Reading the recipe I previously posted, June Taylor–the expert marmalade-maker— sent me this invaluable advice: “When you talk about boiling the citrus peel in the sugar solution I would suggest that you barely simmer it. The process of osmosis – the water coming out of the peel and the sugar solution going in needs to happen at an even pace and gently. Boiling can lead to a toughening up of the peel. Also, we air dry our peel, sometimes for a day or two or several days (depending on the weather and humidity level) before rolling them in sugar.”
The following recipe is adjusted accordingly.
Dip half of each peel into melted bitter-sweet chocolate and serve as treats. Slice thinly to add to creams, cakes and ice cream.
4 thick-skinned organic lemons or 2 lemons and 2 Seville oranges
2 cups sugar, plus more for dredging the peels
Juice of 2 lemons
Zest half of each fruit –you can use the zest to make lemon curd– then score and remove the peel in segments and cut it into triangles. I’m afraid I didn’t have the patience to cut them all the same size.
Place the peels in a saucepan and add enough water to barely cover. Bring slowly to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes or more, until they start to soften and are easily pierced with the tip of a knife. Add the sugar, stir and cook another 5 minutes, then add the lemon juice, bring to a boil then simmer the peels for 15 minutes or until tender, then transfer the peels with a slotted spoon to a sieve and drain over a bowl, collecting the syrup, which you will add to the pan.
Continue to boil the syrup until it thickens. To test pour half a teaspoon on a cold plate, and let cool. If it wrinkles when you push it with your finger, it is set, otherwise cook a bit longer and test again.
Drop the peels back into the thickened syrup, remove from the heat, cover, and let cool overnight.
Remove the peels with a slotted spoon and arrange on a grid or a rack placed over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Either let them air-dry at room temperature, or turn the oven to about 180ºF (80ºC) place the peels in the middle of the oven and let them dry for about 2 hours. They darken somewhat if dried in the oven. They are ready when they feel just a bit sticky when touched.
Sprinkle sugar on a plate, and dredge each peel on the sugar so that some grains stick on both sides. Place again the peels on the rack and dry in the oven for another hour, or until no longer sticky. Crack the oven door half open and let the peels cool completely. Transfer to airtight boxes lined with parchment paper.
If properly dried, they keep for a year or more.