Candied Orange Peel 2.0

So when I included a procedure for candied orange peel to be used in the Amaranth Wafer recipe in my book, EveryDayCook, I didn’t have a lot of space and so the procedure had to be abbreviated…a lot. And it wasn’t given nearly the attention it was due. Some of you have had trouble with it, and once I went back and gave it a fresh look, I can see why. It’s badly written…simple as that. Truth is, candied orange peel is one of my very favorite candies, not only as an ingredient, but just as candy I like to munch. What’s more is that I love making it. So it (not to mention you) deserve a full explanation of the procedure. (Browse gallery for a full how-to in photos above.)

Candied Orange Peel 2.0

  • 4 ripe oranges (Navel will do just fine)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 cups water
  1. Place a cooling rack over a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. If you don’t have a pan, just put the paper on the counter, but don’t skip the cooling rack.
  2. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the outer peel of each orange working from stem end to blossom end. (I’d say “longitudinally,” but who thinks about oranges having lines of longitude?)
  3. When all the peeling is done, lay each piece on a cutting board, pith side up (that’s the white stuff) and use a paring knife to scrape off as much of the pith as possible. Don’t go crazy, but the more you get off the less bitter it’ll be.
  4. Place the peel strips in a medium saucier or saucepan (I use a three quart saucier so that the liquid will pool in the bottom as it reduces). Add two cups of water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then drop the heat to maintain a simmer for 15 minutes. Drain and return the peel to the pan.
  5. Add the sugar and the last two cups of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and stir every few minutes until the sugar dissolves. A silicone spatula is absolutely the best tool for the job.
  6. When the syrup hits a boils, drop the heat and maintain a simmer for approximately 1 hour. Since the syrup is going to slowly concentrate, you’ll need to drop the heat every now and then to just maintain that simmer. Remember this isn’t just about creating a sugar crust, it’s about actually getting some of that sugar into the peel and that takes time. Stir every few minutes to help insure equal coverage and cooking.
  7. After 50 minutes a majority of the water will have evaporated and the remaining syrup will thick and there will be a lot of bubbles. You’ll know you’re close to done when you feel grit at the bottom of the pan when you swipe the spatula across it. That means the syrup is “concentrated” and the sugar is falling out of solution. At this point use an instant read thermometer to start checking the temp.*
  8. When the syrup hits 250 degrees F, immediately remove from the heat and pour the orange peels onto the cooling rack, separating and straightening the pieces as quickly as you can with the spatula or a couple of forks. Once cool, shake off any excess sugar and cover lightly with paper towels or a clean towel overnight.
  9. Seal the candied peel in a glass jar and store at room temperature for up to 3 months. If making in the summer, consider adding a food grade silica desiccant pack to the jar to absorb humidity. (Yes…the interwebs has them.)

Note: I don’t like waste so I return any syrup and surplus sugar from the paper and rack to the pan. I add a cup of water, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. The resulting syrup can be used in beverages…like tea and cocktails. Sealed in a jar and refrigerated it’ll keep for months.
Oh yeah…don’t forget to eat the oranges.
*Why not use a “clamp-on” style candy thermometer? Because the amount of syrup is so low at the end that you wouldn’t get a decent reading. So I use an instant read thermometer and just tilt the pan to pool the liquid to one side when reading.
Makes approximately 40 three-inch pieces.

Adapted from EveryDayCook


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  1. 1
    Julie Brennan

    Thank you Alton! I had a similar experience as Barbara Barnes in that the navels that we brought back from Florida this March, were also dry and pithy! So, wanting to make Hot Cross Buns for this unprecedented Easter in Quarantine, I sought out a recipe and you came thru—as I have grown accustomed! I also appreciated that you “salvaged” the sugar syrup and I will do the same!

  2. 2
    Brian Cavanagh

    Initial boil takes out bitterness. I bring the peels & cool water up to a boil, drain them, then repeat 2 more times, then make the simple syrup on the 4th return trip to the pan. When peeling, try to use as light a touch as possible to get thin peels with no white pith if at all possible. Going slowly and learning how to do this, you will be able to pick up speed with experience. A Y-peeler gives you more control. A dull peeler gives you the least. Thanks, Alton!

  3. 3
    Barbara Barnes

    The last batch of Cara Cara oranges we bought was dry and had little flavor. I didn’t want to just toss the final four, so I peeled them and now I have a tray full of beautiful, candied orange peel.

  4. 4

    I 100% think of citrus in terms of longitude…I am always reminding my husband to cut lemons and oranges “equatorially” to get pretty wedges!

  5. 5

    I have orange peel from Orangello I just made. Wonder if I have to boil them first or skip to the sugar stage? Hate to boil out the flavor in them.

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