Candied Citrus Peel

There's always a bunch of pressure with gift giving during the holidays. DANG!  It can be overwhelming! I like to make edible gifts for my friends & family each year because it works well with my budget and I get to flex my kitchen prowess. RAWR!  The act of making edible gifts also calms me in a way standing in line at a department store CANNOT.

This year Candied Citrus Peel will be one of the edible gifts I give. They're made with love!

It takes a little bit of time (about a day to cure) but once you're done, you're left with 6 jars of awesomeness. These candied peels are delicious on their own, but can REALLY enhance a cocktail. You could also blend them up in a food processor and you'll instantly have citrus sugar. It's amazing on buttered toast or on top of a muffin. You could go a step further and dip them in chocolate. How about that?!

These are things you should tell whoever you're giving these to.

It's also a two-fer recipe! You get a really great citrus simple syrup that you can gift as well. You'll have enough citrus left to make this cocktail!

And if you're really into lemon, I suggest making a batch or two of Limoncello.  You have time!

And we're off!

With this batch, I used a combo of lemon & grapefruit. I love them both! Orange would be fantastic too.

I'm also contemplating doing a batch with lime. How fab would that be in a cocktail? SUPER FAB.

Sugar, water & a pot. That is all.

You need to remove the peels. Do it in segments.

A-peeling, isn't it?

You also need to remove the pith. I stood here removing the pith for awhile and kept repeating the words PITHY PARTY in my head. This is how my brain works. My brain enjoys puns. It really does.

Now you need to slice up the peels. I left some pith on my lemon. Judge not. The end result tasted fine.

OK. First thing's first. We must boil the peels in water TWICE. Boil. Drain. Boil.

This not only cleans the peels of any residue, it removes bitterness!

Now we simmer the peels in the simple syrup until the peels get all translucent.

Can you see the difference?

Once they are cooled, drain them well with a paper towel and roll them in sugar.

Put them on a rimmed baking sheet. They need to harden. This process takes a day or two depending on the moisture in your house.

Take the citrus simple syrup and strain it into bottles. Instant citrus simple syrup! MORE GIFTS.

After 1 day, they're hard. Not too hard! They won't break your teeth-hard.

Package them up in jars or little boxes.

Let's get zesty/gifty!

Candied Citrus Peel

makes about 3 cups

recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living

  • 2 grapefruits
  • 4 lemons
  • 4 cups sugar, plus more for rolling
  • 4 cups water

Using a pairing knife, make 6 slits along curve from top to bottom of each citrus fruit, cutting through peel but not into fruit. Using your fingers, gently remove peel. Reserve remainder of fruit for another use. Slice each piece of peel lengthwise into 1/4 inch wide strips. Trim excess pith from each strip, and discard.

Place strips in a large saucepan, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then drain. Repeat twice.

Bring sugar and 4 cups water to a boil, stirring occasionally until sugar has dissolved. Wash down sides of pan with a wet brush to prevent crystals from forming. Add strips to boiling syrup; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently, without stirring, until strips are translucent, about 1 hour. Remove from heat and let strips cool in syrup.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer strips to a wire placed in a rimmed baking sheet. Wipe off excess syrup with paper towels, then roll strips in sugar. Arrange in a single layer on a wire rack, and let dry for at least 24 hours. Sugar peels can be stored in an air tight container at room temperature up to 2 weeks.

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  • December 4, 2012

    Awesome idea! I'm already doing meyer lemon, rosemary, chili-lime, and vanilla flavored salts this year for gifts (I have more salt than I could consume in a lifetime so I'm completely committed to this gift idea now), but I'll have to remember this post for next year. The peels are so pretty!

    • Krista
      March 3, 2013

      How do you make the salts you are talking about? Would LOVE to try, they sound yummy!!!! Thanks, Krista

  • Jessica
    December 4, 2012

    This is my absolute favorite treat. I used to purchase them from Whole Foods in Walnut Creek. Since moving, I cannot find them anywhere. I will try this method.
    I've been meaning to ask, how do you get your toast to look so awesome and delicious? What type of toaster do you use? Please share your secrets! :)

    • Tracy
      December 4, 2012

      Hmm. Which toast? The ones with the grill marks? I use our panini press for that.

      • Jessica
        December 4, 2012

        I thought maybe you used a panini press for the marked ones. Even the piece's without the grill marks always look so perfectly crisp. I know it's a strange question but I am really picky about toast, actually bread in general. I need to buy a toaster so I thought I'd ask you :)

  • December 4, 2012

    It's a two-fer! Love this, I can't wait to make this and add it to holiday cocktails!

  • December 4, 2012

    What a pretty, pretty gift! I'm making granola this year - definitely easier than trying to shop with my 10 month old. In the past I've done all of my Christmas shopping at local small businesses, which is also easy and long-line free! :)

    • Tracy
      December 4, 2012

      Granola is a fantastic present!!!

  • jenny
    December 4, 2012

    your photos are so gorgeous, tracy! I totally want to make these...mainly so I can have pretty little jars of candied goodness sitting around. (ok, yes, and to offer up as gifts, too. :) )

  • December 4, 2012

    yum! still obsessed with your lemoncello from last year!

  • Andrea J
    December 4, 2012

    i have never had these you just eat them like that? I must try them!!

  • December 4, 2012

    omg, these look amazing. Now you should totally half dip them in dark chocolate! My FAVE sweet :)

  • December 4, 2012

    Ok, ok this sounds like something I could do. I'm looking for some homemade Christmas gifts and this one might be the ticket. I'm going to give it a shot!

  • December 4, 2012

    I'm making this for my boyfriend's parents (they're rich and impossible to buy for). Just to be clear (sorry, I'm a dipshit) the syrup that's left over from the peels is ready to go as simple syrup, right? Do I need to do anything else to it to store it so it doesn't get gross?

    • Tracy
      December 4, 2012

      Just strain it! That's all! You want to get any particles out of it. I ran mine through a fine mesh strainer and if you find that it's still a little murky, put it through a funnel & a coffee filter. Perfection! It won't get gross. It should last for a few weeks (at least at room temp) If you put it in the fridge it will last longer, but you will probably get sugar crystals.

  • December 4, 2012

    I've been seeing lots of how-tos for candied citrus peels lately and it keeps moving higher and higher on my "ideas for holiday gifts" list! If only just for the big ol' jar of citrus simple syrup that I'd get out of it...

  • Awesome idea. I think these citrus peels might just have a date with my martini glass. It is wrong that I am going there at 11:25am on a Tuesday? ha!

  • December 4, 2012

    I want to have my own pithy party! Thanks for these recipes...

  • December 4, 2012

    I'm always so impressed with your craftiness. These look delicious AND are so adorable. Also, a previous post of your turned me onto washi tape, and I am obssessed! :)

  • December 4, 2012

    This is a great idea! Especially as candied peel is used in a tonne of recipes at this time of year, you know?

  • December 4, 2012

    Tracy, these look fantastic!! I'm so excited to make them!

  • December 4, 2012

    I have everything needed to make this! My dad would love this so much. Printing recipe now :-)

  • December 4, 2012

    No joke, I am making this right now. I have no idea if its going to work with clementine peels though. We shall see...

  • Gillian
    December 5, 2012

    I happened to read this recipe just before I had my breakfast yesterday -- I insisted my parents and I all have oranges for breakfast and I made this right away. I'm trying them later but they look great!

    I missed the instruction on removing the pith. What a pithy. Oh well! I'm going to dip mine in dark chocolate too.

    Could this method work for ginger too?? Maybe less the first boil?

  • Gillian
    December 5, 2012

    Okay I couldn't wait and I just tried them.


    Fab recipe, Tracy, I'm going to be making this again to give as gifts!

  • December 5, 2012

    I love homemade gifts! Especially ones that use the part of a fruit you would normally throw away. They're so pretty too!

  • December 5, 2012

    I love this idea! It's so frugal and very easy to make. I'll have to try it soon! Thanks for sharing :)

    Cathy Trails

  • December 6, 2012

    I love this idea! A nice addition to my arsenal in addition to vanilla extract, infused booze and garlic confit! Homemade edible gifts have the double bonus of being more affordable like you say and thoughtful/from the heart - I'm done with all of my xmas shopping already but I really should make edible gifts next year.

  • December 6, 2012

    Yes to candied citrus -- I adore it atop little puff pastry tartlets filled with lemon curd!

  • Pam
    December 9, 2012

    Hi Tracy! What size jars are those? Did one batch make six jars? I'm nervous about the de-pithing part... but going to give it a go! Thank you!!

    • December 22, 2012

      I made the mistake of not pithing them before I sliced them! oops! So, what I did was used a veggie peeler against a curved counter and it took the pith right off! I'm SURE it would work after you've sliced the peels off. Good luck! totally worth it!

      • Tracy
        December 22, 2012

        Good idea!! Thanks for the tip!

  • December 9, 2012

    Bookmarked this for next year when I have moved back to England, and I'm planning on doing a totally homemade Christmas!

  • December 12, 2012

    I made these last Christmas to take to a few parties and to give as a gift upon first meeting of the (now ex) boyfriend's mom. They were a huge hit and I got a kick out of watching people take their first fearful bites (expressions quickly changed to delight after tasting).

  • charlotte
    December 12, 2012

    i made some of these earlier this year, with lemon, orange and grapefruit, adding a split vanilla pod, a few black peppercorns and a star anise to the sugar syrup... poached some pears in the syrup after the peel was done and was absolutely delicious!

  • Elizabeth
    December 16, 2012

    I'm just straining out the lemon peels from a batch of your limoncello, and had a crazy thought to save the peels to candy them. Is that crazy? Think it would work?

  • December 22, 2012

    I just finished making these. . . . uhm.... they haven't even been sugar rolled for an hour and ive consumed probably close to 20 bits. I love them! Never thought i'd be making these..I am however, a huge fan of citrus fruits...

  • Rodney
    January 29, 2013

    Do you have any suggestions as to what to do with the syrup?

    • Tracy
      January 29, 2013

      Put in in sparkling water. Poke holes in a hot poundcake and pour some syrup on. Put it in a cocktail!

  • Debbie
    February 19, 2013

    Hi, Do you think it's OK to reuse sugar water for additional batches?

  • suzi
    November 22, 2013

    blood oranges would be great too

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