Friday, 21 December 2012

Candied lemon peel

This morning, I went into the fridge and noticed three beautiful lemons in my roommate's drawer. Not usually a big deal, but since my roommate is gone for the holidays and isn't coming back until after the New Year, those lemons were destined for an unkind fate. Time for the hippie to step in.

Now, lemon juice is easy to find a use for. You just throw it in your next recipe, or squeeze some into your morning tea. If you're adventuresome (like I am), just eat the lemon like you would an orange. The rind is harder to place, and even more difficult is the pith (the white stuff). I believe in using the whole animal, fruit, or anything else. So the best option this time was to make candied peel!

First, I began by embarrassing the lemons (also called removing the peels). I scored the lemons in quarters and took the peels off as close to the lemon flesh as I could manage. That left me with naked lemons that I could enjoy with my lunch!
They do look a little embarrassed, don't they?

Next, I brought some water (2 cups of it, to be exact) to a boil, diced the lemon peel and threw them into the pot. I boiled them about 3 minutes, to remove the bitterness from the peels. (There is a bitter oil in the skin that comes out in the boiling.) Then I strained them and wound up with slightly-cooked, no longer bitter peel dice. I also got a cup of lemon tea, which I saved for later...stay tuned for why!
When cooking, always try to find uses for things. It's good for the environment, and often good for you, too! This lemon tea isn't finished yet. Stay tuned!

The next thing I did was put a cup and a half of boiling water back into the pot and added some sugar (I used 2 cups, but I think next time I'll use less). When it boiled, I added the strained lemon peel and brought it back to a boil. I boiled the peel for about 10 minutes, until it looked like it was starting to turn translucent.
The peel starts to look translucent when it's ready. This peel is just about ready!

I got a re-used glass jar ready by cleaning it really well. (It was about a pint jar, which I think was a little big for this project. Next time I'll use a smaller one.) I fitted it with a little funnel so I could make sure not to make a big mess when I put the peel in.
This funnel, specifically for making preserves, has saved my backside a number of times. Definitely worth the investment if you don't have one!

When the lemon peel was ready, I strained the syrup into a glass measuring cup, separating it from the peel.
Be sure to save your syrup! Even if you're not planning to use it for anything, this syrup is delicious in so many different preparations. I'll be using mine on pancakes!
I spooned the peel into the jar and then poured enough syrup in over it to cover it with about 1/2" head space.
This jar was just a little bigger than it needed to be, as you can see! The peel will float, and shaking it won't help much, but once the solution cools, it becomes thicker and the peel suspends more easily.
I put the jar on a rack to cool, and I gave it a little shake every hour or so. It didn't take very long at all before the bottle was quite cool and the button had popped down (meaning it had properly sealed).
This jar sealed beautifully. As you can see, it was originally from a store-bought sauce that my roommate loves.

I had just a little syrup left, so I used it to sweeten the tea from earlier and had a nice lemon cuppa!
I don't like tea. But I do like this!

The candied peel is now in the jar, floating about. I'll let it sit there for at least a couple of days to really let the syrup penetrate the peel. I wager some shaking will also happen, a couple of times a day. When I use the peel, I'll strain the juice out and use the syrup for pancakes or in another recipe. Never throw it out! It's way too yummy for the drain to get it!

In case you're planning on making this also, I've written down the actual recipe below. Enjoy!

Candied Lemon Peel
Makes about 1 cup peel
3 lemons
3½ cups boiling water
1½-2 cups sugar (I used turbinado)

Score the lemons into quarters and carefully remove the peel, keeping it as intact as possible and keeping as much of the white pith as you can. Set a medium saucepan over medium-high heat with 2 cups boiling water. Dice the lemon peels and add to boiling water. Boil 3 minutes and strain water from peel (keep this for a tea, if you like). This will take some of the bitterness out of the peel. Put 1½ cups of fresh boiling water into the pot and stir in sugar. Bring to a boil, then add lemon peel once again, boiling for about 10 minutes, or until the peel is beginning to turn translucent. Strain peel, reserving syrup, and spoon into a clean sealing jar, filling the jar to within ½" with syrup. Seal and let the flavours blend for a couple of days before using. Strain syrup from peel for use in recipes, and keep the syrup for use as a sweetener or flavouring in your favourite recipes.


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