Candied Grapefruit Peel
Remember all that grapefruit that spawned the need to make Grapefruit Marmalade? Well, I couldn't let all the great peels go to waste. Instead I peeled the remaining fruit (before making the marmalade) and immediately started a recipe for Candied Grapefruit Peel.
I confess to making candied peel before, probably about once a year actually. I've made it enough times that I loosely follow my own recipe that's a mix of a recipe I had a few years ago (and have since lost), combined with bits of this one, this one , and this one. I'm not one for following one recipe for long.
- Citrus peel (grapefruit in this case. I've done this same technique with lemon and oranges before too)
- sugar (this is something I eyeball, I'll give more information shortly)
- Peel fruit. Often I'll use a knife to score the peel while still on the fruit and then use those score lines to peel the fruit. I'll then cut those peels into matchsticks.
- Put the peel in a pan and cover with water. Bring water to a boil. Drain, repeat. If we're dealing with grapefruit or lemon, I'll do this about 3-5 times depending on the color of the water (by the end it should be clear after boiling, not tinted yellow).
- Put the drained peel back into the pan and then add sugar. I normally put in about the same number of cups of sugar as cups of peel. So for 2 cups of peel, I'll add 2 cups of sugar. but consider your tastebuds (and your fruit) when making yours.
- Add enough water to make a syrup. In this case, I added about 1/3 as much water as sugar.
- Bring to a boil and turn heat down to simmer. I simmer for around 30 minutes, then turn the burner off but leave the pan covered as it cools.
- I'll turn the burner on and bring the syrup/fruit peel to a simmer 3-6 more times over the next 24 hours. When the burner is turned off, I leave the covered pan on the stove to cool.
- Once most of the liquid has evaporated and the syrup is a gorgeous golden color, I decide that the peel is done. I like mine more on the crisp candy side, less of the translucent side (the Food.com recipe has more information about this)
- I remove the peel from the glorious syrup to a baking sheet covered in parchment (or silicon sheets) and let them dry. I have used a sugar coating on some peels in the past but find that it's just too much sugar for my tastes...but it does help make sure you can store you peel in one spot and fewer pieces will stick together. You'll have to decide what makes the most sense for you.
- Enjoy! I like to eat these plain, serve dipped in chocolate on a cookie plate for the holidays, or as garnish in a Kingston Negroni...forget the orange slice for garnish, use candied grapefruit peel and be even more avant garde!
And as I've said before - I look at recipes as being a good starting place and I improvise the rest. So, what did I do this time?
The grapefruit I was dealing with had a thick pith (that white part between the zest and the fruit). In this case I decided to take the zest off with a paring knife to keep the amount of pith minimal, but still allowing me to have some pith. If I had just done the score and peel method the slices would have been around 1/3 inch thick! I like a little bit of the pith on my peel when it is candied...it gives the candy a little more chew in my opinion...but that much seemed a little overboard.
I like to cut my peel into small slivers but this is all a matter of preference. If you love grapefruit and want thick slices, go for it. Just know that may make your simmer processing (see below) a little longer.
I then put the peel in a pan, cover it with water, and bring it to a full boil. After boiling for a few minutes, I drain the water from the pan and repeat. Once the water is no longer yellow when draining the peels, I know it's done. This often takes 3-5 boils. The color of the peel lessens a bit during this process and any pith becomes almost opaque.
At this point, add the sugar, a little water, and start the candy process. I normally eyeball the sugar. In this case I added about 3/4 the amount of sugar as peel (these grapefruit have a less tart flavor and that includes the zest). I had about 4 cups of peel after it was boiled so I added 3 cups of sugar. I also added about 1 cup of water. Mostly I add the water to help make sure the peel doesn't burn with the sugar immediately.
This is where the process can take a long time. I bring the sugar, peel and water to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer. I allow the concoction to simmer for about 25-30 minutes then I turn off the heat. I turn the heat on, simmer, and turn the heat off about every 4-6 hours for the next 24 hours or so. This allows the sugar to really penetrate the peel and with every heating...really bring out the caramel colors!
Once the peel is a color, flavor and texture you like, use a slotted spoon, a chopstick, a fork...anything...to pull out individual pieces and place them on a piece of parchment paper to 'dry'. If you want to use the peel for things like drinks, it is important to keep the pieces from touching. They are extremely sticky and will hold onto anything around them! Many people like to roll the cooled and dried pieces in sugar to give each piece a little coating and keep them from sticking together. I'm not a fan of this approach, but my peel does seem to stick together more than others, so consider what you're looking for when you make your own and decide accordingly.
I would recommend storing the dried peels between sheets of parchment to keep them separate. Or you can do as I do, and put them into glass jars, lightly stacked on each other..but know that I spend a decent amount of time separating them when it's time to use one!
Now you are sometimes left with a bit of syrup at the bottom of the pan once all the peels have been removed. DON'T LET THIS GO TO WASTE! This is a great simple syrup that can be stirred into cocktails, added to ice cream or swirled into a cake batter for a wonderful grapefruit flavor.
All that's left after this point is to make yourself a lovely drink and garnish with a slice of your wonderful peel! But those options are for our famous Cocktails person to help out with....oh Roman!