Lemon and orange mixed peel is one of those recipes you will be really glad you made from scratch. This recipe is easy to do; it just requires patience, as the process covers two days.
If you love mixed peel, make sure to check out our stollen and panettone recipes.
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If you have purchased store bought peel in the past, and didn't like the taste, give this recipe a try. The taste comparison is like day and night! I will guarantee that your children will be sneaking pieces for snacks.
If you like British baking, you'll find yourself making this recipe at least twice a year for your Christmas and Easter baking. And as an added bonus, when you make this recipe, delightful citrus smells waft through the house--a total stress reducer.
If you're looking for other candied fruit recipes, make sure to check out our recipes for candied orange slices, candied ginger, and candied lemon slices.
It only takes a few ingredients to make mixed peel, which are easy to find any time of the year.
- Fresh Citrus: Select medium to large sized lemons, oranges, limes, and/or grapefruit. For this post, only lemons and oranges were used.
- Granulated Sugar: White cane sugar works best. Don't substitute with brown sugar or liquid sweetener because they won't candy the fruit.
How to Make
- Scrub and dry the citrus, then remove the peels from the fruit. Cut each piece into ¼ to ⅛ inch strips, leaving the pith on.
- Put the peel into a pot and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes and drain. Repeat two more times, reserving ½ cup of the citrus liquid on the last time. This process is called blanching, which reduces the bitterness.
3. Make a sugar syrup by combining ½ cup of the citrus liquid and ½ cup of water with 1 cup of sugar. Stir over medium high heat until the sugar is dissolved, then bring it to a boil. Remove from heat.
4. Add the peel to the simple syrup. Press it down with a large spoon, so the it is submerged into the sugar syrup. Cover and let it steep in the sugar syrup for at least of 10 hours or overnight, then drain.
5. Make another simple syrup and simmer the peel in it for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until it's jewel-like and translucent. Drain and let it dry on two wire cooling racks set over baking trays to catch any drips.
6. Once it has dried out for a while, but is still tacky, toss it in white granulated sugar.
7. Let it finish drying out on the wire cooling rack. If you live in a humid climate, or if you want to speed up the drying process, take it off the drying baking racks. Place it directly on the baking tray and bake in a 170°F oven for ½ hour or up to 2 hours.
8. To test for doneness, drop a piece onto a plate. You should hear a clink when it hits the plate. If not, bake it longer, and when it is sufficiently dried, take it out of the oven to cool.
Once it is cooled, store it in an airtight container. You can choose to add extra sugar. Keep the peel in a cool, dry place for a few days, in your fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to six months.
If you want to use some of your candied orange and lemons for holiday gifts, find some pretty jars and fill them up with this special treat. Tie on a bow, then add a gift tag and a card with ideas on how to use it in baking.
If you can't find it at the grocery store or haven't the time to make mixed peel, fresh citrus zest can be a substitute in yeast breads, or for certain recipes use good quality marmalade.
Mixed peel is another word for candied citrus peel, usually made from lemons and oranges, and is commonly found as an ingredient in British baking for Christmas cake, hot cross buns, and Dundee cake.
Historically, it was made to preserve the citrus peels, giving them a longer shelf life and eliminating waste. The citrus peel is blanched, steeped, and cooked in a sugar syrup until the sugar replaces the moisture in the peel. It is then dried out and tossed in sugar.
If you can't eat candied fruit, try using dried apricots or dried peaches that are cut up small like mixed peel. It would have a similar mouth feel to the candied lemons and orange peels.
The main reason orange peels are bitter is they haven't been boiled enough times to remove the bitterness. As a rule of thumb, grapefruit and citron are boiled 5 times, lemon and lime peels 3 times, and oranges twice. The pith is the part of the citrus peel that makes it bitter, so you could use a sharp Y-shaped peeler to remove only the orange peel, but it would result in thinner mixed peel.
What citrus fruits can I use to make this recipe?
The most common citrus for mixed peel is oranges and lemons, but limes and grapefruit are also wonderful. Citron and tangerines can also be used with great results when you want to change things up.
Why make your own mixed peel?
The main reason to make your own mixed peel is it tastes much better than store bought because it is fresher and has no chemicals, corn syrup, or additives.
It also helps to reduce food waste by using the whole fruit, and makes a wonderful homemade gift instead of a plate of cookies for the holidays.
How do you use this ingredient?
You can dice it up, leave it as is, or julienne it. Some popular recipes that use this ingredient are Christmas cake, stollen, panettone, Genoa cake, hot cross buns, Simnel cake, and orangettes.
How can I remove the peel from the citrus?
The best way to remove peel from citrus is to score the fruit in 4 to 8 sections with a pairing knife, then peel it off. You can also choose to cut off both ends of the fruit, then carefully cut the peel off from top to bottom using a pairing knife. If you don't have access to a pairing knife, you can also peel the oranges and tangerines by hand.
- Buy organic citrus, if possible. If not, scrub the citrus well to take off chemicals and wax.
- Score the rind before peeling it to make it easier to remove.
- Leave on the pith; it yields a thicker piece of fruit. Blanching removes the bitterness.
- Blanch orange peels twice, lemon and lime peels three times, and grapefruit and citron five times. These other fruit peels are more bitter than orange peels, and need more blanching time.
- Keep the leftover orange and lemon simple syrup for drinks, a poke cake, or a citrus curd.
- High humidity or short on time? Bake for one to two hours, or until dry, at a low temperature (170°F).
- Test for doneness by dropping the dried fruit on a plate. It should make a clinking sound when it is dropped.
This recipe has been inspired by New Zealander Tricia Curtis' recipe on her blog Naturally by Trisha.
Looking for other British recipes? You'll love these ones!
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Lemon and Orange Mixed Peel
- 5 medium to large lemons
- 5 medium to large oranges, navel or Minneola
- 4 cups granulated sugar
- Scrub the lemon and orange rinds to remove wax and chemicals.
- Cut the lemon rind off the lemons with a sharp knife. If you want, peel the oranges by hand. Cut the citrus into strips about ¼ to ⅛ inch wide.
- Put it in a saucepan and cover with water. Boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Drain off the water. This is the blanching part.
- Repeat step #2 two more times. Put the peel in a bowl. The each time you blanch it some of the bitterness is removed. This is why you need to blanch grapefruit and citron more than oranges.
- Stir together 1 cup of filtered water, and 1 cup of sugar in the saucepan. Stir the mixture to dissolve the sugar, then bring it to a boil. Dump the peel into the boiling syrup, remove from the heat, and leave it to steep with the lid on for a minimum of 10 hours. Drain. Most of the sugar syrup will have been absorbed into the outer skin, but it will still have some liquid in the pot to drain off.
- Make another sugar syrup by adding 1 cup sugar to 1 cup filtered water. Gently stir the mixture over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and put the steeped peel back into the pot. Simmer for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. You want it to be jewel-like and translucent.
- Drain the fruit and spread out on two wire cooling racks to dry overnight. When it is still tacky, toss it in 2 cups of granulated sugar, then let it finish drying completely. The finished product should be hard enough to make a sharp plink when it's dropped on a plate.
- Put the peel on parchment-lined cookie sheets and bake it in the oven, at the lowest setting (170°F or 77°C) for 2 hours to dry it out.
- If you would like to add additional sugar, sprinkle some more on top.
- To make the rind easier to remove, score it before peeling.
- To have a thicker piece of fruit leave on the pith. The blanching process will remove the bitterness.
- Blanch grapefruit and citron five times, lemon and lime peels three times, and oranges three times.
- Use the leftover simple syrup for drinks, a poke cake, or a citrus curd.
- Keep the peel in an airtight container with extra sugar and keep in a cool, dry environment for a few days, in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Serving sizes and nutritional information are only an estimate and may vary from your results.
This post was originally published on August 15, 2017 and was completely updated on December 7, 2018 with new photos and information. It was republished on December 10, 2021 with refreshed content and reformatted photos.SaveSave
Hi Emma! Really looking forward to putting this in my Christmas cake! Can I use a dehydrator instead of the oven to dry the peel? Thanks
Denise, We have never used a dehydrator for this recipe, but I don't see why you couldn't. Please, let us know how it turned out!
This is the perfect addition to Christmas baking! The sugary peels are zesty, and they're crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Thank you, Beth! We're glad you enjoy this mixed peel!
The lemon peel is tart, and the clumps of sugar balance out the tartness. The orange peel is my favorite, it is citrusy, and love the chewiness of the peel, it's yummy!
Thank you, Alex! We are glad that you enjoyed the mixed peel so much!
This was incredibly delicious, I’m making a British recipe soon and I needed this in purée so I decided to embark on this project. My experience was better with the oven, baking them 30 min at a time at 170F. Perfect results! It clinked! Very grateful for this recipe!
You are very welcome, Mauricio! So glad you enjoyed the peel.
Very easy recipe! Thank you!
Thank you, Megan! Thanks for making our recipe.