Candied Orange Peel (Scorzetta d’Arancia Candita)

candied peel

Last summer, I made candied orange peel to use in my cannoli filling and I promised to provide the recipe. I’m making good on my promise, only six months later!

Candied orange peel is easy to make and lasts a long time if stored properly. Served with dessert wine, it’s a tasty treat at the end of a meal. It’s commonly added to dessert fillings and is a classic ingredient in cakes such as cassata and pannettone. Candied peel (scorzetta candita) is especially fresh and delicious in Sicily due to the abundance of lemons, oranges, mandarins, and other citrus fruits on the island.

I’ve made candied orange peel a few times now, and though it is a simple stove top process, you need to keep an eye on it to avoid caramelization. Most recently, I made candied orange peel dipped in chocolate as a birthday gift for my sister. I packaged the peel in a cute glass jar which also prolongs the shelf life of the peel when stored in the refrigerator.

You can use the following recipe for other types of citrus too; I’d like to try making candied citron and grapefruit in the near future.

Candied Orange Peel

Makes about 2 cups

3-4 organic navel oranges
11/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup water + extra water for boiling process

Wash the oranges and peel them with a knife, leaving the pith (the white membrane) attached to the peel* and making sure any fruit is removed from the peel. Cut the peel into strips about 1/4 inch wide.

peels with pith, before slicing into strips

peel with pith, before slicing into strips

Place the strips of peel in a non-reactive pot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Boil for one minute, then drain off the water, keeping the peel in the pot. Repeat this process three more times. This removes bitterness from the peel.

orange peel on the stove top

orange peel on the stove top

Remove the peel from the pot and set aside. Combine 3/4 cup water and 11/2 cups granulated sugar over medium-high heat, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar. When the sugar is fully dissolved (the water will go from cloudy to transparent), return the peel to the pot and turn the heat down to medium-low.** Simmer for 20-25 minutes, keeping an eye on the pot. The candied orange peel is ready when it’s taken on a glossy sheen and absorbed most of the syrup; you may need to adjust the cook time. If you have any left over simple syrup, save it! It’s a great addition to cocktails, cakes, and fruit salads.

Place the peel on a cooling rack over aluminum foil to catch drips. Let dry for a minimum of 5 hours; overnight is best. The orange peel will still be slightly tacky, but no longer wet.

candied orange peel drying

candied orange peel drying

At this point, you can store the orange peel in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to six months. Or, if you love chocolate (I do!), melt some semi-sweet chocolate chips and dip the peel in it, then set the peel on parchment paper and refrigerate until hardened and store as described above. Enjoy!

*Some recipes call for removing the pith but I find that keeping it on makes the peel stronger and more durable when cut into strips.
**The right temperature will differ depending on your stove top. I get a nice simmer around 3-4 on my dial.

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