“This is a great bitter-sweet combo. Dip peel in melted chocolate for an after-dinner treat.” —Claire Saffitz, assistant food editor
- 2 large red or pink grapefruits
- 1 cup sugar, plus more for tossing
Cut peel from grapefruits into ⅜” strips leaving ¼” white pith attached. Place in a small saucepan; add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, then drain; repeat twice.
Bring peel, 1 cup sugar, and ½ cup water to a boil in same saucepan; reduce heat and simmer until peel is translucent, 15–20 minutes. Drain; transfer peel to a wire rack and let dry, 2–4 hours. Toss in more sugar.
Nutritional ContentCalories (kcal) 5 Fat (g) 0 Saturated Fat (g) 0 Cholesterol (mg) 0 Carbohydrates (g) 2 Dietary Fiber (g) 0 Total Sugars (g) 2 Protein (g) 0 Sodium (mg) 0Reviews SectionAbsolutely fantastic and super simple. Thank you, Half-sour Saffitz :)!blattinumMichigan12/19/19This is awesome,!!! Been making this for years....JoannenicholasOhio05/04/19
- 8 grapefruit peel halves (from 4 grapefruits - see note in instructions below)
- 3 1/2 cups sugar (divided)
Slice your grapefruit peels into any shape you like, but since the most common way to eat fresh grapefruits is to cut them in half, this recipe starts out with grapefruit halves. Collect the peels in plastic or glass containers in the refrigerator until you have enough to proceed with the recipe.
After you've eaten the grapefruit, scrape the leftover membranes away from the white pith and peel using a serrated grapefruit spoon or any small metal spoon. Compost or discard the membranes. Note: the thicker the layer of white spongy pith the peels have, the better for candied grapefruit peels.
Slice the peels into 1/2-inch wide strips.
Put the grapefruit peel strips into a large nonreactive (no non-enameled aluminum, cast iron, or copper) pot. Add water to cover the peels by approximately 1 inch (the peels will float - press them down lightly with a spoon to guesstimate the water level). Bring to a boil over high heat. Turn off the heat and immediately drain the peels in a colander.
Return the drained peels to the pot and again cover with water and bring to a boil. Drain the peels again. Repeat this process two more times (four times total). In addition to softening the peels, the changes of water during this cooking process remove some of the bitterness from the white part of the peels.
After the fourth time you have boiled and drained the peels, return them once more to the pot. Add 2 1/2 cups of the sugar along with enough water to again cover them by 1 inch. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat (do not boil), stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 2 hours.
After 2 hours of cooking in the sugar syrup, the peels will be very soft and the white pith will have become translucent. Let the peels cool completely in the syrup. You can store them in the syrup in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks, or proceed to the next step below.
Lift the peels out of the syrup with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a rack over a baking sheet. The leftover syrup is very tasty and can be reserved for another use. Let the peels drain and start to dry out a little for 4 hours or overnight. The baking sheet is to catch the dripping syrup.
Put the remaining 1 cup of granulated sugar on a plate. Roll the candied grapefruit peels in the sugar, coating them completely but shaking off any excess.
Store the candied peels in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 3 months. They are still safe to eat after that, but the quality declines.
Enjoy the candied grapefruit peels on their own as a treat, or you can also chop them up and add them to dessert recipes. Grapefruit sorbet with candied grapefruit peel bits is a sophisticated and delicious way to use the candied peels.
Another option is to give the candied grapefruit peels a chocolate coating. To do this, skip the step of rolling the candied, drained peels in sugar. Instead, once they have drained and dried on the rack, dip them in melted chocolate. Let the chocolate coating cool and harden before storing the chocolate-coated candied grapefruit in airtight containers.
How to make candied citrus peel
How many times have you thrown away the peel after eating an orange? Or tossed half a lemon once you’ve squeezed out the juice?
When it comes to fruit, what we typically think of as trash (or, hopefully, compost!) actually has a second life just waiting to be discovered: candy.
That’s right. Those vibrant citrus peels can be transformed into sweet, bright little bursts of flavor that make an excellent addition to cookies, scones, and cakes. Not to mention, they’re delightful treats when eaten on their own.
If you can boil water, you can candy citrus peel. It's just about that simple!
You’ve likely come across candied citrus peel in your baking, or maybe you’ve seen it stocked on the shelves of gourmet food shops. Rather than buying it, however, it’s much more fun to simply make it at home.
What is candied citrus peel?
Candied citrus peels have been transformed from bitter, astringent rinds to soft, sweet candies by simmering in a simple syrup. Blanching the peels (i.e., submerging in boiling water for a short period of time) removes their bitter taste, making them easier to eat on their own.
You can candy just about any type of citrus peel — lemon, grapefruit, pomelo, kumquat — although oranges are the most common. Typically fruits with thicker peels make the best options for candying, as thinner skinned fruits like clementines can sometimes become tough after boiling. And if possible, start with organic or locally grown citrus, as fruits that have been sprayed with chemicals can have an unpleasant residual taste.
How to candy citrus peel
Candying citrus is incredibly simple, and comes down to just three easy steps: preparing, blanching, and then simmering citrus peels in sugar and water (simple syrup). Here’s a step-by-step breakdown, using oranges as an example.
Step one: Remove and slice the peel
The simplest way to remove the peel is to just use a sharp paring knife, though a vegetable peeler will also work. Cut long strips of the orange peel from the top of the fruit to the bottom, being careful to only cut the peel and not any of the actual fruit. If some of your peel still has the flesh sticking to it, no big deal — just use your knife to scrape it off. In addition, try not to get too much of the white pith if you can no need to worry if you do take the pith along with the peel though, as its bitterness will be blanched away.
Then, use a sharp knife to slice the peel into 1/4”-wide strips.
Step two: Blanch the peel
Next, we’ll blanch the peel as mentioned, this process removes the bitterness. Add the peel strips to a medium saucepan, then cover with water. Bring to a boil, and let the peels boil for 5 minutes. Drain the peels, then return to the saucepan.
We’re going to repeat this process twice more for a total of three times, with each round removing more of the bitter taste. Cover the peels with water, bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Then drain. Cover, boil, and drain once more.
If your peels are still super bitter (this may especially be the case for grapefruit), you may want to blanch one or two more times.
Ta-da! Soft, squishy peels that are ready to officially be candied.
Step three: Candy the peels in simple syrup
Finally — time to add some sugar! Empty the blanched peels into a bowl, then add equal parts (by volume) sugar and water to the saucepan. You really don’t need a recipe for this — just make sure you have enough of the sugar-water mixture to cover your citrus peels. For reference, I had about 1 1/2 cups peels, and I used 2 cups sugar (396g) and 2 cups water (454g).
Stir the sugar and water over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, then add the peels and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer. Now pretty much all you have to do is wait. Stirring occasionally, let the mixture simmer for about 40 to 60 minutes. The peels are done when they’re soft and translucent around the edges.
While the peels are simmering, set up a drying rack with parchment paper or foil underneath to catch any dripping syrup. Once the peels are ready, drain off the excess syrup in the sink and carefully spread them out on the drying rack.
If you'd like, you can also save the discarded syrup to use as a fruity addition to summer drinks.
If you’d like to roll the peels in granulated sugar for some extra crunch, wait until they're cool enough to handle, then toss in a bowl of sugar to coat. Otherwise, feel free to leave them as they are.
How to use candied citrus peel
Now that you have your homemade candied citrus, there are so many ways to use it! Our advice:
- Incorporate into recipes calling for candied citrus peel, such as: Easy Florentines, Blueberry Coffeecake with Lemon Streusel, Orange Walnut Whole Wheat Scones, Molasses Pound Cake
- Use to garnish cakes and other baked goods. One example is our Pistachio Orange Cheesecake, which suggests candied citrus slices or peels to top.
- Chop and fold it into batters and doughs for additional flavor and texture. You can get creative with how to use it some of our suggestions include: between layers of Vanilla Trifle Cake, Morning Glory Muffins, Easy Whole Wheat Apple-Raisin Bread.
- Eat it! You’ve basically just made candy, so feel free to eat it accordingly. If you like sweet-sour candies, you can add some citric acid to your sugar coating for an extra punch. Or dip the peels in tempered chocolate for a classic treat.
While it can be easy to reach for store-bought versions of ingredients like this, sometimes making your own can be even more tasty and fun. Especially when it’s this simple to pull off. You can keep unused citrus rinds in a plastic bag in the freezer until you’re ready to candy them. And bonus: because of the high sugar content, candied citrus peels last for a long time — up to a few months at room temperature when stored in a cool, dark place, and even longer in the refrigerator or freezer.
Have you candied citrus peel before? What are your favorite ways to use it? Let us know in the comments below!
- 2 grapefruits, 3 oranges, or 4 lemons
- 4 cups sugar, plus more for rolling
- 4 cups water
Using a paring knife, make 6 slits along curve from top to bottom of each citrus fruit, cutting through peel but not into fruit. Using your fingers, gently remove peel. Reserve fruit for another use. Slice each piece of peel lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide strips. Using a paring knife, remove excess pith from each strip and discard.
Place strips in a large saucepan, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then drain. Repeat twice.
Bring sugar and water to a boil, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Stop stirring. Wash sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Add strips to boiling syrup, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer gently until strips are translucent, about 1 hour. Remove from heat, and let strips cool in syrup. (Strips in syrup will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 weeks.)
Using a slotted spoon, transfer strips to a wire rack placed on a rimmed baking sheet. Wipe off excess syrup with paper towels, then roll strips in sugar. Arrange in a single layer on a wire rack, and let dry for at least 30 minutes.
Candied Grapefruit Peel: Turn Bitter Into Sweet
Whether we’re in the mood for it or not, we’re all learning valuable lessons about ourselves during this Coronavirus lockdown. Nathan is learning that, after spending most of his adult life dreaming about a job that would allow him to work from home, he actually does not enjoy merging his home and work lives. My friend Jess is considering selling her car now that she sees how little she needs to drive in order to go about her day. Others are getting creative without a gym, finding that a long run through their neighborhood is just as effective as a treadmill session. Some are reassessing their formerly busy schedules, and setting new standards for how—and with whom—they’ll spend their time moving forward.
I see all these epiphanies as the sweet part of this bittersweet time. Obviously, there is plenty of “bitter.” I won’t list the ways any of us might be fearful or anxious right now. We all know how it feels, well enough.
Instead, I’m listening to Ariana Grande and trying to “come through like sweetener to bring the bitter taste to a halt.” The truth is, I have found just as much joy as sorrow during my 31-days-and-counting in quarantine.
I’ve spent as many afternoons singing in the shower as I have hiding in bed.
I’ve laughed out loud with friends via FaceTime as often as I’ve wallowed in loneliness.
I’ve felt as creative as I have felt helpless.
And like, everyone else, I’m making personal discoveries daily. One simple lesson in bittersweetness has revealed itself in my kitchen:
As it turns out, I will always, under all circumstances, dislike cooking dinner, but I’m very good at and truly enjoy creating non-essential treats.
So here’s a non-essential treat. This candied grapefruit peel recipe softens the bitter rind of juicy grapefruits into a tangy, sweet treat—like a natural gummy worm. I especially love that it makes use of a food item that would otherwise be tossed out. During a time when no resource should be wasted, maybe this isn’t such a non-essential recipe after all.
I adapted the recipe from a David Lebovitz post. David is a magnificent baker and writer, and has been living in Paris for years. To say I adore him is an understatement. His books are light-hearted and fun, and sprinkled with pretty, fool-proof recipes. The Sweet Life in Paris and L’Appart are my favorites.
Candied Grapefruit Peel Recipe
From January to March, Tucsonans are harvesting fruit from their citrus trees. Mature trees yield much more than a family can consume, so it’s common to have friends dropping off as many bags of oranges, lemons, and grapefruit as you’re willing to take. In the past I’ve used this bounty to make marmalade, but this year I tried something different, so here is my candied citrus peel recipe.
This only requires the peel, so you have the segments for another use. It takes nose to tail cooking to the orchard! I decided to juice grapefruit segments. I was working with six grapefruit. I don’t have an electric citrus juicer, so I put the segments in the food processor, blitzed them until smooth and then strained the slurry to end up with wonderful pink grapefruit juice.
You could use this process with other citrus peel, and lest you think you would have to spend months nibbling away at candied citrus peel, I plan to substitute diced candied grapefruit peel for candied ginger in this amazing scone recipe, or maybe candied ginger and candied grapefruit peel together in an amazing scone?
This and other candied peels could also make an amazing fruitcake. Or add some pizzazz to a pound cake or muffins. You also might try dipping the candied grapefruit peel in tempered chocolate.
Candied grapefruit peels
This all started with Homesick Texan. No wait, this all started with last year’s orangettes, to this day one of the most popular posts on this site. No wait, this all started with a lifelong (can you say that? when you’re just 31?) love of grapefruits. My favorite way to eat them is the same exact way my mom showed me, halved in a bowl with each section loosened with a arched, double-serrated grapefruit knife. First, I’d pop all of the sections into my mouth in probably under two minutes flat. But then, then came the “grapefruit soup,” I’d call it. Mom would help us scrape all of the residual grapefruit bits into the bowl, then squeeeze every last bit of juice, discard the empty shell of a peel and this, this my friends is the best grapefruit juice you’ll ever drink in your life. You must drink it straight from the bowl. I could live on it, and it alone.
Which brings us to the Homesick Texan, who mentioned in December that “everyone knows the juiciest, largest and sweetest ruby red grapefruit comes from the Rio Grande Valley” and it was funny, because I hadn’t known that at all. But given the price of the grapefruits we’d been seeing in the stores ($2 a pop), their sorry state (dented but still appallingly shiny with wax) and their flavor (average at best) I was just itching to find out. So, we ordered ourselves a little sampler from South Texas Organics and quite a few days later were presented with exactly what we were promised: the very best ruby red grapefruits, from South Texas.
But the coolest part was their sheen–there wasn’t one. Sans wax, pesticides and all the other you-don’t-want-to-know-whats they spray on most grapefruits, the peels beckoned me. I remembered how delicious those candied orange rinds were and had to go at it again. Using a Jacques Torres recipe as my guide, I boiled them four times. I candied them for two hours. I let them dry out on racks for another two. I rolled them in sugar. My apartment walls still smell dimly of grapefruit oil, and well, sadly, that might be the only good thing that came out of this experiment, save a few pretty photos.
They are inedibly bitter. I cannot swallow more than a bite. Even half of one and my face looks like one of those babies eating lemon (video removed, such a bummer!), plus or minus a few chin rolls and wrinkles. And I’m so sad about this, because, well, I had some high hopes. I had expected some level of bitterness greater than the oranges, hey, I know these are grapefruits afterall, but I hadn’t expected not to be able to get down a single one. And I love bitter things, as does Alex. But these, these didn’t work. So, if you have had any luck candying grapefruit peels, tell me your secrets, will you? I await your input with bated breath.
6. Grapefruit Cleaning Supplies
If you came to this list with any knowledge of alternative uses for citrus peels, it’s likely that that knowledge covered ways of using citrus peels for cleaning. The acidity in grapefruit makes them an excellent, healthy alternative to many chemical cleaners out on the market currently.
Grapefruit peels can be infused in vinegar to make a cleaning solution that is safe to use around kids, and it won’t stink up your house like straight vinegar can. You can also mix grounded up dried grapefruit peels with borax and baking soda to make a scouring scrub to clean countertops, sinks, and bathtubs. Use it the same way you might use any bleach-based scouring powder just make sure to get off all of the scrub when you’re finished.
Easy Snack Recipe: Candied Pink Grapefruit Peel
The first time I tasted one of these babies was at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. It was heaven. Tangy and sweet, between jelly and fruit leather, the candied grapefruit peels were the perfect ending to a fine dinner with a cup of hot mint tea. I asked for seconds right away but you know how seconds are – sometimes they aren’t enough and you can’t ask for thirds. I had to have more! I opened up the Chez Panisse Desserts cookbook I have in my kitchen and browsed the index. There, Candied Citrus Peel, recipe on pages 64-65. The recipe was so simple that I had to try it. Worse came to worse, I would have lost the peel of two grapefruits. Big deal. Since grapefruits are in season, I had grapefruit for breakfast yesterday and today, saved the peels in a bowl and had all I needed to get started. And since I’d rather share the recipe than my candied grapefruit peel (I’m being honest people), here is the recipe for you!
Candied Pink Grapefruit Peel
- 2 pink grapefruits
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar (the book also offers 2 Tbsp corn syrup as an alternative)
- About a cup of sugar for sprinkling the peel
1. I removed the peel with a sharp knife, slicing right into the white pith and ate the flesh (as I said, breakfast).
2. I dumped the peel in a pan, covered it in cold water, covered everything with a lid and brought it to a gentle boil. At that point, I left the kitchen to check my emails and came back when my home smelled like a grapefruit candle but you should probably stay nearby. The book recommends you simmer the peel until the white pith begins to look translucent.
3. I drained the peel and using the same (empty) saucepan, made a syrup by boiling the sugar with the 1/2 cup of water and the cream of tartar. While waiting for the sugar to dissolve and the liquid to bubble, I scraped off the white part of the peel with a spoon and sliced the peel in long stripes. Then I added it to the syrup and stirred it with a wooden spoon so the peel was completely coated and floating in the syrup. I lowered the heat to the lowest setting and then I’m afraid I left the kitchen again – more emails – but I’m not completely insane. I knew this step would be faster and unforgiving if messed up so I came back ten minutes later.
4. The thing is, you have to cook the peel slowly until the peel is translucent and tender. After 10 minutes, it wasn’t there for me so I left it to simmer another 10 minutes. Alice Waters recommends you cook until the syrup reaches 230F on a candy thermometer but I don’t have one. When I saw the peel was translucent and the syrup much thicker, it looked good to me.
5. I drained the peel and faster than lightning, tossed the peel strips in a salad bowl with the last cup of sugar to end up with sugar all over the peels. (Your dentist will really hate this recipe, you better have a good electric toothbrush.)
6. Last but not least, I painstakingly removed every single peel with a fork and lay it on a rack to dry out. Every peel nicely spaced and not touching. I wish there could have been a quicker way to do this but I just sang my ABCs and was done in 15 minutes or so. Tomorrow they’ll be dry enough for me to store in a good airtight box, then I can tuck them away in a steel-reinforced visitor-proof safe behind the chimney wall and only I will wear the key around my neck. Or I could share with my friends who are coming over for dinner. I’m not sure yet. Time will tell. Time and my dentist.