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peel, candied

My e-friend Elisabeth, who generally knows what's what, wrote a while back describing the candied peel her husband wanted in his fruit-cake as "dyed a brilliant, sickly red and green and yellow". I had to demur.

Someone, somewhere, must have decided that all people wanted from candied peel was colour. This misguided cheapskate then experimented and found that melon-peel, rather than being thrown away as fit for nothing like Dr Johnson's prepared cucumbers, could be dyed, sweetened and sold on to ill-informed consumers. He or she probably felt it would please the sort of cook who used packet mixes to prepare fairy-cakes with nubs of hard jelly in.

With globalisation in full swing, this sickly substitute appears to have driven out the real thing both in Europe (France and Belgium, for sure) and in the US. Hence Elisabeth's distaste and distress when her husband actually asked to have candied peel in his cake. I sent her a tub of the real thing as soon as I could, and she was happy to revise her opinion.

Here's a recipe she - and you - may find useful, from the 113th edition of Enquire within upon everything.

Candied lemon and orange peel

Wash skins, put in basin with cold water and salt, soak for two days. Put skins in preserving-pan with enough water to cover, bring to boil and cook until tender — about an hour. Drain. Make a syrup with two pounds of sugar and two pints of water, put in the peel, and boil briskly until skins look clear. Life peel from syrups on to plates, reduce syrup, and pour a little into each round of peel. When cold and firm, store in dry jars or boxes.

Note: these are of course full-size Imperial pints, containing 20 fluid ounces

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