3 large oranges
4 cups water
4 cups sugar + 1 cup sugar for coating the peel
Yields about 3/4 – 1 lb. candy, depending on how big your oranges are
Grab your oranges. Give them a rinse under cold water, then wipe them dry.
Whack about a quarter-of-an-inch off each end.
With a sharp paring knife, cut through the peel and into the white pith. Slice through the peel from the top of the orange to the bottom. Don’t cut all the way through the pith and into the fruit.
Make the same cut a few inches over.
Cut a shallow semi-circle into the top of the orange at the edge of the peel to connect the two cuts you just made.
Wiggle your finger under one edge of the peel. Work your finger down under the peel to separate it from the fruit.
Keep going until you’ve removed the whole piece of peel.
Repeat this process until you’ve removed all the peel in nice, whole pieces and do the same with the other oranges.
Slice each piece of peel into thin strips.
Put a few inches of water in a medium-sized pot and set it on the stove over high heat to boil. (Sidebar: Look for a post soon on how to make an easy homemade polish for your embarrassingly tarnished copper pots.)
When it’s boiling, drop in all the sliced orange peel.
Give the pot a stir to soak them all.
Boil for about 20 minutes.
Drain the peel in a colander. Run under cold water until the peels are cool to the touch (this will take a minute or two). I should note that many recipes have you blanch the peel a few times.
At this point, your peels will be floppy and kind of sad looking. That’s just fine. Leave ‘em in the colander while you whip up the sugar syrup.
Put the water and sugar in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. Whisk to combine. Bring the syrup up to a boil, whisking occasionally until all the sugar melts.
When the sugar syrup is boiling, carefully add the blanched peel to the pot. (Be careful! Boiling sugar is like napalm.)
Give the peel a stir. Lower the heat a little. You want to maintain a rolling (but not furious and bubbling over) boil.
Boil the peel for about 45 minutes like this. (Keep a good eye on the pot after 30 minutes. Your peel may take more or less time, depending on how thick it is.) Your kitchen will start to smell amazing after a few minutes.
The peel is done when it’s translucent. It should look jellied and clear, like candy.
Grab a baking sheet. Line it with a few paper towels. Set a rack on top of the towels.
A few at a time, fish the peel out of the syrup with a fork.
Set the peel on your prepared rack to drain. Repeat until all the peel is on the rack.
Let the peel drip dry for about 15 minutes.
Remove the sticky rack with the orange peel from the sheet pan and set it aside on the counter. Put a clean rack in its place on the pan. (You don’t want to use the same, sticky one for the finished candy.)
After about 15 minutes, put 1 cup of sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Drop a few pieces of the peel into the sugar.
Roll the peel around to coat on all sides.
You want each piece to be completely coated, like this. Give the peel a tap against the side of the bowl to knock off the extra sugar.
Set the sugar-coated peel on the clean rack.
Repeat with the rest of the peel until it’s all coated in sugar. Space them out so they’re not touching. Leave them out just like this, uncovered, to dry out overnight.