Too early for Christmas... part II - the candied citrus peel.

We normally do our Christmas Pudding on the last weekend of November. We normally manage to miss the real Stir up Sunday by a week. Don't ask how that works.
That means, we normally chop up our dry fruit (and make the mince meat) and make our candied peel on the day before. It's usually a rush. A panic, even.

This year Charlotte has been asking to start proceedings early. She's generally been pestering people about Christmas since 1 October. Yesterday I finally gave in, because she's right, she's annoying, and I saw a Pomelo at the supermarket.

A pomelo is a huge, slightly misshaped citrus fruit. 'Im indoors reckons it's a prehistoric Citrus fruit, before they started the kind of genetic manipulations that led to the tangerine and - I believe - most of the citrus fruit we actually eat. He's in fact been buying them for Christmas for two years running. The first year, it just rotted on the balcony. The second year, we got around to using some of the peel for the candied peel. Then we planned to use it for some mythical thai dish that 'Im indoors had seen on the internet, and it rotted in the fridge. This year, we've used the peel, and I'm planning on juicing it. We'll see what comes of that.

Anyhow, here it is (next to a lemon so you can see how big it is):

Yesterday I set my daughter to work. I juiced three oranges, two limes, one lemon, two grapefruits, and she took off the remaining flesh and the pith. 'Im indoors and I have a running dispute as to how much pith should remain. He thinks it tastes nicer with some. Quite how he knows that, seeing as I've always removed most of it, is a mystery. Anyhow, I say I'll leave some, I don't, and that's that.

Then I got her to slice it. Small. (Again, 'Im indoors reckons bigger is better. Same principle as above applies).

Next step is the syrup. For that you need equal quantities of water and sugar (how much depends on how much peel you have. Duh.) And some limoncello. Even Charlotte reckons it tastes better if you add alcohol. She'd like not to go on record as having said that.)

If you want to know how much we used here's our measurements.
First we decided to try measuring out 150 of something called Haferflocken. Then as it didn't seem to be enough, we added 125 of GrieB. (Yes, we have a German measuring jug.) For the limoncello, I put in a bit. Then, as the bottle was nearly finished, I decided I might as well put the rest in. Don't worry, we have another bottle in the freezer.

Bring the syrup to the boil, bang the peels in. Stir, and basically stick around until it looks right - or until you get bored, whichever comes first. Another possibility, one I'm currently exploiting, is to leave your daughter in charge - after all, she was the one who wanted it done today! That's not panning out quite as well as I hoped though, as she keeps calling out to ask if it's done yet.

Once the peel is in the pan, she complains a little less: it's sort of fun watching the colours become more vivid and the peel more transparent as it cooks.

When you feel that it's done (it looks and tastes right, you're bored, your kitchen elf is getting bored) you put the fruit out to dry on some grease proof paper. For an hour or two, maybe. Either until you remember to do it or need the space in the kitchen. The you put it into jar.
How long does it last? Well, I've just found some of last year's batch in the back of the fridge. It's fine. Want some?

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Irem said...

Sweet tradition! It's a pity I never got to taste this when we lived there.

My family has a way of making portakal receli I'd love to hear your thoughts on. The peels of the orange are rolled up and a thread is passed through them using a needle. Then several necklaces of this sort are cooked with much sugar and little water.

Leah said...

Oh I absolutely love pomelo!! It's amazing!! When I lived in Myanmar (South-East Asia) we used to eat it all the time. Wish I could find it here somewhere.

Jean said...

I love the attention you put into your baking...I'm afraid a jar of candies peel at Tesco's is the most I've ever managed. Your little elf seems to be really into it too.
I never heard of a pomelo in my life! It looks a bit scary XXX

JulieB said...

I'm normally a stickler for making things myself, but candied peel is one thing I can't quite bring myself to attempt. Maybe it's to do with the fact that I vehemently dislike the stuff - although having said this, maybe I should actually try home made!

Sandrine said...

@Irem: Next Christmas maybe? Can't wait till you guys get here.
@Leah: Ha. So what exactly did you do with your pomelos? Please tell me quickly: it's sitting in the fridge right now, partly peeled off, and I don't know how long it will last!
@Jean: we don't have Tesco's here! Or candied peel, mince meat, etc. But my husband really does like traditional Christmas pudding and we have such wonderful ingredients to play with here.
@Julie: I don't think I've ever had the shop made stuff. Not because Im such a domestic goddess (I'm not!) but because while I lived in the UK I managed to avoid all these traditions. Now we're in Turkey though my husband insists. So we have mince pies, pudding, and brussel sprouts every year for Christmas. (Then we also have ducks, or a goose, stuffed with smuggled pork rather than bread, and vegetables cooked in duck fat, so it's not too bad as far as I'm concerned).

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