Cooking From Scratch: Candied orange peels an easy, sweet holiday treat

Amidst the flurry of sugar cookies and peanut butter balls that get made over the holiday season, I always find a few moments to sneak in a batch of what is perhaps my favorite Christmas candy of all: candied orange peels.

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Candied orange peels

Often sold in specialty shops ― Au Marche in downtown Lawrence makes delicious ones ― candied orange peels are a refreshing, citrus-y nibble to go along with a bout of gift wrapping. They're also pretty enough to decorate the tops of holiday cakes and cookies.

Lastly, if you dip them in melted chocolate, you'll have a whole different treat ― a French “orangette”. Truly, candied orange peels are amazing any way you want to consume them!

The recipe below, which I've been making for years now, is forgiving and easy to scale. The only absolute rule is that you must make them on a dry day for the sugar to dry properly. This makes frosty December afternoons perfect, as any humidity in the air will be frozen.

If you make a big batch of candied orange peels, you're going to have a lot of oranges left to eat. I suggest popping open another winter fruit — the pomegranate — and mixing the two over crisp butter lettuce to make what we call “Christmas Salad”.

Candied Orange Peels

Oranges, satsumas or clementines

Sugar

Water

Using a vegetable peeler or a sharp paring knife, peel the oranges. Try to get all the orange part of the peel, but as little of the white pith as possible. Add the orange peels to a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil.

Once the peels are boiling, carefully pour out the water, reserving the peels. Repeat this boiling step ― with fresh changes of water ― three times. This will get rid of any remaining bitterness in the orange peels.

On the fourth time, add just enough water to cover the oranges. Whatever amount of water you add, double that amount to figure out how much sugar you need. For example, if you use 1 cup of water, use 2 cups of sugar. Add the sugar to the pot and bring to a boil again, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Boil the orange peels in the sugar and water until the peels start to look translucent. Then, remove the peels to a piece of waxed paper or a baking rack. Let them dry for just a few minutes, then dip them in fresh sugar to coat. (I typically fill a Tupperware bowl with sugar, add a few peels at a time, put the lid on, and shake.)

Leave the orange peels in a cool, dry place for a few hours. Once they're dry, they can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a month or more.

— Meryl Carver-Allmond lives in Lawrence and writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography, and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day at mybitofearth.net.

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