I love when you can take something headed for the trash and make it into something beautiful. The French, fine makers of fancy things, have done this so elegantly with the classic candied orange peel treat, orangettes.
These are surprisingly simple, and can be as frugal as you want them to be.
This is what you will need:
Orange peels (or lemon or grapefruit) from 4 large oranges (I used 5 smaller oranges)
Sugar (I used turbinado, but you can use regular sugar, or ultra fine granulated sugar)
Since you are eating the peels, I would only use organic oranges for this. Everyone feels differently about this topic, so do what you feel comfortable with. Either way, make sure to start by cleaning your oranges well.
Next you will take a knife and cut off the very top and bottom of the oranges.
Score each of the sides with a smaller knife so that you have several clean straight slices around the orange. Peel the orange and slice into thin sections.
You will take these orange peels and boil them for 15 minutes in water.
Drain, rinse, and drain again.
I collected the water the oranges were cooked in because I thought I might be able to use it for cleaning purposes. I'd love to hear if you know what to do with it. It is very bitter, however, and not something you want to drink (trust me on this one)!
|Do not drink this. Yuck!|
Next you will combine your sugar and water in a pot and bring to a boil. You are making a simple syrup using one part sugar to one part water. The recipe that I started with suggested suggested 3 cups of sugar and three cups of water, but I used two cups of each and it was plenty syrup to cover the amount of orange peels I was using.
Dissolve all of the sugar, bring to a boil and add peels. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
I used turbinado sugar which is why my syrup is so dark.
Drain your oranges (make sure to collect that delicious orange flavored syrup), toss in sugar and lay them out to dry. I tossed my orange peels in turbinado. Next time I will use a finer granulated sugar to toss them in, but they still look great.
I let them dry about 24 hours, and then I dipped them in melted dark chocolate and placed them on parchment paper on a tray and stuck them in a fridge to firm up. The chocolate part is optional, but so worth it if you have it.
They don't look "perfect" but that's kind of charming I think. And once you taste them you will know why they sell these in the fancy French bakeries!
I packaged them up in jam jars and gave them as gifts.
The total cost for this was about $4.50 for 4 gifts. I used organic sugar and organic fair trade chocolate from Trader Joe's. Using less expensive chocolate and sugar would make this significantly cheaper.
Here is the cost breakdown:
Orange peels - I'm counting these as free since they would normally be tossed and we buy oranges anyway.
Sugar - About $2.50 worth of organic Turbinado from TJ's.
Water - Free
Organic Fair Trade Dark Chocolate Bar from TJ's (optional) - $2
I haven't decided what I will be using the orange syrup for yet, but I think I might use it to make a rhubarb sauce. You could use it to add to tea, for summer cocktails, basically anywhere you would use simple syrup.
Have you ever made candied citrus peel? Have you ever tasted it? These have been getting rave reviews from kids and grown-ups alike, so give it a try!