$5 Friday: Candied orange peel

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Hmmm, the scent of orange peel and its connection with Christmas.  Orange peel is an essential ingredient in many Christmasy things including fruit cake.  And beautiful just by itself. My Nana used to make the best candied orange peel.  I have tried to replicate, and while hers are hard to beat, I think I have done a pretty special job as well.

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This year I am celebrating Christmas while still undergoing a $50/week grocery challenge. How is it going?  Well since deciding to start it two months ago I am still on target.  I have a separate purse just for food purchases. I put my $50/week into that purse and only use the money in that purse and only that.  In the early weeks my weekly bill was between $25/$35. Now it is around $35/$45 per week, and sometimes I dip into my purse savings for extras.  But still I have $90 leftover in it which tells me something about how little we actually need to eat (and this amount includes cleaning products and toiletries/personal items as well).

And we are not starving.  Far from it.

I have, strangely enough, not manged to declutter nearly as much in my cupboard and freezer as I thought I would have by now.  The contents of my freezer in particular appears to be growing.  But I have dramatically reduced the amount of food waste in my household.  And I am learning to do more with less.  This candied orange peel is a case in point.

I saved the orange skins after making a batch of Sicilian blood orange cordial, put them in a ziploc bag and popped them in the freezer.  That’s right, I froze them until needed.  And they worked just fine.  Any orange skins, or indeed lemon skins, would work well but these blood orange ones were delightful. Ideally you want fairly thick skins but it doesn’t matter too much.

Frozen blood orange skins
Frozen blood orange skins

Over the next few weeks in the lead-up to Christmas, I will use these candied orange peels in a few different ways.  My batch made rather a lot, so I wanted to use them for other dishes as well, but it is fine just to wrap in cellophane bags and gift them as is.  Or dip some in dark chocolate.  Yum!

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The finished product – candied orange peel. Place in a dry sealed container and it will keep for three to four weeks.
A bag of orange peel
A bag of orange peel ready to gift

This is a bit of work to make, but there is something special about these candied orange peels.  And wouldn’t you rather stay in your own home making artisan sweets than dashing around a crazy busy shopping centre?

Ingredients

8 half orange shells (i.e. from four oranges)
2 1/2 cups of sugar

Method

  1. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil.  Take orange shells (i.e. oranges that have been juiced first so that only the skin remains), and add to the boiling water.  Mine were frozen and I did not defrost first.  Cook for just under 15 minutes or until tender.
  2. Drain, rinse with water and allow to cool.

    Orange skins after being boiled for 15 minutes
    Orange skins after being boiled for 15 minutes
  3. Using a small to medium sized knife, scrape away at the inside of the orange to remove the remaining fruit and pith.  You want nice clean orange skin without any furry or fruity bits hanging off it.
  4. Cut the orange skin into pieces around 1/2 cm in width. You can vary this according to preference; I like mine in strips.
    A colander full of sliced orange skins
  5. Place two to three cups of water in a saucepan and add the cut orange skin pieces.  Bring to the boil.  Drain.  Repeat.  This is important as it ensures the orange peels lose their bitterness.
  6. In a clean saucepan, combine 1 cup of sugar with 1/2 cup of water.  Stir until the sugar has dissolved and then cook for around 10 minutes.
    Sugar syrup in a saucepan
  7. Add the cooked orange peel and then cook on a low heat for around 20 minutes.

    Orange peel cooked in sugar syrup
    Allow the orange peel to cook slowly in syrup for around 20 minutes
  8. Take the saucepan off the heat and allow to cool slightly.  Place the remaining sugar in a bowl. Roll pieces of orange in the sugar, and leave on a cake rack for several hours or ideally overnight to harden. (Note: this works well in dry weather. And make sure there are no ants around, which can happen when it is about to rain).

    A rack of drying orange peel
    The finished product – dried orange peel
  9. Voila!  Candied orange peel.

Extra special Ms Frugal Ears tips:

  • Do not throw out the leftover sugar used for coating the sugar.  Instead keep it and use it for adding to cups of tea – it will taste just like Earl Grey tea.
  • Keep the leftover sugar syrup, and maybe some of the last orange candied peels as well.  Put them all in a glass jar and use to top syrup cakes or pancakes.  Also nice over ice-cream.
Orange peel in a jar of syrup
Orange peel in a jar of syrup

Cost:

Orange peels (free, leftovers that would normally be thrown out)
Sugar 50c

Total:  50c

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