Making homemade candied peel always seems like a faff. However, peel candied at home has a delightfully fragrant and aromatic flavour and bears absolutely no resemblance to the shop-bought stuff. It is the secret ingredient to everything baked at Christmas, from the pudding to mincemeat and fruit cake. You’ll also find yourself using it in all sorts of unexpected ways; decorating a fancy Christmas cocktail, the magic in gingerbread, folded into florentines or winter fruit salad…
The hassle is peeling the fruit, but the peel easily comes away if you score the skin into quarters. You can also scrape away any extra pith after the first quick boil. It’s then just a matter of a gentle simmer in simple sugar syrup and leaving the peel to dry out. The result is a tutti-fruity mouthful of winter sunshine.
Reaping the benefits of my obsessive citrus planting, I’m choosing homegrown tangerines, grapefruit, lemons, pomelo and oranges, but oranges and lemons will do just fine. Try and go for organic; if not, wash the fruit under warm water and gently scrub to remove any wax. Equally, don’t throw away the sugar syrup – fantastic in many baking recipes. The peel stores in an airtight jar for a month; ensure it’s sterilised and thoroughly dried. The drying process can take up to two days, so plan ahead.
I am using everything I made this year, but if I get time, I will make another batch of chocolate candied oranges or orangettes (famous on the south coast of France around Aix en Provence).