Part of the fatigue management programme (see last posting) is about doing something each day just for fun and pleasure.
This week, it has been candied peel for the sous chef who has been making panettone, that tall Italian brioche-like bread. Of course, being a man, he has to have all the right accoutrements down to the fancy cardboard case for the final rise and baking – with bamboo skewers inserted so that the edifice can be suspended upside down when it cools (avoids the soft creation collapsing).
Anyway, he wanted proper candied peel and, with Seville orange season upon us, I obliged and now have a stock for fruit cakes, Christmas puddings and gifts.
The actual work of this recipe is dead easy, doesn’t take much time but is spread out over about a week. The really messy bit is taking the peel off the parchment paper, rolling in caster sugar and storing in boxes. Even with several hand-washes, I was sticky everywhere and the floor needed a good mop through. But the result was worth it all.
3 lb Seville oranges (or any citrus fruit)
1500g granulated sugar
Caster sugar for storing.
Cut the fruit in half and squeeze out all the juice. I have a whizzy electric “lemon squeezer” which makes this very easy. I used the juice in marmalade.
Remove any remnants of the flesh, pips etc. from the fruit halves.
Place the fruit halves in a pan, covered with water (weighed down with a plate if necessary). Don’t use more water than needed.
Simmer for 1-2 hours until the peel is soft but not falling apart.
Add 500g sugar and stir gently over a low heat so that it dissolves without breaking up the peel. Once dissolved, boil rapidly for 30 minutes. Leave the peel in the syrup for 24 hours.
Repeat the addition of 500g sugar, dissolving, boiling, standing.
Repeat again. By this time, the cold syrup should have reached the consistency of thick honey.
Gently warm the peel and syrup – just enough so that you can remove the peel from the syrup.
Place the drained peel on baking trays lined with parchment paper and place in the oven on the very lowest heat for 6 hours to dry as much as possible. Leave in the oven until completely cool.
Put caster sugar into a bowl and roll each piece of peel in the sugar before placing in an airtight storage box, interleaving layers with parchment paper. Add any remaining caster sugar to the layers to keep the peel separate.
I’ve stored peel like this for at least 12 months.
The remaining orange-flavoured sugar syrup and the caster sugar from the boxes can be used in puddings, baking, pannetone and next year’s marmalade. Nothing wasted!