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How to Make Candied Lemon Peel

Updated on September 26, 2017
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Jan has been cooking and writing about food for over twenty years, and has cooked on multiple television stations, including Food Network.

Candied Lemon Peel

Homemade candied lemon peel is bright and assertive in flavor, and much better than anything from the store. Try this simple recipe and see how incredible the homemade version is!
Homemade candied lemon peel is bright and assertive in flavor, and much better than anything from the store. Try this simple recipe and see how incredible the homemade version is!

The Only Recipe You'll Need

If you've never had homemade candied lemon peel, you're in for a treat. Especially if you have had the store-bought stuff that reeks of artificiality and preservatives. The homemade version is delightful - bright and full of flavor, tart and sweet.

Citrus rinds and peels have been candied for centuries, mainly as a means by which to use every last speck of a tropical fruit that was rare and hard to come by. Lemons and oranges were often a holiday treat, and candying the rinds was a method of getting every last bit of citrus flavor it was possible to get.

Commercial production took over in the industrial revolution, and it was possible to buy it year round, so candying at home dropped in popularity. Which is too bad - the homemade version is far superior to anything available commercially. Once you try this nifty little trick, you'll see how easy it is to do it yourself.

Ingredients

  • 3 large lemons
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 cup water

Directions

  1. Wash lemons thoroughly. With a sharp knife and a cutting board, slice the lemons into thin slices. I got about 8 slices per lemon.
  2. With the tip of a very sharp knife, slice away the flesh of the fruit and the white pith from the yellow rind. This is easiest with a super sharp knife, and almost impossible with a dull one. Trust me - I made this mistake.
  3. Place the trimmed fruit into a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, and immediately drain off the hot water.
  4. Repeat this boil and drain process twice more.
  5. Return the lemon peels to the stove and add one cup of the sugar. Add a cup of water, and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer the lemon peel in the sugar syrup for about 20 minutes, or until the lemon slices become translucent.
  6. Using a fine mesh strainer, drain off the sugar syrup. That syrup makes incredible lemonade or ice tea - so hang on to it!
  7. In a small bowl, using a fork, toss the lemon peels with the remaining half cup of sugar. Shake off excess sugar and lay the peels on a plate to dry for a couple of hours.
  8. Cover tightly in an airtight container until ready to use.

Fresh, Organic Lemons

Since you'll be consuming the peel, organic lemons may be the best bet. Look for bright, unblemished fruit for the best results.
Since you'll be consuming the peel, organic lemons may be the best bet. Look for bright, unblemished fruit for the best results.

Slice Thin - But Not Too Thin!

Thin strips are great, but if you cut them too thinly it's too difficult to cut away the white pith - which is very bitter and can ruin the final result.
Thin strips are great, but if you cut them too thinly it's too difficult to cut away the white pith - which is very bitter and can ruin the final result.

Remove the Bitter, White Pith

With the tip of knife, remove as much of the white pith as possible. This is extremely bitter, so this is an important step. Take your time and you'll have far better results.
With the tip of knife, remove as much of the white pith as possible. This is extremely bitter, so this is an important step. Take your time and you'll have far better results.

Begin Rinsing, Boiling and Repeating!

Place the lemon zest into a small saucepan and cover it with cold water. Bring this to a boil, drain completely, and repeat. You'll do this a total of three times.
Place the lemon zest into a small saucepan and cover it with cold water. Bring this to a boil, drain completely, and repeat. You'll do this a total of three times.

Make a Simple Syrup

After the lemon peel is drained the third time, you're ready to begin the candying process. Return the lemon zest to the saucepan. Make a simple syrup of one cup white sugar and one cup cold water.
After the lemon peel is drained the third time, you're ready to begin the candying process. Return the lemon zest to the saucepan. Make a simple syrup of one cup white sugar and one cup cold water.

Simmer - About 20 Minutes

Bring the lemon peel, sugar and water to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and simmer for about 20 minutes. It'll depend a bit on how thick yours is cut, but you're looking for the lemon peel to turn translucent.
Bring the lemon peel, sugar and water to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and simmer for about 20 minutes. It'll depend a bit on how thick yours is cut, but you're looking for the lemon peel to turn translucent.

Drain - and Keep that Syrup

Once translucent, drain the lemon syrup away from the peels. This is best with a fine mesh strainer over a container. That syrup makes the best lemonade, by the way - so hang on to it!
Once translucent, drain the lemon syrup away from the peels. This is best with a fine mesh strainer over a container. That syrup makes the best lemonade, by the way - so hang on to it!

Toss with Sugar

Once the lemon peels have drained, toss them with about half a cup of sugar. You don't need much - just enough to cling to the damp syrup on the outside of the candied lemon peels.
Once the lemon peels have drained, toss them with about half a cup of sugar. You don't need much - just enough to cling to the damp syrup on the outside of the candied lemon peels.

Candied Lemon Peel Tutorial

Toss with a Fork

I've seen a lot recipes for candied lemon peel that tell you to mix the candied peels with the sugar by hand. I normally don't mind using my hands - but it gets everywhere! I find a fork does just as well.
I've seen a lot recipes for candied lemon peel that tell you to mix the candied peels with the sugar by hand. I normally don't mind using my hands - but it gets everywhere! I find a fork does just as well.

Lay Candied Peel Out To Dry

Remove the excess sugar by shaking it gently, and lay the candied lemon peel out to dry. It should only take a couple hours for them to firm up and be ready.
Remove the excess sugar by shaking it gently, and lay the candied lemon peel out to dry. It should only take a couple hours for them to firm up and be ready.

Ready to Use

The candied lemon peel can be used as a garnish for cakes or cupcakes, or chopped and used as an ingredient in fruitcake. Fruitcake is actually delicious when made with real ingredients!
The candied lemon peel can be used as a garnish for cakes or cupcakes, or chopped and used as an ingredient in fruitcake. Fruitcake is actually delicious when made with real ingredients!

© 2017 Jan Charles

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