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 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.
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.
See recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
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 10 hours or overnight, then drain.
5. Make another simple syrup and simmer the peel in it for 1 hour, 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.
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.
Here are a few things you can make with mixed peel:
- Fruitcake: Mixed peel is a traditional ingredient in fruitcake, and adds a delicious citrus flavor to the cake. Check out our post on how to decorate a British Christmas cake.
- Hot cross buns: Mixed peel is a common ingredient in hot cross buns, which are a type of sweet bun that are typically eaten on Good Friday.
- Granola: Mixed peel can be added to homemade granola to add a sweet and tangy flavor.
- Cookies: Mixed peel can be used to make cookies, such as Italian biscotti or Scottish shortbread, to add a citrusy twist.
Leftovers: Mixed peel can keep for at least 6 months if it's stored in airtight container in a cool, dry, and dark place.
Freezing: Mixed peel can be frozen for up to 1 year in an airtight container or plastic freezer bag.
- 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.
Other Candied Fruit Recipes
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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.