Saturday, October 24, 2009

Very Apeeling

Thanks to one of my Tuesday knitters, I got to try something I've always wanted to do! I cannot tell you how long I've been plotting an eventual attempt at making candied orange peels. When I was younger, my Oma would tell me stories about her childhood. She grew up very poor and was the middle of nine children. My great grandmother Una put herself into an early grave working 3 jobs in order to keep food on the table. When I think of this, I am always extraordinarily grateful for all of the opportunity and blessings I've had in my life. I never knew my great grandmother but my Oma has played such a huge role in my upbringing. I grew up on a completely different part of the spectrum than she did because she and my Opa spoiled me rotten! When we talk on the phone now, I'd say at least half of our conversation is about food so I get it honest!

One day, she was telling me about Christmas time when she was a child. She would usually get an orange in her stocking. In those days, it was a true luxury. They didn't have trucks hauling citrus from Florida and California all year round like we do now. She didn't want to waste any part of it so when she was finished eating the fruit, she would make candy out of the peel. I was completely dumbfounded by this! That bitter junky stuff that I always threw away could be made into candy?

Fast forward to about three weeks ago. My knitters were talking amongst themselves and one of them, Eileen, mentioned how she eats a lot of oranges. She said she always saves the peel and makes candy. I interrupted her (oops!) and exclaimed that I'd been meaning to try doing that. I have a few books with recipes but, for some reason, it always intimidated me. She told me it was terribly easy. The next week, she was even so kind as to bring me in a baggie full of peel and her recipe! It may sound small but I know that she lives on a very fixed budget and I was so moved by her thoughtfulness.

It took me about a week and a half to get around to actually making them into candy but they held up just fine in the fridge. You have to boil them for ten minutes and them dump the water. Then you have to repeat that process two more times to remove the bitterness. I tended to them while I did random housework and it made the whole condo smell like oranges. Nice bonus!

Candied Citrus Peel

Peel from various citrus sliced into 1/4 inch strips
2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup water
Extra sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Boil peel in enough water to keep them covered for ten minutes. Drain. Repeat two more times. Drain peel and add two cups of sugar and the half of a cup of water. Boil until the syrup is thick and the peel is translucent. Syrup might be completely absorbed.

Lay on wax paper to dry overnight. You can coat in sugar after about an hour of initial drying. I actually only used 1/4 cup of water and a cup of sugar because Eileen told me that there wasn't enough peel to warrant the full amount.

I know it says the extra sugar is optional but it looks so gosh darned pretty that I can't see why not!
My husband and I could not keep our hands out of these things while they were drying! They are absolutely delicious. You have to make sure they are 100% dry before storing them. I have mine in an old jar and they will keep for a looong time. I already have some fresh peel gathering up in the fridge for another round next week! I think this will make excellent holiday treats!

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