When I woke up yesterday morning, I had no idea that my day would consist of making candied orange peels. My desire to fix a traditional wholegrain ricotta pie from Campania for Easter this year requires these delightful peels in the filling. Unfortunately candied fruits & peels though easily available during the holiday seasons seem to have disappeared from grocery market shelves the rest of year here in the US.
That was at least the case in my town where calls to several fine food stores were in vain. Fortunately my Mr. Hubby loves and I mean loves his oranges. He is also a whiz at peeling. He turns it into a fine art. Since his daily ritual includes demolishing 2 navel oranges, I not only asked him to photograph his peeling technique but also reserve the peels for me.
This is how he effortlessly and easily peels his oranges -
What can I say? An image is worth a thousand words!
Gather the peels and remove the excess pith from the underside .
Weigh the oranges on the kitchen scale. Why? To determine the sugar quantity to be used based on the weight. I use 1-1/2 times the weight of the peels.
Since my kitchen scale reads 4 oz, we will be using 6 oz of sugar for the syrup (extra sugar for the rolling)
Slice the peels into 1/4" wide strips. If you want to get rid of the bitterness trim each strip so its about 1/8" thick, getting rid of the pith. This is especially if you do not like the slightly bitter undertone that will come from the pith.
Since I quite like the slightly bitter taste, I have omitted this step.
Place the peels in enough water to completely cover the peels.
Bring to a boil and immediately turn out the peels in a sieve discarding all the water.
Refill with pan with the peels & cold tap water and repeat this process 3 times.
Repeat 3 times. Why? Because this blanching process will help get rid of the excess bitterness from the peels. For optimum results this process needs to occur 3 times.
On medium heat, bring a cup of water and the sugar (by weight) to simmer. Simmer for 8-9 minutes.
Sieve out the sugar syrup in a bowl. Refrigerate in a spare bottle once cooled as a basis for iced tea. Yummy!
Pour out some sugar - about 3/4 cup or so in a bowl. Roll the orange peels in the sugar one by one till crusted.
Cook's Note - If you are going to store these for future use, dry these on a rack so they completely lose their moisture.
Since I am using all of my peels in a pie, I am going to dry them on a parchment lines baking tray.
Dry them for at least 5-6 hours if using in a pie or a cake. Dry for 24 hours for future use & to store.
Cook's Note - For little bites of heaven, dip these to half their lengths in a dark chocolate sauce and turn these into instant dessert sticks!
And what you end up with is this -
I have been stealing a few of these as I have been walking past them (couldn't resist) and they are delicious. I can't wait to chop them up and use them for the pie.
Here's a trick I want to share.
I am going to start collecting the orange peels in a zip lock bag and store them in the freezer. When the bag is full, I can make a whole bunch of peels at a time and not have to deal with peeling a mountain of oranges all at once!
Also I just left them out to dry since I fixed these and they are really dry & stiff now and would be awesome with some chocolate dipping sauce - which is what I'll do with a few this evening after dinner.
Since this is step one towards our Easter Ricotta Pie from Campania, see you tomorrow when we put these peels to even better use!