Candied Orange Peels

December 24, 2008

 

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Some festive holiday recipe action from Sarah Blake, R.G.S.

Once again, Sarah Neuburger comes through. She posted her own candy-making experience here, which is where I got the idea to make them. And so now, I share with you my own candy-making experience.

I am actually making these things right now!! As we speak! Or, I guess, as I write. Some simmering action is happening. It will be happening for quite some time, so I figured I might as well post now. This is also the sort of dish where you set out to make 1 thing, and end up with three equally delicious treats.

Necessary Food Items

3 oranges. You can use more, or less, depending on how big your oranges are and how many folks you wanna serve.
2-4 cups water. The specific amount will depend on how much peel you have.
2-4 cups of sugar. Again, dependent on how much peel you have, but you want a 1:1 ratio of water to sugar.
+at least 1 cup extra for later
Some extra water that you will use for boiling, but which will get discarded and not end up in the recipe.

Nice things, not necessarily necessary

1/4 tsp vanilla extract, peppermint extract
OR
some cloves, cinnamon sticks, or other spicy spices.
3 oz chocolate

Ok, so there are you deliciously wonderful ingredients. You can already tell we are off to a good start, can’t you. I can. Damn.

Because I love lists so incredibly much, I’m going to put the directions into list form (this will also allow me to show off my MAD HTML skills. Or rather, SKILLZ!)

  1. Take a small knife and cut into the orange peel. Slice it from the top to the bottom, 6 places or so, evenly spaced. Don’t cut into the actual orange, if you can help it (the juice escaping will make later steps more difficult). Gently peel the strips off by hand.
  2. Cut the strips into thinner strips. Don’t cut them TOO thin — about a quarter of an inch should work just fine.
  3. With your kuhniffy (aka the proper pronunciation of “knife,” according to my mother. Accent on the “niff”), scrape the pith (white shit on the inside) off the peels. You might be thinking, “Why would I do that now, instead of when I first cut it off, thus not having to do as many?” Why, indeed. It SEEMS like a less efficient way, but it is easier to get the pith off the small pieces than to get it off the big pieces, thus saving you much frustration. Plus it really doesn’t take that long. You won’t be able to get off ALL the white shit, but get off as much as you can without also slicing your fingers off.
    The best way to do it is to hold the strip at one end and half scrape, half slice from the middle to the other end. Flip around and repeat. You probably will break some, but whatever, that just means you’ll have more little itty bitty pieces to munch on that you can’t wrap and give to people as gifts, because they aren’t attractive enough. Aren’t I clever?
  4. Put the peels in a sauce pan and cover with cool water. Bring to a boil. Leave it boiling for a minute or two, and then drain it. Then do it again. AND again. And again. One more time for good measure. (That’s 5 times for those of you who can’t count).
    The best way to do this is to dump it all into a colander, then stick it back into the pot. Rinse out the colander in between each drainage: some of the excess pith will have come off, and you want to get as much of that loose stuff OUT as possible.
  5. After the last time, let the peels sit in the drain for a while. Combine the water and sugar in the pan you were using (no reason to dirty more dishes — give it a quick rinse first, though). Boil the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it’s clear. We call this concoction “simple syrup.” Which you should know already. If you don’t, for shame.
    1. While your syrup is working its way up to a boil, spread your peels out on a towel, made of paper or fabric, and then use another towel to pat them dry. Don’t smush them too much, just get some of the excess water out.
    2. This is where you would put in any sort of spices or oils you want to flavor your candy with. Keep in mind, though, that you will probably want to keep this syrup and use it in drinks or something, so don’t put in any weird shit.
  6. Once your syrup has boiled, add the peels. Turn the heat down super duper low, and let it simmer for about an hour, or until the peels are translucent. (This is where I am now, and you can also make orange juice or something while that’s happening. Go down a bit to see some tips on post-peeling juicing. Also, be aware that this project takes a lot of clean-up, especially of counters and utensils, so you can start doing that now. At least, that’s what I’d do. You know, if I weren’t sitting here writing a blog post.)
  7. Once the lovely little things are translucent, scoop ‘em on out. Use a slotted spoon, since you want to save that syrup. Spread the peels out on (a) a cookie sheet or two lined with parchment paper, or (b) wire racks, which are placed on top of a cookie sheet or two lined with parchment paper. B is probably the better option, but if you are like me, you don’t HAVE wire racks. So. You know. You gotta do whatcha gotta do.
  8. This is another place where you have options, depending on how much time you want to spend and whether or not you have ants. Ideally, you would leave the peels out to dry overnight. If you can’t do that, take a paper towel or two and dab them dry as best you can. You want them to be dry enough so that the sugar (next step) will not melt into the syrup.
  9. Put that extra sugar in a bowl or a plate or something, put your peels in there, and roll them about! Put them back on the parchment or wire rack, and let them sit for at LEAST half an hour. Then pack ‘em up.

ALTERNATIVELY:
Dip those suckers in some chocolate. Drizzle it on, too. Make it look pretty.

As for melting the chocolate, just stick it in the microwave for a minute. Take it out, mix it up a bit with a fork or something (fork is useful for later drizzling). Put it back in for 10-15 seconds if it didn’t melt enough. You can use pastilles or chips (chips are cheaper, but usually of a lesser quality. I particularly like Guittard chocolate pastilles). You can use whatever type of chocolate you like, but I would personally use semi-sweet (or, if you are going the fancy way, 55% dark). Darker would be delicious too, I’m sure. I’m not a big fan of milk or white chocolate with Orange. If you are doing lemon or lime or grapefruit peels, you might want to go for white chocolate or a milk chocolate instead, to contrast the tartness.

When you are done with the chocolate, leave the peels on the parchment paper, and stick your cookie sheet in the fridge. Let it sit there for a while, then take it out and pack it up all pretty.

What Am I Supposed to do with ALL THIS SYRUP?!?!

A very valid question. Find a container that will hold it all, will pour easily, and has a secure lid. A jar or an old wine/liquor bottle will work well. Get a funnel. Put it in the bottle. Get a wire strainer. Put it on the funnel. Pour away! The strainer will catch the bits of pith and peel that came off during cooking! The syrup will have a very nice, light orange flavor — good for tea (hot or iced) and mixed drinks that have orange things in them. It will keep well on the shelf, but if you are not big on sweetener, you can store it in the fridge and it will last even longer!

Making Juice When The Dang Orange is Already Peeled

It’s not my favorite thing in the world. Here are some tips:

-Wear some protective goggles. Squirting is inevitable. I got orange juice all over my forehead, actually. My bangs are..sticky.

-Go section by section.

-Use your paring knife to cut through the section’s membrane before sticking it on the little juicer thing. This will greatly reduce the squirt risk.

Of course, you COULD just, you know, juice it first and then use the peels. If you do that, just be careful not to fuck up the peels.

OK that ends this one. Until next time…
.Sarah Blake, R.G.S.

(posted by Lily)

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