Preserving Magic: Candied Citrus (Lemon Slices, Orange Rinds & more)

We ~ culinary creatives ~ may take both chemistry and magic for granted. Working with primordial elements of Fire, Water, (produce from the) Earth, Air and inspired by etheric elements of Passion & Creativity

We COOK! Transforming a potpourri of ingredients into something attractive, delicious, and nourishing.

Click Here!2-14-2010
This is the second of our entries for the 2010 Lemon Love Fest at Check out their growing collection of delish Meyer Lemon recipes.

Bri, who was my wonderful daughter-in-law, has become my kitchen muse. Quite a feat – of which she’s certainly capable – as I haven’t had the impetus to cook much in years.

Candied Meyer Lemon Slice drying on cake rack

This spring season’s harvest of Meyer Lemons are my current focus. With a basketful of these sunny beauties, something MUST be done while they’re at their freshest best!

As mentioned in the Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette post, I have IDEAS! These particular projects are developing in stages.
– The first stage: making Candied Lemon Slices…and as bonuses, Candied Orange Rind & Golden Citrus Jelly.

Bri made Candied Pumelo Rind just a year ago causing quite an enthusiastic stir among her readers. We’re still getting comments and interested queries on that post.

Candying citrus rinds – and even whole slices – is time consuming, but very easy to do. I’ve been working on my lemon & orange projects for the past three days in reasonable stints of an hour or two, here and there…including the photography for this article.

Art of Preserving by Jan BerryStarted with a basic recipe – Candied Citrus Peel – from one of my favorite cookbooks: “Art of Preserving” by Australian author, Jan Berry (Ten Speed Press, Berkeley CA).

The ingredients:
ANY organically grown citrus fruit may be used – blood or navel oranges, pink grapefruit, kumquats, lemons, limes, mandarins, pumelos, tangerines. Jan suggests 2 large, so for smaller fruits use a few more.

~ I used 4 organic Meyer Lemons from our own trees.
~ Water (filtered)
~ 2 cups (1 pound / 500 g) organic granulated sugar, which has a very pale blond color. You may use white sugar if you prefer.
~ An extra 1 cup (8 ounces / 250g) of the sugar

After selecting citrus with perfect rinds and washing them clean, slice the stem end & bottoms of the fruits off.

Simple ingredients for making candied Meyer lemon slices or peel

For candied whole slices, carefully cut 1/8 inch (1 cm) to 1/4 inch (2 cm) thick rounds of fruit. The thinner rounds work for tender skinned fruits like Meyer lemons (kumquats, limes & mandarins). The tougher, thicker rinds of grapefruit, oranges, pumelos, and tangerines need to be cut at the 1/4 inch (2 cm) width.

If you’re only using the rinds and not planning on preserving whole slices, then score the citrus peels vertically in 3/4 inch (6 cm) sections, peel rinds from the fruit, trim off the extra white pith at the top & bottom of each slice before cutting into 1/8 inch (1 cm) or 1/4 inch (2 cm) wide strips. (see Candied Orange Rinds photo at the end of this post)

Meyer lemon slices ready for boiling in water before candying

Place prepared whole slices / peels in a wide enamel or stainless steel saucepan with 8 cups (2 liters) of water. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Cook for 15 minutes or so until the rind is tender. Test by piercing one with a sharp knife tip, skewer, toothpick, cake tester…whatever you have handy.

While the peel is cooking, set up a cooking rack next to the stove with paper towels under the rack (for the citrus slices) or on the rack for (citrus peels). Gently scoop the cooked citrus pieces out of the hot water with a slotted spoon and place on the rack to drain.

Transfer 2 cups (500 mL) of the citrus cooking water to a smaller saucepan. Add 2 cups (500 g) of sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat. Add the drained citrus slices or peels. Stir to coat well. Let the sugar water & citrus sit at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight.

* * * * * *
Be forewarned: This is not a project to do IF you have ant problems in the kitchen. The sugar syrup is a perfect ant bait!! In our California Mediterranean-type climate, we have predictable invasions of ants during our winter & spring rains.

In general I like and admire ants for their cooperative dedicated natures and strong, flexible, little bodies. Have…ever since I was a little girl…as long as they stay outside and keep to themselves! But when ants start tracking through the house, over my computer keyboard, sending scouts across the kitchen counters and sinks, up through the drain or electrical outlets in the bathroom, moving whole colonies into my potted plants as their winter condos….that’s it!

I use deterrents & enticements, which take a bit more time, or my vacuum cleaner as a last resort rather than poisons to “urge” them out of our space. But that’s a discussion for another post….

* * * * * *
Returning to our candied citrus project:
After 8 hours of steeping, place the saucepan over low heat and cook until the slices / peel have absorbed all the syrup, about 30 minutes. Adjust the heat, so the syrup doesn’t boil over. Watch carefully towards the end of the cooking time, so the slices / peel don’t burn.

Meyer lemon slices with simple basic ingredients and after cooking in sugar syrup

NOTE: I made an extra cup of syrup: 1 cup water+1 cup sugar as I didn’t think it would be enough for my lemon slices to cook in. So there was plenty of syrup left over after the half hour of cooking.

Put some waxed paper or aluminum foil on the counter or cooling rack next to your stove top.

Remove the peel / whole slices from the syrup with a slotted spoon or tongs letting the excess syrup drip back into the pan. Place gently on the wax paper / foil. Be careful, the peel will be hot and can burn your fingers. If you’ve preserved whole citrus slices, pick all the pits out of the cooked fruit rounds with the tip of a sharp paring knife, taking care not to damage the slices. Discard the pits. Then Let the candied slices / peels rest at room temperature for 12 hours.

Coating candied Meyer lemon slices with organic granulated sugar

The next day, coat each piece in extra granulated sugar. Dry on a cake rack for 3 hours before packing the candied slices / peels between layers of waxed paper in a clear air tight container.

Homemade candied lemon slices coated with organic granulated sugar

Store in a cool, dry place for up to 2 months. Use in a special cooking project, give as gifts, or serve as a sophisticated elegant sweet treat.

BONUS Projects:
Candied Orange Rind & Golden Citrus Jelly/Syrup

Inspired by how easy candying the lemon slices was, I decided to use that wonderful extra syrup to candy the rind from some lovely Navel oranges I’ve been enjoying this week.

I followed the same instructions, but this time cut the peels into strips instead of working with whole slices.

Boiling Navel orange peels in sugar syrup

Didn’t photograph all the steps of this process as the steps are detailed in the recipe and simpler than working with the whole lemon slices.

Here are the Glittery Orange Peel Candies. YUM! They won my youngest son David’s approval (now 30), who remembers hating marmalade when he was a little boy.

Homemade candied Navel orange peel

The next morning, after the sugar syrup had cooled off, looked to see how much was left in the saucepan. Discovered it had cooled into a gorgeous thick jelly, which I poured into a large 16 ounce jar for use in another culinary adventure.

Golden Citrus Jelly-Syrup from Meyer lemons & Navel oranges

Hmmmm? Wonder what’s next…
Shall I mix some with sparkling water, use it as a cake topping, a fruit tart glaze or drizzled over fruit salad & yogurt, in an ice cream milkshake or poured on a sundae, sophisticated pancake syrup ~ the possibilities are endless!

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13 thoughts on “Preserving Magic: Candied Citrus (Lemon Slices, Orange Rinds & more)”

  1. Anita ~ Thanks for your kind words. Glad you’re reading FWB still. Sorry for the lapse in posts…had to cocoon for awhile after the memorial.

    I’m having FUN though I certainly won’t be able to keep up the pace Bri did. I tend to work in creative ‘bursts’ so the posts may be a bit erratic, but they’ll keep coming.

    Marc & I were chatting yesterday about what he may want to do with the blog as time goes by. All of us want to keep it going as it’s such a wonderful tribute to Brizy.

  2. Thanks! Nicisme & Bee ~ Can’t wait to finish up my next two baking projects.

    One’s partly done….

    Been waiting two days for the decoration phase. But things keep happening to fill my days. MUST finish them up tomorrow. Hope they turn out as beautifully as I’m envisioning. Then we get to eat some!

  3. Over several years I have looked for a recipe for candied orange/lemon slices. This is the first one that actually looks like what I want. I had tried to do it before but never managed to get the correct ratio of sugar/water/time. But as I used the previous failures for very sweet drinks or additions to ice cream, it was never a loss.

  4. Carl ~ This is a super easy recipe. If you can find Meyer Lemons, their tender skins cook more quickly than other lemons…and taste better too. I’d suggest cutting the slices a bit thicker than you would for thicker, tougher skinned lemons.

    Also, don’t make my mistake of putting the candied peels in the refrigerator. A disaster with the humidity!! Candied citrus keeps very well at room temperature (as long as you don’t get ants in the winter like we do in California.) Now that it’s citrus season again, I’m planning to make more myself. So delish!

  5. Wonderful Post, Cynthe! I can’t wait to try these if my sister sends more Meyer lemons from California.
    After 50+ years of marriage and fighting ants, we have found a humane ant deterrent: simply put plain cornstarch at all entry points the ants use.
    They hate walking over cornstarch, and won’t do it.
    Best Wishes

  6. Great tip on the cornstarch. Suzanne Thanks! Hope you get more Meyer Lemons. They’re the best. We moved to Arizona last year and I brought my two potted Meyers with me. Got a few lemons as it’s taken them a bit to adjust to the new climate and mile high elevation. Hope to put up a green house this year, so winter will be better for them next season.

  7. Ants represent patience in Buddhism I believe…..Their existential methodology in building and rebuilding; improving and perfecting is a zen way of finding patience in life. But last time I made candied lemons… I had anything but:

    A few weeks ago, I made a small test batch of candied lemons as a base for lemon relish and lemon curd for a couple of event jobs. When I awoke the next morning, I found my (home) kitchen had became over-run with ants. Including my poor drying lemon pieces.

    I started over with a clean kitchen which was a bit time consuming. I put out bait that I dislike because it is chemically so this cornstarch tip has certainly made my day!!! Not to mention, I now see what I have been doing wrong the last few times I have made these! I will slice the lemons thicker and have a bit more “patience” with the candy process.

    As for the ant batch, I scrapped nothing because I usually have to pay for my candied ants…. but hey Shot, Score! I got some for free.

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