Friday, November 9, 2012

Christmas Hamper Project # 1: Candied Peel

Candied peel is a store cupboard essential for this time of year - we've got the Christmas cake coming up, mince pies, possibly a Christmas pudding as well as all manner of fruity cakes and buns in between that will require this versatile ingredient. You can buy it in the supermarket but why not make it yourself? Make it bigger and better!

I like to make my own candied peel because I can choose the very best organic sugar and fruit, I can make a big batch to last the Winter and it looks pretty in a preserving jar on the shelf. When you open the jar the sweet citrus aroma will knock your socks off!. It can also very easily be turned into a delicious and special sweetmeat! Nearer Christmas I'll be creating chocolate dipped peel as an item for the Christmas hampers. This is a great thing to have on standby over the festive period to take as a little present if you find youselves invited to any last minute festive gatherings!

To make one big batch - approx 1kg (halve the recipe for a smaller 500g yeild): Recipe from

4 lemons
4 oranges
2 pink grapefruit
4 limes
1,200g caster sugar (plus more for coating)

1) Scrub the fruit thoroughly. Slice off the top and bottom of each fruit then cut the peel in wide strips, from top to bottom, making sure that the pith remains attached to the skin. It will make the peel far more succulent once candied. Place each variety of peel in a separate pan, fill with cold water and boil until soft. Depending on your fruit, this can take up to 90 minutes. Keep the water replenished with a freshly boiled kettle.

2) Drain and place all the peel in one saucepan. Cover with cold water, bring up to the boil and cook for a further 20 minutes before draining.

3) Meanwhile dissolve the granulated sugar in 300ml water in a large thick-bottomed saucepan over a low heat. Bring up to the boil and gently stir in the peel. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the peel has absorbed virtually all the syrup. You should allow 2 hours 45 minutes for this.

4) Lightly oil a grill rack and line it with greaseproof paper. Arrange the peel in a single layer on the rack to enable it to dry. If possible, put in a warm place, like an airing cupboard. Allow 3 to 4 days to dry, turning over twice during this time, to allow both sides to dry. It is very sticky. Once it its dry, store in an airtight jar. Snip into smaller pieces as and when you need it.

After the peel had dried for a few days I dipped mine in caster sugar to make it look pretty!

I found that the lime peel was much tougher than the rest and needed a little more boiling to soften the skin. The grapefruit peel is super moist and succulent! Even through all that sugar you can still taste some of the bitterness - delicious! The orange and lemon peel taste beautiful on their own - it almost seems a shame to bake them into a cake!

Next I'll be using the candied peel to make some lovely mincemeat - both for the store cupboard and for the hampers, enjoy!

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