Two big pink grapefruits cost me $4.58 the other day, so I thought I should candy the peel.
I remember making candied citrus peel when I was pretty small, and not stressing about the recipe. I probably did whatever Joy of Cooking said to do. Of course now that there’s the Internet, and one can find 5,000 recipes in 10 seconds, it’s different. I found some mixed opinion on how much pith to leave on – Joy said scrape off the pith after softening the peels by cooking; Food52 says get as much pith attached to the rind as you can. I am pretty much in the latter camp – what else is there to candy, if you don’t have the pith?
The other issue is how many times to blanch the peels. All the recipes have you repeatedly blanch/simmer the peel in water, to get the bitterness out, then cook it in sugar syrup. Some recipes have you soak the peel in cold water first, then blanch. My older Joy, 1975, says to cut the peel into strips, cover with cold water, and simmer for about 3 minutes. Rinse, and repeat “three to five times”. The newer Joy, 75th Anniversary edition, says to cook whole hunks of the peel, as it came off the fruit, for 30 minutes, then drain, cover with fresh cold water, and cook until tender. Then drain and scrape off excess pith, and then cut into strips, and cook in the sugar syrup. The Food52 recipe says to cook it three times, fresh water each time, and already in strips. It also recommends washing the pan with soap and water – I guess to be sure to get any bitter citrus residue off – before cooking in the sugar syrup.
After cooking in the sugar syrup, everyone agrees that the peel strips have to be dried out. Then some recipes say to roll the strips in granulated sugar, others say powdered sugar, while still others suggest simply drying the strips and dunking them in chocolate.
Here’s what I did:
Saved the peel from two grapefruits in a ziploc bag.
Cut the peel into strips, and only removed stringy bits, not all the white pith.
Put the strips in a pot, covered with cold water, brought to a boil, and simmered 3 minutes. Repeated three times.
Drained and rinsed the peel – the cooking water was still orange even the third time – but it got a little lighter.
Cooked strips awaiting further cooking in sugar syrup.
Cooked for an hour in the syrup, that I made with 2 1/2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of water. I used filtered water for this, because I thought might save the syrup.
Arranged on a rack to dry. I used tongs to grab clumps of strips out of the still-warm cooking syrup, then arranged them with my fingers on the rack.
I rolled the strips in sugar, and left them to dry out some more.
Then packed them in a ziploc bag and stuck them in the fridge.