Whenever you have a recipe that calls for fresh squeezed lemon juice, save the zest to make this candied treat. Just zest the fruit before juicing, I usually use a peeler, so nothing goes to waste. The zest from any citrus fruit, or a blend, can be used in this recipe.
½ cup citrus peels (lemon, orange, grapefruit)
1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ cups water
½ cup course sugar, such as turbinado, for rolling
- Use a vegetable peeler or channel knife to remove the zest from the citrus. If using a vegetable peeler, cut wide stripes that can be cut to a size of your choosing.
- Fill a sauce pan (non-aluminum) with water and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once boiling, add the zest all at once and stir to cover. When the water comes back to a boil, drain the zest (reserve the liquid for Simple Syrup). In the same sauce pan, combine the zest and cold water and bring back to a boil. Once boiling, drain the zest again. This process is reducing the bitterness and softening the zest.
- Now, in the sauce pan combine sugar and 1 ½ cups water. Over medium high heat bring mixture to a simmer. Once the water is simmering add the softened zest and stir to coat with the simple syrup.
- Reduce the heat to low and cook gently until the zest is soft and translucent, about 1 hour. For larger peels the zest should appear translucent about ¼ inch in from the edge.
- Remove from the heat and let the zest cool in the syrup. If you’re not using it right away transfer the zest and syrup to a container and store in the refrigerator.
To coat in sugar, remove the zest strips from the syrup and arrange them on a drying rack. Let drain for about 30 minutes, then roll in course sugar. Allow the sugared zest to dry for 1-2 hours before using. To store, keep in an air tight container, at room temperature for several weeks.
Whether stored in syrup or, dried and sugar coated, candied zest is economical, easy to make and so very versatile. The sugar-coated strips of citrus peel can be used as garnishes for ice cream, desserts and cocktails. Or, use the candied citrus zest, stored in syrup, in all kinds of recipes- from ice cream to baked goods. It is a quick way to add a taste of citrus to any recipe.
Your turn! If you have any awesome citrus zest recipes or tips, let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear what you’ve got!