An unusual whole-peel technique is used to make this classic holiday candy soft and luscious. Prep and Cook Time: 5 hours, plus at least 8 hours of drying time. Notes: Use an equal amount of lemons or grapefruits in place of the oranges if you like. The peel keeps at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
5 pounds oranges (see Notes), washed and dried
8 cups sugar, divided
How to Make It
Halve and juice fruit; reserve juice for another use. Put peels in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook 3 minutes. Drain. Return peels to pot, cover with cold water, bring to a boil, cook 3 minutes, and drain. Repeat once more. Spread peels on baking sheets and let sit until cool enough to handle, 20 minutes.
Using a soup spoon, scrape out the membranes and discard. Cut peels into strips and set aside.
In a large, heavy pot over high heat, bring 8 cups water and 6 cups sugar to a boil. Add peels, reduce heat to maintain a steady, gentle simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until peels are tender, sweet, and translucent, 3 hours. (Don't let sugar brown or caramelize.) Drain peels and spread on wire racks set over baking sheets. Let sit until dry, at least 8 hours.
Toss a handful of peels with remaining 2 cups sugar. Shake off excess sugar and put in an airtight container. Repeat with remaining peels.
It does take a little time (in bouts), especially the scraping, but it is really worth it. I kept some plain and half covered the rest with dark chocolate, my sister just cannot stop eating them, and it is a lovely low calorie snack which I like to present at the end of a special dinner.
I did this recipe last year with orange, lemon and grapefruit... Very time consuming but well worth it. The Orange and Lemon were the favorites... Doing just the Orange peel this year. Makes a LOT to give away - yum!
This recipe is incredibly time-consuming, but if you are committed to it, it does make some beautiful candy, especially for the holidays. The method of scraping the pulp out after boiling actually makes the candy sweeter because you scrape out more of the bitter pith before you boil it in the sugar. Don't remove too much, though, or your candy will be like plastic and not tender. Next year I am going to try this with grapefruit. Yummy.
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