November 25, 2009

Candied Orange Peel

So yesterday I mentioned that I had candied orange peel strips cooking away on the stove and today I was able to get them just about finished, they still have some more drying to do but for the most part, they are officially candied.

I've never candied anything in my life. At least not that I can remember. But I have this fantasy that one day I will candy all the fruit necessary to make my annual batch of fruit cakes (which reminds me, I forgot to buy boxes for those things today, darn!!) I will probably never be organized enough to get all the cherries and lemon peel and pineapple and odd little bits and pieces of things that are red and green and sweet candied that I would need, but a girl likes to dream.

The recipe for these comes from the River Cottage Handbook #2, which is all about preserves and is my cookbook de jour (even though it's pretty much past time to preserve anything, I still enjoy reading jam and chutney recipes, laugh, go ahead) Having fallen in love with the River Cottage Family book and in like with the River Cottage Cookbook, I was pleased to see that this handbook is just as good, if not better, than the others. If you have any interest in making jam, I highly recommend it. It's not as exhaustive as the giant Stocking Up tome that I have been using (circa 1975) but since a lot of what is in that is beyond what even I would be interested in preserving, I think the handbook is a better bet for the every day jammer.

Candied Orange Sticks adapted from the River Cottage Handbook #2

4-5 large oranges
2 cups of granulated sugar (500 g)

Run a knife around the oranges so the peel is split into quarters. Carefully remove the peel from the orange in whole, quartered pieces, a spoon inserted under the peel helps if they seem to be ripping. And really, you can use them ripped into little chunks if you want, they just wont be sticks, they'll be chunks.

Slice the peels into thin strips and put them in a heavy bottomed pot with enough water to cover. Bring the water to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. Drain completely then add fresh water to just over half covering the peels. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for 45 minutes (stir every once in a while or you'll end up with blackened bits like me :)) Add the sugar and stir until dissolved, put the lid back on and simmer another 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the whole thing for 24 hours.

The next day, bring to a boil again, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered 30 minutes or until the liquid is a thick syrup. Remove the strips of peel with tongs onto a wire rack (with a drip pan beneath) and allow to dry 24 hours or, if you're impatient like me, pop them in the oven at your lowest setting (170 for me) for 2-3 hours.

I tossed about half of mine in granulated sugar to see which I would like better. The plan is to dip these in chocolate closer to Christmas for gifts. If they make it that long. They are yummy little snacks.

The leftover syrup is pretty tasty to, I added a little to a jar of vodka that I have soaking with a lemon and sugar on my windowsill and mixed the rest with the same amount of honey which, by the way, was divine dribbled over a chunk of Stilton with apricots for a little late afternoon pick-me-up. In fact. Even if you don't want candied fruit, I'd say it's worth it to boil a few orange peels in sugar and water just so you can mix the syrup with honey for your cheese eating pleasure. That good. I'm tellin' ya.

Now, I'm off to make a Pumpkin Pie for tomorrow's festivities. I hope everyone out there has a very happy and tasty Thanksgiving!