minutes to be sufficient.
3. Combine 1 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a non-reactive saucepan. Bring to a boil and add the blanched orange peel. Simmer as slowly as possible until the syrup reaches 230 degrees fahrenheit. This should take a good 20-30 minutes, if not longer. Watch the pot very carefully once your thermometer gets above 220. It will take a long time in the 212-220 range, and then reach 230 very quickly. I burnt my first batch because I wasn't watching it closely enough!
4. Let the peels cool in the syrup. You can then either store them in the syrup in the refrigerator, or you can sugar them. To sugar the peels, gently lift them out of the syrup with a fork, letting the excess syrup drain off. Separate the peels and lay them on wax paper. Let them dry out for 30 minutes. Toss the peels in granulated sugar, and let dry for another 30 minutes, or longer if they still feel sticky. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. I also hear these are pretty fantastic dipped in dark chocolate.


*Notes: I always recommend using a candy thermometer, as it takes the guess work out of cooking. They are very inexpensive and can be obtained at any cooking store, or even Walmart or Target. If you don't have one, however, just cook the peels until most of the syrup has boiled away and the peels look crystalized. The syrup will have just started to look foamy as it boils.

I also don't recommend halving this recipe unless you have a very small saucepan--use the same amount of syrup even if you have one orange. Otherwise there won't be enough syrup to cover the peels and you are in danger of it cooking too fast, or your thermometer not giving an accurate reading.

Apparently there is also great controversy over the *correct* way to make candied fruit. Some recipes claim it takes days to properly candy something, while others think it can be done in just an evening. Since I was experimenting anyway, I decided to try the quick method first, of course. It worked wonderfully! I do plan on trying the longer method at some point, though, for a proper scientific comparison. And of course, I'll have to test out a few more kinds of fruit... ;).  Have you tried candying anything? How did it turn out?


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