In my continuing task to use or preserve the oranges that we’ve collected from our Abel & Cole box I decided to try candying orange peel. This is the sort of thing I would usually stay well away from, it just seems too fiddly and will I actually ever use the candied oranges? Or will they just waste away, staring at me mournfully every time I open the fridge?
After some research I could see it’s not a difficult process it just needs a little time. There are lots of recipes around and in the end I settled for this recipe on Leite’s Culinaria by Carole Bloom. I had 8 small and slightly dodgy looking oranges to use and I didn’t have any orange liqueur so I used brandy instead because, well why not?
To make the candied orange peel, you cut the oranges up into fine slices, with some flesh attached, this stops the pith becoming too bitter. You then boil them for 5 minutes 3 times, each time refreshing the water and heating it from cold. Then you remove any leftover flesh, which is a bit of a faff, before mixing them with the sugar and brandy and cooking for an hour and a half over a low heat to allow them to fully soften and absorb all the sugar.
A couple of my orange’s had really thin skin purely because they were old, but by the end of the third 5 minute boil you couldn’t tell which of the peel was from these oranges as they’d really bulked out. I was worried that the oranges being old was going to be a problem, but actually I think this is a great way to use up any oranges that have been forgotten about and have got a bit ropey.
I rolled the cooked peel, hot out of the pan, in sugar which gives them a crunch. I did this in batches so some of the peel cooked for longer, meaning the syrup turned into more of a caramel giving the later peels a bit more of a snap. Both the softer and the more carmelised peel is really tasty, but it’s something to be aware of if you want them all to be the same consistency, you’d need to tip them all out of the pan at once, which I can imagine being quite messy and would probably waste a lot of sugar, something I tried to avoid. I’ve been keeping these in a tub in the fridge and The Boy & I keep stealing a couple whenever we fancy something sweet, so I needn’t have worried about them going to waste. I think they’re also going to make great cake decoration, perhaps combined with a certain blood orange curd.
I’ve already been thinking about these for this year’s Christmas presents, perhaps cooked down with spices in the brandy syrup then dipped in dark chocolate. April’s a bit early for this really isn’t it? I’d better make a note of it somewhere and come back to it later in the year.