Another thing I truly enjoy in our Southern Brazilian Winter is the taste of the oranges and tangerines.
They taste stronger and sharper then in the rest of the year, I don't know. I just know I keep waiting for them to show up in farmer's market!
Since I bought a lot of them this year, I wanted to live it up by preparing this incredibly simple and charming sweet: candied orange peels.
I took the peel of 6 navel oranges keeping the white pith. Since I already had the intention of candying them, I washed the oranges before peeling. In this case, I think it's important to choose organic, so that I won't eat pesticides along with my candy.
I cut the peels into approximately 4mm by 7cm strips. The length is not that important, but I try to keep the width the same to all strips.
I placed the peel strips in a medium pan and added cold filtered water just enough to cover them, then took to medium-high heat until it boiled. I discarded the water and repeated the process to more times.
This is done to remove part of the orange peel oil, which gives it it's flavor (don't worry, it won't taste bland).
After the last ebullition, before discarding the water, I measured it - so that I would know how much syrup I would need to boil the peel strips in. In my case, I had two cups straight (cup measure: 240ml).
In this moment, I removed the peels to a bowl. In the pan, I put 2 cups cold filtered water and 2 cups crystal sugar, and placed it over medium-high heat until the sugar was fully dissolved and the syrup stared to boil.
Then I put the peels back in the pan and lowered the heat to medium-low. I read in Testado, provado e aprovado that 50 minutes should be enough for them to cook, but mine actually took twice as long.
The secret to know the right point is to observe when the white pith starts to get translucent (the colored part will get translucent sooner).
I also noticed that the syrup started to turn into sugar again.
Point is: the peels will get a weird texture if they don't cook enough, kind of hard/ chewy.
Anyway, when the white piths turned translucent (see the above picture) I turned off the heat and started to separate the individual peel strips and place them on a rack to cool down. Be careful not to burn your hands, hot sugar is terrible!
I used a fork to help, but I suppose a small kitchen tweezer would be good too.
If the peels start to harden all together in the pan before you can separate them, put them again over low heat to mildly melt the sugar.
After about two hours they should be completely cool and are good to eat.
They make a simple and delicious dessert on their own. There's people who will dip them in bitter chocolate, which is also awesome.
I like to serve them with coffee, put them in sweet bread dough, gee... possibilities are endless.
I stored what was left of the syrup (my turned completely into sugar after cooling down) and I've been using it to sweeten black tea in the mornings. It's a very comforting combination.
My 6 oranges' peels yielded about 2 cups candied peel.
I feel like trying this with other citrus, I'm sure it will turn out good!
Make sure to store them in an airtight container and they will probably be conserved for forever (though they probably won't last long).