When we were first house-hunting over five years ago, my then-4-year-old daughter said that her must-have house requirement included a lemon tree. I’m not exactly sure why she wanted one so badly, but as luck would have it, we did in fact get a place that had a little Meyer lemon tree in the backyard. The tree was neglected, looked more like a bush than tree, but we gave it some TLC and this season our love for our little tree has come to fruition (ha!), as it produced a ridiculous amount of lemons. I gave away over 10 lbs. to friends. I then sold over 20 lbs. to Bi-Rite, but I’ll save those details for a future post. The tree still has a bunch of lemons on it.
I decided to try my hand making candied lemon peels. I also had a delicious cara cara orange from BiRite, so I saved the peel to also candy. I found a bunch of recipes online, all which varied slightly. I ended up picking and choosing what to follow as I realized that it isn’t an exact science. You basically boil the peels to remove the bitterness, then simmer them in a simple syrup solution, then leave ‘em out to dry.
5 meyer lemons
Juice your fruit (save it for something yummy later), then use a paring knife to cut out the fleshy part and leave about 1/8″ thickness of pith. The pith is the white, bitter part of the fruit. Cut your peels to whatever shape you want. I cut rectangular strips for the orange, and random little triangles for the lemons. Boil the peels for 7 minutes, drain, and then repeat. This removes the bitterness. (I read that if you want to candy grapefruit, you are supposed to boil it something like 4 or 5 times because the pith is incredibly bitter.)
Next you are going to make simple syrup to simmer the peels in. Recipes differ in how much to use, but basically it’s a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water. If you have fewer peels, then you don’t need as much syrup.
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
Bring sugar and water to boil, add peels, bring back to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer for 15-20 min or until very tender (like you can easily stab it with a fork). Remove from heat, let cool for 10 min. Using a slotted spoon or a mesh skimmer, transfer peels to wire rack over baking tray to catch drips.
If you’re impatient like me, you can speed up the drying process by putting them in a 200 degree oven for about an hour. Otherwise it may take overnight for it to be ready.
Toss peels in sugar and see it sparkle!
They can be stored in an airtight container for a long time. I’ve read for months. I would definitely say at least 2-3 weeks. But they will be gobbled up long before that.
Don’t forget to save the citrusy simple syrup after you remove the peels. Along with the juice, you can use it for: lemonade, fizzy lemon spritzer, lemon drop cocktails, sweetening your tea.
Here are the recipes that I found helpful:
They are slightly time consuming, but not very hard. And you will definitely impress your friends when you serve them homemade candy.