Good Morning everyone! I am thrilled to say that I am almost done with tax papers, and though I still have other big projects to delve in, this was the most onerous, and I am hoping to resume my two-posts-per-week rhythm!
These divine Candied Meyer Lemon peels are a recipe I produced and photographed a few months ago for the Winter 2016 issue of Edible Hawaiian Islands magazine (see the cover below). Candied citrus peels (orange, tangerine, lemon) used to be a regular in my “Christmas Cookies” baking spree of some years back, in another life, and the most popular, but I had not made them in some time. So it was a pleasure to bring out the old recipe and get all sugared up in the kitchen. The best part was eating them afterwards. These things are gone in a flash!
As you can see, I gift wrapped them in little bags, and used raffia in a divine shade of purple that well complemented the almost orange yellow of the Meyer lemons.
I still see and feel the first time I had candied citrus peel. I was about eight years old, and had started taking piano lessons. The teacher lived in this beautiful old home next to the church. I would walk there after school, and he would patiently take me through endless scales. I still see the room, the way the window light hit the piano, and the metronome on top of it. One afternoon he came brought out from the kitchen a flowered rectangular tin and offered me some candied orange peels his wife had made. I took a few and thanked him, popping them into my mouth.
Have you ever seen that cartoon of the dog who, when given a treat, becomes so ecstatic that he hugs himself and, moaning in pleasure, starts floating up into the air before softly landing and wanting more? That was me. The wise maestro knew, and offered me more. He even left the tin unattended on top of the piano while I played and he went into some other room on some errand or other. Of course I grabbed more and stuffed my mouth! After all, I was playing piano, not singing. At the time I thought I was being quick and smart, but it is obvious now that he knew, as did his wife. They were such a kind older couple, different from most of the people in the village, certainly up a few notches on many levels, the most important of those being their peaceful kindness and warm friendliness. Whenever I think of them, I see their faces and feel their energy so clearly. Unfortunately, I cannot recall their names, though I know I did for many years after. I do not think they live there anymore, if they are even still alive, that is.
After the first time, the tin with the candied orange peels showed up a few more times, probably depending on when his wife made some. But after I stopped going to lessons a couple of years later, it took years before I would taste candied orange peels again. They remain to this day one of my favorite treats, if not my favorite.
Though it takes a little patience, the recipe is easy and uses few ingredients, essentially the citrus peel, sugar and water. You can find both recipe and step-by-step images at this page on the Edible Hawaiian Islands website.
A few extra pointers:
- You have to peel the citrus before squeezing the juice. But because once peeled the fruit is not easy to squeeze, I used a potato ricer, and squeezed all the juice into a bowl with a sieve on top. The juice can then be poured into containers, or ice cube molds, and refrigerated or frozen. I ended up using some of the juice to make these wonderfully tender Ricotta & Lemon Squares, and the rest to make lemonade, using also the lemon flavored syrup leftover from the candying process.
- To save the syrup: let it cool to room temperature, then pour it into a container while filtering through a large sieve to remove the larger bits of peel left in it. Just store in a cool place. It’s sugar, it will not spoil. It will crystallize al little, but no matter, it will melt again. This way, nothing gets wasted!
- When you strain the candied peels out of the hot syrup (use a spider strainer) place them on parchment paper. Don’t let them cool yet, but roll them in sugar as soon as they are cool enough to touch without burning your fingers. Then place them on a cookie rack to cool and dry completely.
- The dried sugared peels need to be stored in a cool and dry place, preferably in an airtight container (like a tin), especially if you live in an area with high humidity. Otherwise, they will tend to “sweat” a little.
- If you should want to dip them in chocolate, then you separate them well onto the cookie rack (no rolling in sugar in this case) and let them cool and dry completely. Then you can dip them in tempered chocolate.
Edible Hawaiian Islands is one of my favorite food magazine, and definitely my favorite in Hawai’i. If you live, or spend any amount of time in the islands, and love good food, I heartily recommend it as the best and unbiased source for edible recommendations.
I hope you have enjoyed these images and that you will enjoy the recipe. I wish a Happy Easter to all who celebrate, and a happy weekend to everyone else!