Making your own glace citrus peels is easy. Instead of wasting your money on those tubs of peels available in stores for holiday baking (and who knows how much high fructose corn syrup is in those tubs?), make your own when the best citrus is in season.
You can save the peel from lemons, oranges, grapefruit and pomelos as you eat them. Just toss the peel into a zipped plastic bag and keep in the refrigerator up to 4 days. I used Jacques Pepin’s method as guidance here.
- citrus peels from 4 or more fruits, including either thick-skinned oranges, pomelos, lemons or grapefruit
- 1-1/2 cups cane sugar
- more sugar for rolling the peel
- water, preferably filtered
- Use a small knife to score the peels into 6 or more segments. Pull off the peel, keeping the thick, cottony white part. Reserve the peel, refrigerated, and eat the fruits.
- If you want to do lime peel, don’t mix that with other fruits; do limes separately. Candied lime peel is a delicious sweet to nibble and is also wonderful in zucchini marmalade.
- When enough peel is accumulated and you are ready to candy, put the peel sections in a big pot, stainless or ceramic are best, and add water to cover. Bring the water to a full boil and boil for 30 seconds. The first boil, the peel wants to float, so push it down with a spoon, keeping it submerged as best you can.
- Drain off the water and refill the pot with water to cover the peel. It won’t float so much the second time. Again, bring to a full boil for 30 seconds. Drain.
- Put the peel back into the pot and add 1 ½ cups of sugar and 8 cups of water. Stir and bring to a boil, stirring a couple times to make sure the sugar is dissolved. Turn the heat down and keep the pot at a low boil. Lemon peels take about 1-1/2 hours. Navel orange peels and the thick peel of pomelos take more time, about 2 hours. Watch carefully toward the end to make sure the syrup doesn’t scorch.
- By now, the peel should be translucent and the syrup very reduced and thick. If the syrup still looks thinner than maple syrup, continue to cook until it’s more reduced. Set out a wire rack with a cookie sheet or parchment underneath. Remove the peel to the wire rack and let it drain and dry. Depending on the humidity, this can take 24 to 30 hours.
- When it feels just sticky, roll the pieces of peel in a pie plate full of sugar. Put it back onto the rack to dry.
Store the peels in either jars or a plastic zipper bag in the refrigerator for months, until you are ready to use them. For long storage, they do freeze well. Again, waste not: Store the remaining rolling sugar for the next time you candy citrus peel. Pour the remaining syrup into a small jar and use it as a simple syrup for making lemonade.
You can dice the peels to use in fruit breads like stollen or panettone, preserves and mincemeat; I use scissors for this. Strips can be dipped in chocolate for a delicious sweet. Small jars of the candied fruit peel make a welcome gift.
Wendy Akin is a happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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