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Did you know that those super fragrant orange peels you throw away could become your next favorite treat? Yep. It’s true. And while the process is “long-ish,” it’s insanely easy and requires very little attention from you.
6 cups water (in 3 parts)
6 cups sugar (in 3 parts)
Sugar for dusting
Chocolate (white or dark)
Peel the oranges, but this time, we’re focusing on the peel, not the orange. (You can just eat the orange while the peels cook.) While you’re cutting off the peel, you want to avoid getting too much of the white stuff – that’s called the pith. It’s bitter and gross. If you notice it on the backside, just scrape it off with the side of your knife. We just want the lovely exterior.
Now, you can do a lot with candied orange peels. You can just eat it. You can garnish desserts with it, or you can garnish drinks with it. For our instances, we’re just going to eat it. So we want to cut larger strips that are about 1/2 inch wide and at least 1-2 inches long. If you were going to use it for a dessert garnish, we would then chop this up into thin julienne strips.
Once the oranges are peeled, the correctly-sized strips and all the pith is removed, then comes the easy part.
Mix 2 cups water with 2 cups sugar in a sauce pan. Stir to combine. Add orange peels. Bring to a simmer for 30 minutes. Occasionally, I walked over and stirred it, making sure none of the peels stuck to the bottom.
Once we hit 30 minutes, carefully pour the liquid out and keep it! We’re going to make a cocktail with that in a few days. The first batch of liquid has the best, most concentrated flavor. The next two are good, but this one is going to be the best by far.
Now, add in the next two cups of water and sugar. Simmer for another 30 minutes. (See? Easy, but time consuming.)
And, you guessed it, repeat for the third time with the last of the sugar and water for another 30 minutes.
Now that the orange peels are good and soft, you want to toss them in some additional sugar. This reduces the stickiness. (Think of a gummy candy with its protective sugar coating. Don’t skip this step.)
Lay the peels out to dry on parchment or a raised grid if you have one. Here’s the thing: if you want to have good, long-lasting peel, it should dry for several days.
I almost never plan that far ahead, and truly, that’s more days than I plan for this stuff to last! So if you expected to eat it all in 2-3 days, just leave it out for a few hours and call it a day. If you want to have something that lasts longer, then either set the tray aside for a few days to dry or pop it into the oven at 170° (or the lowest your oven goes) for an hour.
Once they’re the level of dry that we want, we can dip the fruit in chocolate. Melt chocolate in the microwave, just 20 seconds at a time until it’s all smooth.
Dip 1/2 of the peel into the chocolate, leaving the end you’re holding to be clean and chocolate-free. Place on parchment to dry.
Keep orange peels stored in an airtight container up to 14 days.
If you want to use this for a drink garnish, skip the step where we dip it in chocolate.