Why isn't my candied orange peel turning translucent consistently, dammit?
November 17, 2012 8:41 PM   Subscribe

Whenever I make candied orange (or other citrus) peel, it always takes longer than recipe-writers seem to expect for the peel to become translucent, and some never becomes translucent at all. (a) What gives? (b) Is the not-translucent peel cool to store and eat?

I do the whole multiple-simmerings-in-water thing, but am not super diligent about timing for that, so perhaps that's a factor. I also leave all the pith on---perhaps that, too, makes a difference.
posted by kenko to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Yeah, if you're leaving the pith on, that's the whole problem right there.

What I do is cut the orange into quarters, then use the edge of a spoon to scrape out the inner fruit part. I do the first simmering or two as whole quarters; when it comes time to scrape out the pith, it makes it much easier to work on the larger pieces. Again, I use the edge of a spoon to scrape it out. Then cut the peel into strips for that last simmering.

The non-translucent peel, the peel with the pith, is safe to eat, but it'll cook faster, taste better, and last longer if you scrape off the pith.
posted by easily confused at 8:48 PM on November 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yep, about what I'd expect to see!

By the way, before they dry? Try dredging them in regular granulated sugar (not confectioner's!) or dip them in chocolate (semi-sweet is best). That'll reduce the stickiness of the outer surface.
posted by easily confused at 8:52 PM on November 17, 2012

But there's so much less of it with the pith on! (That's one of the pluses of Seville oranges, I thought—thicker rinds. Or maybe that means: even after de-pithing them.) And some of them do transluce. Become translucent.
posted by kenko at 8:54 PM on November 17, 2012

I leave the pith on too (we like it better that way!) and yours look exactly like mine do, and they also take longer to become translucent.

Around 50 people have been eating various batches of these every year for the last twenty years, and no one's died yet, so I think you're good. They're cooked and candied; they're pretty safe.
posted by punchtothehead at 8:57 PM on November 17, 2012

I think it depends on how bitter you like the final candied peels to be. If you're not after a more bitter flavor, I'd suggest removing more of the pith. It's a flavor and appearance decision, not a safety issue.
posted by quince at 8:58 PM on November 17, 2012

Oh, I see. I had assumed that translucency was how you could tell that enough of the water had been replaced by sugar in the peels.
posted by kenko at 9:01 PM on November 17, 2012

I usually use navel oranges, myself --- larger oranges = larger peels = easier to scrape out! I've tried a couple different types of orange, but there's no real difference in the end. As quince just said, removing the pith with make a less-bitter flavor in the end; either with or without, though, it's safe to eat.

Just for the heck of it, I've also tried tangerines (way too thin, they tear to shreads too easily); lemons (actually turned out pretty well!); and limes (interesting flavor, but almost as easily torn as the tangerines). Grapefruit worked well, too, but is more bitter than the oranges. I also find it's tons easier to cut the peel into strips with sissors, rather than a knife.
posted by easily confused at 9:02 PM on November 17, 2012

Use a veggie peeler and you will get perfect pithless strips, work for me.
posted by Cosine at 10:33 PM on November 17, 2012

As noted above, Cosine, I don't want pithless strips.
posted by kenko at 10:37 PM on November 17, 2012

For what it's worth, you ARE actually getting the translucent-ness the recipes talk about: it's only the orange-colored outer rind that does it, and if you look closely your rind IS clear. So yes, you are cooking yours right.
posted by easily confused at 5:31 AM on November 18, 2012

posted by kenko at 9:14 AM on November 18, 2012

Pastry chef David Lebovitz says you should use a candy thermometer. From his blog:
People have asked me to put in recipes the time it takes to candy fruits. But that’s like asking someone how long it takes for water to boil. It’s pretty difficult to gauge, and no one wants to ruin a hard-won piece of fruit, so an inexpensive candy thermometer, which are available at most supermarkets, cookware stores, and even hardware stores, is the best way to judge when fruit is candied.
230 degrees F is apparently the magic number. Your experience with the candying process taking longer than expected is entirely normal.

(Also, your peel looks great!)
posted by purpleclover at 11:21 AM on December 3, 2012

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