To eek out every bit of immune- and mood-boosting goodness from sunny citrus, candy your leftover peels. You’ll get the sweet treat of your peels and a bonus batch of citrus syrup you can use to flavor drinks, soak cakes and more!
You can use any kind of citrus peel; pictured here is a mix of tangerines, mandarins, and navel oranges. Because you’re eating the outermost (usually discarded) part of the fruit, be sure the citrus is unwaxed and pesticide-free. Perhaps you have a large volume of citrus peels left from a juice-extravaganza, eager for a second life. Or you can save peels up over a few weeks or months: every time you finish a citrus fruit, throw the peels in a bag in the freezer, removing any clinging fruit from the peels before you do so. I candy a batch once I’ve got a plump sandwich bag-full in my freezer, but you can adapt this recipe to any amount of peel.
The peels and the citrus syrup keep for months in the fridge in airtight containers. You can impress surprise guests by setting these peels out for a nibble, (once it is safe to have people over), or you can chop the peels to use in baking. Give the peels as a thoughtful, handmade gift in a glass jar or wrapped in parchment paper and tied with ribbon. Add the citrus syrup to iced coffee, fruity tea, or cocktails, or use it to soak cakes or desserts in the baklava family. You could even drizzle it on yogurt or vanilla ice cream.
Chocolate any kind, optional
- Blanche citrus peels in boiling water, drain, blanche again in fresh water, and drain again. This removes bitterness from the pith. For very thick peels, boil for 5-10 minutes each time.
- Estimate the volume of your peels if you were to squish them down as compact as possible. In a pot, add that same volume each of water and granulated sugar to your peels, so you have (by volume) 1 part peel, 1 part water, and 1 part sugar. Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Let cool.
- Remove peels from syrup and set out for 12-24 hours to dry. This works best on a wire rack set over wax or parchment paper, but if you don’t have a rack you can rest the peels on the parchment or wax paper directly and turn the peels a few times as they dry. Transfer the syrup to an airtight, glass jar and store in the fridge.
- When the peels are tacky but not syrupy to the touch, slice them into strips and toss in more sugar.
- Optional: To turn your work from candied peels to orangettes: melt chocolate in the microwave, stirring every 10 seconds. Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Take a strip of candied peel and dip in the melted chocolate. Place dipped peels onto the wax paper and place in freezer for 10 minutes, or until chocolate hardens. Remove from wax paper and store in an airtight container in your fridge.