Oh, I have a real sweet tooth when it comes to Italian Candied Orange Peel.
In fact, visions of biscotti, spumoni,
and panettone swirl about in my mind.
But there are so many other ways to enjoy candied orange peels.
Have you ever eaten panforte or torrone?
Each of these divine Italian sweet treats is a reason to craft Italian candied orange peels.
However, there are a lot of other ways to give life to homemade Italian candied orange peels.
My Nonna Santa, from Sicily, always made the best and my mom continued the tradition just the same!
Candied orange peel can be coated in chocolate but definitely use dark or milk chocolate, I have to admit white chocolate on these is not my fave!
Naturally, the Italian candied orange peel is the perfect candidate to introduce into a biscotti recipe.
The candied freshness gives way to the crisp exterior of the biscotti and you end with a few bites of a more chewy-like cookie.
Oh my god, I literally am craving these peels and I have not even made mine yet!
So here is what we better do, let’s cook a batch, and I’ll share my Nonna’s recipe for this orange treat!
Italian Candied Orange Peel Recipe
While I will discuss how to make Italian Candied orange peels in this post, I would be remiss if I missed adding a few other items.
First, just as you can make candied orange peel, you can also make candied grapefruit.
My mothers used to make this every Christmas.
Additionally, limes and lemon taste amazing when processed as I will share.
So, don’t just stop at oranges, try grapefruits, limes, and lemons as well, they all are delicious.
My Nonna Santa used to tell me that the reason the Italian Candied Orange peels exist is that ‘we waste nothing in Sicily.’
Food is a precious commodity, and honestly, it’s pretty much the focus of our lives, (oh I know that is bad, lol).
However, as you read on you will understand why we had oranges so readily available, maybe too many!
But it is our culture, planning meal to meal before it happens and incorporating everything we have in our pantries, farm, refrigerator, wasting nothing.
So, rather than composting the peel of an orange, a grapefruit, or lime or lemon, try this recipe, you’ll be happy you did.
Don’t waste, create, cook, enjoy!
P.S. Just saying if Nutella is in your pantry, these are worth a dipsy-doo in it. Are you with me?
Truly Italian Candied Orange Peel Recipe
As I’ve prelude, my recipes are inherited from my great, great, nonna’s recipe box, who was born and bred in Sicily.
When my Nonna, not my great Nonna, but my grandma immigrated to the United States, she brought the recipes with her.
My family’s rich history in Sicily is spread through the village of Cefalu throughout Messina, and Palermo.
Naturally then, you might understand my obsession with food, as it’s in my genes, and I wear it well, lol.
Now, Sicily is known for its blood oranges, and I am guessing this is how the recipe started.
We had an abundance of these oranges available and naturally, our family consumed them.
As stated before, we waste nothing!
Thus, the peel of the oranges is as foodie perfect as the flesh of the blood orange or any orange.
Beyond Blood Oranges in Sicily
However, our region also produces navel, mandarin, and Valencia oranges.
Did you know that in the plains of Catania, and the villages of Enna and Siracusa blood oranges are a key agriculture component?
Yes, they are grown there and distributed worldwide.
Today, recreating what was a treasured treat in our home is a gift I can share.
The old saying in Italian (no worries, I am just going to share it in English), waste nothing, use everything.
So It’s time To Manciàri (eat) as we say in Sicily
Grab your best large oranges, and a few other ingredients, and get ready to enjoy this holiday treat, which really can be made at any time of the year!
Italian Candied Orange Peels
- FOR THE ORANGE PREP
- 5 Large thick-skinned Oranges (blood, valencia, etc)
- 4 c. water divided (1 c
- 2½ c. white granulated sugar divided
- FOR THE SUGAR PREP
- 3 C Sugar
- 1 C water
- 2 Optional ingredients and here's what they do
- Vanilla Extract *1/2 teaspoon optional they kind of taste more like a creamsicle when you do this.
- 1/2 tsp of Orange Extract optional
- OPTIONAL if you want to crystalize the oranges
- 1/2 Cup of Sugar for coating
- Thoroughly wash and dry the oranges.
- Next, cut off the tops and bottoms of each.
- Then, score each orange peel from top to bottom using a sharp knife or an orange peeler.
- The objective is to cut each of the oranges into 4 or 5 large sections.
- You'll be separating the 'orange skin with some of the white (pith) from the orange flesh in each section.
- Now that you have removed the orange from the skin (the peel), set the orange pieces aside to eat or use other recipes and you will now work with the orange peel and pith sections.
- Cut it into 1/4" sections.
- I use kitchen scissors, it is fast and easy.
- Do this for each orange and each section.
- Then, place all the prepared peel into a pot.
- Place just enough water to COVER the skins, not more.
- Bring to a boil.
- Once it begins boil cook for one minute at the boiling level.
- Then turn off, drain and repeat the process 2 more times.
- This takes the bitter right out of the peel.
- After these are done, and drained, set them aside for a few minutes while you prepare the sugar mixture.
- Overall Objective getting sugar/water combination to 230°F for Orange Peel
- In a small stockpot bring both the water and sugar to boil.
- Watch this as you do NOT want this to boil over sugar is a total mess to clean off of a stovetop (been there, done that..)
- Keep the heat constant once you get to 230°F add in the orange peels, and turn the heat down to keep it at what I will term 'simmering' level, not boiling in any way.
- *You can do this without a thermometer I have plenty of times because my thermometer broke and I can't find the same one. All you do is cook this combine the sugar and water and keep it at medium-high heat, not boiling but like a simmer (you do have to watch so it does not go over the pot), you'll see as you stir that it changes into a ball like consistency (trust me, you will see it) at that point you toss in the orange peel and follow the rest of my directions as below.
- When you put the peel in it will not be translucent but after about 35-45 minutes of a low heat simmer, you will see your peels turn translucent, that's when they are done.
- Now, take a slotted spoon and transfer the peels to a rack.
- (I use a large pizza tray that has to drop through slots and I set it atop a lined parchment paper pan so that cleanup is just the pan.
- You can also use a cookie cooling rack with parchment paper beneath.
- You will see that there is a good amount of orange-flavored syrup left in your pot, reserve that.
- Allow the peels to just sit for anywhere from 12-18 hours until they are almost dry (they should still be a little tacky at this stage which is when we want to crystalize them.
- To Crystalize these Peels...
- Now, grab a zippered storage bag, toss in the sugar.
- Take the peels about a spoon at a time, add them into the sugar bag.
- Seal. Shake and then remove from the bag.
- Do this same procedure for all the remaining peels.
- You can either use the peels now or keep them in reserve for up to a week in an airtight storage container.
- Reserved Orange Syrup: Store the reserved orange syrup in the refrigerator to add flavor to your favorite beverages and cocktails, such as iced tea, club soda, or mixed drinks. Remember as Italians we waste nothing, and again from the peel to the syrup, all can be used, no waste!