Homemade Candied Orange Peel for Breads, Cookies and Cakes

There are some traditional Christmas breads, cookies and cakes that call for candied citrus peels.  It is so easy to make–why buy it from the grocery store when you can make it in about an hour at home?!  Don’t get me wrong.  There are versions that make confection-grade candied peel.  That is time-intensive and a bit more challenging.  Instead, what I’m talking about is candied peels for use in baked goods.  All you need to do is simmer some peel in a sugar syrup for a while.  It’s as easy as that.

 

I’ve had the most luck with orange peel using this method.  Lemon peel is more challenging because it can taste nasty from the bitterness if not candied correctly.  I’m limiting this post to candied orange peel.  I’ll save lemon peel for another day.

First, you need to have some peel on hand to work with!  I saved the peels from navel oranges we ate over the course of a couple of days in a jar covered in water until I had peels from about 5 oranges.  This helps get the peels soft so that they are easier to cut up.

For use in baking, you usually need cubes of peel, so when I am ready to get going with making candied peel, I drain the jar full of peel and cut up the peels into strips and then into small, 1 cm x 1 cm cubes.

You need to get the bitterness out from the peel, so put the cubed peel in a saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil.  Drain.  Repeat this step 3 or 4 times.

Next, it’s time to prepare a sugar syrup.  You can go two routes at this point.  You can bring the sugar syrup with the peels to a boil and then simmer both together, or you can heat the sugar syrup separately until the syrup reaches the soft ball stage, and then add in the peels.  I’ve done it both ways and honestly do not see the difference, at least if you just need the peel to add to cake or cookies (or German stollen for that matter).  This time around, I decided to try out being a candy-maker, so I heated the sugar syrup first to 238°F.

When the right temperature was reached, I added in the orange peel cubes.  I turned down the heat and simmered the peel for nearly half an hour–until the peel was soft and translucent.  Only about a tablespoon of syrup was left.  I transferred the cubes to a parchment-lined wire rack and let them cool to room temperature.

I then stored the candied peel in a jar and put it in the refrigerator to be doubly sure that it won’t spoil since I wasn’t going to use it immediately.  Probably overkill, but I get paranoid when it comes to food spoilage.

The first stop for this candied peel was to add it to gingerbread!

Print Recipe
Candied Orange Peel for Use in Baking
(This recipe is for candied peel for use in baked goods, such as cookies, spice cakes, quick breads, gingerbread, stollen, and babka.)
Course Basics
Cook Time 1 hr
Servings
cups
Ingredients
  • 5 medium navel oranges (to make 3 1/2 cups chopped peel)
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 7/8 cup water
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup or honey
Course Basics
Cook Time 1 hr
Servings
cups
Ingredients
  • 5 medium navel oranges (to make 3 1/2 cups chopped peel)
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 7/8 cup water
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup or honey
Instructions
  1. Quarter oranges by slicing only through the peel. Remove peels and place in jar or other container with high sides. Use orange for another purpose. Cover peels in cold water and let stand one or two days at room temperature, draining and refreshing water at least once. (This step will soften the peel to make it easier to chop.)
  2. When ready to use, drain and slice each peel lengthwise into 6 strips. Chop horizontally along the strips (13 to 15 times) to create small cubes (1cm x 1cm).
  3. Place orange peel cubes into medium size saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and drain through a sieve. To remove as much of the bitterness from the peel as possible, repeat 3-5 times.
  4. [See Note below for method that does not require a thermometer.]* In a medium, heavy bottom saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup or honey, and water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Wash down any sugar crystals that form on the sides of the saucepan by brushing with a wet pastry brush. Insert candy thermometer and heat to 238°F. Remove thermometer.
  5. Add drained peel. Reduce heat and allow to simmer until peel is translucent and very little syrup is remaining, about 20 to 30 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent burning (the less liquid, the more often stirring will be necessary.)
  6. Remove peel and let cool by spreading out onto a baking sheet or parchment lined wire rack.** Alternatively, transfer to glass jar to cool (with lid on). When at room temperature, use immediately or store in the refrigerator until needed, up to 3 months.
Recipe Notes

*Method without Thermometer:  After combining sugar, corn syrup or honey, and water in saucepan, stir in peel.  Bring to a boil on medium high heat.  Reduce heat and let simmer until a small amount of syrup remains and peels are soft and translucent, about 45 minutes.  Stir occasionally to prevent burning, especially during the last few minutes of cooking.

** For peel needed as decoration, such as sprinkling on top of a cake, toss some peel in granulated sugar.

Share this Recipe

 

 

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.