Candied/glazed citrus peel- perfection in confection

March 20, 2007 at 5:17 PM (dishes by cuisine, dishes by main ingredient, Greece, sugars-sweets, various citrus fruit)

For two days I have been trying to decide what recipe to honor as the first post here. It ought to be something Indian, obviously. Maybe something using elaichi? Yes, yes of course, I thought. I’ll make one of the more tedious and skill-requiring Indian sweets that’ll blow everyone away…if it turns out. Or perhaps a Parsi dish fragrantly splashed at the end with freshly-pounded cardamom and coriander leaves… Or shall I attempt a new recipe I’ve recently acquired and am eagerly waiting to try? It’s been a rough two days with these thoughts of a perfect primary post added to the list of worries already in my head. And it shouldn’t be. This is a place to unwind and take a few minutes to celebrate my interest and enjoyable toil in the kitchen!

On a moments-ago whim, I finally decided to post what I was currently working on. What a novel idea eh?  “Write what I’m familiar with…” is ringing in my head from somewhere. From someone. From where? From who? Ah! I know! Directly from the well-oiled mouth of a certain eccentric english professor I took a class or two from in my later high school years. He really was an oddball! Intelligent, kind, and brimming with wisdom that he earned along with his deeply-etched laugh lines, and spontaneous to the point of unbridaled hilarity in his classes; he loved teaching. He also loved to eat oranges when he was between classes. And to do this properly, he must have thought, one must sit on an office chair in the doorway of one’s classroom and chuck the peels at anyone who happened to be passing by. Oh, the janitors must have loved him dearly…those peels ended up all over the school from kids kicking them along the hallways like stones every time a class ended. I saw old “Doc” at the downtown “farmer’s”/open market a few years ago. He was sitting down, dressed in short pants with suspenders over a white shirt, feather in cap, gaily tooting a pennywhistle as a member of an Irish folk band… I had to close and open my eyes a few times to make sure my vision wasn’t deceiving me. It wasn’t. Not bad for near 90!

Every time I peel an orange I think of him. After that, I set thoughts of him aside and get back to business!

This confection can be made in several, but very similar ways, and there are recipes stretching from the middle east and outward. This particular method I adapted from a Greek recipe I found years ago, which worked better than others I had tried and I retain with few changes. In Greek this is known as “portokali glace”(glazed oranges); it is made with other citrus fruits as well. While often used as an ingredient in other Greek confections, it is also a sweet in its own right. I have found it quite elegant to serve with tea or coffee as an optional light sweetener, or to quietly relish between sips. If you’re clever about it, you can accomplish both! It can also be used to make cookies, cakes, and also to decorate cakes by either cutting the pieces after they are candied, or by using tiny cookie-cutters beforehand. Its list of uses is near endless, and I have my suspicions that it ends up in savory dishes as well…

This recipe also produces, as a by-product, a flavoured syrup when all is said and done. This need not be discarded. I am sure that, with a little imagination, an excellent use could be found! After all, isn’t it nice to know that all of those citrus peels don’t need to be chucked down the hallway?




 Candied Citrus Peels

a quantity of citrus peels

white sugar

cold water

light/white corn syrup OR fructose crystals(optional)

1)Prepare the peels: rinse the exterior coloured zest well. With a sharp knife, remove any traces of fruit pulp and membrane from the interior and discard, but leave the white part of the peel fairly intact, more or less. Cut the peel into half-inch (one cm) strips.

2)Remove the bitterness: place prepared peels in a sauce-pan and cover with cold water. Over medium heat, bring to boil. Immediately drain. Repeat this procedure 2 more times for most citrus fruits(3x total); for pomelos, grapefruit and thick-skinned oranges, repeat this 3 more times(4x total). This procedure removes most of the bitter flavour in the peel.

3)Soften the peels: cover the peels once again with cold water and bring to boil, but this time lower the heat and simmer 45 minutes. Drain.

4)Add the required amount of syrup: take the softened peels and replace in the pan. Now, you’ll have to guage yourself how much syrup (sugar and water) you will need, as the final volume has many variables depending on what type of fruit you are using, what variety, and how much peel remains after cleaning. I suggest adding sugar and water of the correct ratio in steps. This ratio is 2:1 sugar to water. So, for every cup of sugar, you will add one-half cup of water. Add enough so that, after the sugar is dissolved, the peels move quite freely. Then, for every cup of sugar that you have added, add 1 T of corn syrup(or 3 t granular fructose). This ingredient is optional, but it gives a better texture to the final product.

5)Glazing the peels: over medium heat, bring the peels, sugar and water to a boil. Adjust syrup if necessary, and boil 10 minutes. Turn off heat, and, when the bubbling stops, cover the pan and let it stand for 24 hours.

  Do this twice more(3x total), bringing it to boil for 10 minutes and then letting it stand for 24 hours.

6)Finishing: after the last resting period is finished, gently heat the mixture once again to liquify the now-thick syrup. Pour the contents through a wire sieve, collecting the syrup that drains and using it elsewhere. Let the peels drain for 6-8 hours, turning now and then with a spoon for the first hour to allow the syrup to run off.

7)Drying and storing: take the now-candied peels(they should be fairly translucent and beautiful in sunlight) and spread them on waxed or parchment paper to dry the surfaces for a day or two, turning once or twice. If you have a fine wire rack, this is all the easier(easier on the eco-system as well). Store in a sealed container at room temperature, or, if you like, these can be dusted with granulated white sugar before storing, as I have done, to keep them from sticking together.



  1. bee said,

    welcome to food blogging, and thanks for a great recipe.

    Bee, thank you- nice to see you here; i’m sure you’ll find uses for it!

  2. Anita said,

    Good opening recipe! I have always wanted to have access to this ingredient, not so common in this part of the world. I could use lemon-peel too, right? And what about ginger – similar process should work?

    I’ve booked a sill-batta as a ‘blog-warming’ gift. 🙂

    Lemon peel works quite well for this, and the colour is astoundingly beautiful! There actually is a different method, though with some similarities, for ginger… I’ll be posting the recipe for this soon, but I’ll send you the recipe in advance because I hear beautiful fresh ginger is in the markets in abundance right now! 😀

    You’ve booked a sill-batta as a gift? A thousand words of thanks! 😉

  3. Manisha said,

    Sounds really yum, Pel! Will give it a shot soon, now that I have light corn syrup. I had no use for it – till now – but Medha forced me to buy it on Saturday as she needed it to make fake blood. I now have a whole container full of fake blood in my garage. I am not allowed to throw it away! Well, my dear husband had never heard of this idea of corn syrup so as soon as we emerged from the store, he opened the bottle to add it to some really sour lemonade I’d made – it was 75F here – you know! And then he couldn’t help himself – he took a sip – yes a whole sip – of the corn syrup. I stood there just not believing what I was seeing! I mean have you ever seen anyone ‘drink’ light corn syrup?! Medha and I were picking our jaws off the warm tarmac! He felt really sick after that…

    Yeah, most uses of corn syrup revolve around candy-making, but some people douse their buttermilk pancakes with it. I prefer maple syrup….or strawberries and whipped cream.

    Wow! Your hubby has a sweet tooth! Or is he also one of those guys that eat whole chiles with a smile on their face on a dare…sounds like he keeps you and Medha entertained! What’s all in the fake blood? I don’t remember seeing that recipe on your site…

  4. shilpa said,

    Thats a very nice first recipe :). Very well presented. Keep it up.

    Do I still have permission to post your recipes on my blog?

    Thanks Shilpa! I’m so happy to see you left a comment here. Yours was the first food blog I ever visited, and its nice to have your “blessing”!

    Of course you may post them! Life is too short for me to hoard recipes… 🙂

  5. Manisha said,

    He has a sweet tooth but in this case, he couldn’t wait to find out what this thick syrup tasted like so in it went! Fake blood? You don’t want the recipe. *Everything* is sticky. The floor, the doorknobs, the faucets, the dishwasher door…

    I bought some candied ginger over the weekend, too. Is the process similar? OK, so I looked up into your replies and see that you will be posting that soon. Go on then!

    You lost your chance with Shilpa there. 😉 She’s a wonderful cook and her dates cake is wonderfully moist and delectable, without being overly sweet. You could have got that and more in the mail…tch!

    it sounds like a murder scene at your home! Clean it up before the pleece ossifers come! 🙂

    Candied/crystallized/stem ginger is similar….gosh that’s two of you now…I guess I have too…I admit it’s excellent and far more thrifty to make your own!

    Yeah, Shilpa IS a great cook…..oh drat! You’re right, I could have gotten her entire collection from her aayi and pachi if I had played my cards right…. and then published a rare Konkani cookbook!

    Honestly, I do hope that someday she compiles all of her inherited recipes into a book. So very little is known of this cuisine in the west; I know it would be treasured in my collection! Certainly the bloggers could come together for promoting it to the right audience…

  6. Manisha said,

    I definitely would! Come forward to promote her book, that is – but I will need a lifetime’s supply of her dates cake, her chivda, her crab curry and several other dishes. 😀

    Ginger is currently 99 cents/lb at the Asian markets and the Indian stores. So get cracking, bud! I bought a ton this weekend!

    Yeah……[screws up his face and attempts thought for a few seconds] I think I’d have to demand a lifetime suppy of her aayi’s pickles- an assortment of course….and those madhur vadas, gosh I’ve been getting cravings for those lately [loses himself for a few seconds thinking of them] Where was I? Oh…ginger………99 a pound?! hmmm…..and you want the crystallized ginger/GINGER ALE recipe you say? …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………Hand over that last batch of lime pickles babe!

  7. shilpa said,

    Ohh Pelicano and Manisha, you guys made my day :). I will definitely give you a complimentary copy of my book whenever I publish it ;). I hope you both will give good reviews about it :D. Btw, I always crib that I don’t have any friends here for whom I can cook and serve. I would be very very happy if I can cook and serve for you :). Thanks a million

    Shilpa- you deserve every happiness that comes along, and in this year ahead, I wish for you many wondrous and amazing things to cross your path!

    Free book eh? I’ll buy four more then! Seriously, when you publish your book and have book signings at a book store, I would drive to Kansas to pick up my 5 copies!(it isn’t that far from Wisconsin) But be sure to have curd-rice and pickles handy! 😀

  8. nandita said,

    Found ya! Your name does seem so familar because you are a regular in some of my favourite blogs…Elaichi etcetra is indeed a very fine name for a blog, has a nice ring to it…Cya around and happy blogging…this is a great first post!

    Thank you for the compliment Nandita! I love the name of yours as well, but I’m content to be the “second most expensive spice” 🙂 Be sure to stop by any time!

  9. Coffee said,

    Hey….. Came blog hopping over here…… Nice recipe there and cool name for a blog!!!!! Welcome to the world of blogging!!! 🙂

    Mulfabalek kave! I appreciate the warm reception; hop on over anytime!

  10. Manisha said,

    Unfortunately the lime pickle is finito. Will make more this summer. Can’t we settle on an IOU/promissory note kind of thing? You do the ginger thing and I will send you the lime pickle when it’s ready 😀 What say?

    Well….let me think about it now[slurps his coffee, scratches his head, raises an eyebrow…] 😀

  11. Aruna said,

    Gr8 Pel. I wondered how one makes candied fruits. I pur candied ginger on Monday from Safeway and paid a good amount for a pound. Well presented, detailed in an easy way. Nice picture too.

    Aruna, thank you…. I think vendors charge too much for these, and they are often of poor quality. This recipe will give you fine candied oranges, lemons, grapefruit, limes, tangerines, pomelos, key limes, kalamansi limes, kaffir limes, bitter oranges(these would possibly be the best), blood oranges, and on into near infinty with varieties of citrus fruits….. did I mention temple oranges? temple oranges… clementines 😀
    Candied ginger is made differently. I’ll be posting a fancy recipe soon, but I’ll send you the basic one. It is so easy that you will never pay those high prices again!

  12. mathy said,

    I bought lots of lemons over the week-end. well.. 15 limes@ 1 dollar was not too bad. Was planning to make Manisha’s no-oil pickle. Some of them would be made to limeades. this will continue through out summer. didnt want to waste those lime peels. I just love the smell. Now, I’ve a good recipe to try. Got a question, though:
    //3)Soften the peels: cover the peels once again with cold water and bring to boil, but this time lower the heat and simmer 45 minutes. Drain.//
    Can I pressure cook them? What do you think?
    Thanks Pel.

    Mathy…I’m not really sure about pressure-cooking; true, it would save time for that ONE step…but then again, the higher heat might turn them to mush…..worth a try though if you have peels to spare! 🙂 The long, syrup-infusing process that comes afterward must be done in the regular way though…needs the open kettle to evaporate water off each time.

    Either way, it’s not a quick process, as it takes a few days to complete….just a slow, ritualistic side-project…the green of candied lime-peels is beautiful though, I must say!

  13. When Life Gives You Limes… « A Mad Tea Party said,

    […] turn a pale yellow. Allow to cool. Remove the peels. Discard, or process further to make your own candied peels! Add sugar to the infusion and bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Let boil for 5 minutes. Cool […]

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