Clementines are the de facto citrus sponsor of Christmas in my part of the world. Everyone gets one in the toe of their stocking and they’re what keep our hands and mouths busy between the assorted holiday meals. When I was a kid my brothers and I ate enough of these mini-oranges that if the crates they’re sold in, came in bigger crates that’s how my mother would have bought them.
But what about the mountains of peel we created?
There must be some way to put them to good use. I thought about marmalade at first but that’s such a particular, specialised preparation that I’d rather stick to tradition and use the intended Seville oranges. Instead, because the product is attractive and the process is pretty easy, I decided to candy the peel.
This may look like a great recipe but please don’t sit your kids down with a box of clementines and force them to eat them on the spot. Keep a bag in the freezer and add peels to it as you go. Between the freezing and three stages in boiling salted water I’m unconcerned with any sanitary issues.
Candied Clementine Peel
Adapted from the candied citrus peel recipe in Pat Crocker’s Preserving.
Finally a use for all those clementine peels we churn out over the Christmas season. The rosemary adds a bit of savour and a seasonally-appropriate piney-ness.
Prep time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes Total time: 1 hour 20 minutes plus overnight to cool
Yield: a bit more than one cup, close to 300 ml
- 10 – 15 clementines worth of clementine peel
- 250 ml (1 cup) water
- 300 g (1 1/4 cup) granulated sugar
- 50 g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar for dusting
- 1 small sprig rosemary
- water and salt for boiling peel
- Cut the peel into strips that are just under a centimetre (1/4 inch) wide. I find it easier to do this with the white pith facing up.
- Place peel in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, barely cover with water and add a generous pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, boil gently for two minutes, and then strain. Repeat process twice more for a total of three batches of salted water.
- Combine the water and first 300 g of sugar in the same pot (having cleaned it very well) and set it over medium heat. Stir very frequently until the sugar dissolves and the syrup goes clear. Bring to a boil and add the peel. Reduce heat to low.
- This is a good time to introduce the rosemary to the second dose of sugar (50 g) so that it will take up some of the rosemary’s fragrance.
- The peel will need to simmer in the syrup for about an hour. The goal is to gently evaporate the water from the pan and concentrate the syrup. Stir the peel once at the fifteen minute mark but don’t disturb it after that. I found a bit of time can be shaved from the hour simmering by bumping the heat up a notch every fifteen minutes but take care that the contents don’t scorch.
- As the hour mark approaches spread a sheet of parchment or wax paper on a tray or large plate and evenly spread the sugar on the paper. Remove the pot from the heat and using tongs carefully transfer the peel onto the sugar. You should toss the peel and sugar around with the goal of evenly coating the peel and avoiding clumps.
- Slide the paper onto a cooling rack and allow to cool overnight. Package in airtight container and refrigerate for a couple weeks or freeze for up to a year.