I would’ve never thought of a use for citrus peel—other than zest—had I not been confronted with a grapefruit whose flesh was too tart to eat. My neighbor’s tree produces an abundance of golden globes, but they really are just too bitter and sour to have plain. I envisioned doing something with this low hanging fruit, but wasn’t sure what until I came across candied citrus peel recipes.
Many recipes call for lemon, but really, most citrus, including oranges and grapefruit, work well. After a few times making them, I’ve found that candied citrus peels shouldn’t just be reserved for dessert; there are many uses. Candied orange peels go well in a Manhattan. You can also chop them up and add them to carrot or zucchini bread recipes, add them to pasta recipes that need zest and a pinch of sweet, serve them with an espresso and biscotti for an Italian-style treat, dip half in dark chocolate to make them a fancy gift, drop a few in iced tea, or add to cocktails as garnish and flavor. Basically, you can make a large batch of these and store them for the right occasion.
Five large organic grapefruits
4 cups of water
3 cups of sugar
Wash grapefruit (or whatever citrus you’re using) well. Using a zester or a vegetable peeler, cut off long thin strips. Try to remove the zest with as little pith (white part) as possible. Bring one to two cups of water to a boil and add grapefruit strips. Boil for 10 to 15 minutes and strain. Repeat twice with a cup or so of water; this will soften the peels and remove some of their bitterness. Remove from water and cut off as much pith as possible. While doing this, heat up two cups of sugar with one cup of water to make the simple syrup. Add strips of citrus and cook, over low heat, for about 20 minutes or until strips are translucent. Transfer them with a fork to a wax paper-lined baking sheet and let cool. If using as a dessert, role them in more sugar. Store in an air-tight container or jar and they’ll last for months.