Score grapefruit, oranges, and lemons through peel from top to bottom in 6 sections for grapefruit and 4 for oranges and lemons (don't cut into fruit.) Pull off strips of peel with your fingers. Slide a small, sharp knife along inside of peels to remove excess membrane so peels are about 1/4 in. thick. Cut peels lengthwise into strips about 1/2 in. wide in center and tapered on ends.
Put peels in a 3- to 4-qt. saucepan and add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, then drain. Repeat twice more.
Refill pan with 2 1/2 cups water and 2 1/2 cups sugar; bring to a boil, making sure that sugar dissolves. Add peels and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until peels turn translucent and syrup begins to form bigger bubbles, about 1 1/2 hours.
Drain peels, saving syrup for other uses (such as topping pancakes) if you like. Spread peels on a nonreactive cooling rack set on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Let peels dry overnight.
Put remaining 1 cup sugar in a bowl and toss peels in sugar by the handful, shaking off excess. Put peels on a clean baking sheet and let them dry 1 more day.
Serve peels plain or dipped in chocolate.*
*Melt 10 oz. chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate in a small pan over barely simmering water. Dip peels halfway into chocolate; set on baking sheets lined with waxed paper. Chill until set, about 30 minutes.
Make ahead: Up to 3 months, chilled airtight.
Box it: Crystal clear boxes, from $2 5/25; clearbags.com
I give these for gifts every year, and everyone always loves them. My kids even ask for them, and they are picky! Hi hey do take awhile, but as long as you cut out the extra membrane so the peels aren't too thick, but also make sure you don't make the slices too thin, they turn out great.
This is a terrific amount of work & a horrid failure. The end product was a variety of disappointments -- some had the consistency of jerky, some just chewed like gum, some were too tough to even bother with. How did such a horrid recipe make it past the test kitchen? A rhetorical question
One of the few disappointments I've had with a Sunset recipe. Though I followed the instructions religiously, the peels are still a tad bitter. They're not so bad that I can't give them as gifts, but I don't expect people to beg for them next year. And it's a time-consuming project with messy clean-up. Not a keeper.
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