27 January 2007
Bitter Orange Peels in Syrup
After writing about my experience candying orange peels with Umm Hana, you didn't think I'd leave you without a recipe? Certainly not. And if you are wondering, having read my description, why anyone would want to undertake such a laborious and lengthy process, I assure you the results are worth it. Umm Hana recommends doing this in a large batch (get it all over with), and then preserving them to enjoy throughout the year.
Perfect for anyone who loves marmalade or covets orangettes, the bitterness of the peels is tamed by the sweet syrup. Some people find the syrup too sweet and just enjoy the peels, while sugar-fiends pour lots of extra syrup on top. This is traditionally served on its own, but I like to cut up the peels and stir them, with a spoonful of syrup, into some tangy thick yogurt.
Bitter Orange Peel in Syrup
Bitter oranges have a unique flavor unlike regular oranges- grapefruits can make a good substitute.
14-16 bitter oranges, Seville oranges, or 6 grapefruits
5 cups sugar
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1. Using the fine part of a box grater, grate the zest from the oranges until the colored part is removed. Halve the oranges, if you want you can squeeze the juice from them to use in the syrup, but you don't have to. Remove and discard the fruit's pulp making sure to scrape away the interior white pith, so that you just have the bare peels. Cut the peels into half again (so they are quartered, or in thirds for larger grapefruits). Prepare a needle and thread.
2. Roll the peel up starting from the pointed end and string onto the thread. Continue rolling up and threading the peels so you have several long garlands.
3. Submerge the peels in a pot of water and bring to a boil, let boil 3-4 minutes. Remove the peels, drain the water, and repeat this blanching process at least three times in order to remove any bitterness. Pat the peels with twoels so they are very dry and set aside.
4. Add reserved orange juice (if using) and enough water to the pot to cover all the peels (don't actually put the peels in the pot, just estimate by eye, usually I use about 5 cups total liquid but it will depend on the dimension of your pot). Add the sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice. Bring this mixture to a boil, stirring so that the sugar dissolves, then add the peels. Simmer the orange peels in the syrup until tender and sweet and the syrup is thick enough to drop in a thick stream from a spoon. This could take up to half an hour. Let cool, then cut and remove the threads and pack the peels with into jars and pour syrup over to cover. Keep any leftover syrup seperately, it's great drizzled over yogurt. Store in the refrigerator.
Serve the peels with their syrup as part of breakfast or as an afternoon treat or dessert, with some Arabic coffee. Either serve with a knife and fork or place a tooth pick in the peel to facilitate eating. You can also slice the peels and serve them with yogurt, for breakfast, or with clotted cream, for dessert.