When you give these beautiful Candied Orange Peels as gifts to family and friends, you are giving them a healthy, tasty, beautiful treat that will last throughout the holiday season (if they aren’t eaten before the season is over).
Candied orange peels have reminded me of Christmas for as long as I can remember. The mere aroma of orange peels simmering on the stove creates warm happy emotions that I cannot describe.
It takes me back to my childhood. At the same time, it gives me pleasure to know I am leaving the same traditions that I grew up with to my own children.
I include my candied orange peels recipe below — but first, I want to share some tips for many other uses of the humble, much-overlooked orange peel.
Save the Peels! Tips for Sustainable Living
One of the greatest treasures that I want my children to teach their children is to make the most of everything and waste nothing that God gives us in nature. I believe that one major example of sustainability is to use parts of vegetables, fruits, or harvested game that are not ordinarily used.
Most people utilize the flesh, or the inside juicy sections of the orange, but the orange rind and the peel have just as many uses. Orange peels can be used as:
Orange Oil Mosquito and Ant Repellant
Actually, the orange oil in the peel is great for repelling bugs in general.
Here is an easy recipe for natural, non-toxic insect repellant:
Cut the peel into small pieces, cover with water in a saucepan, and simmer the mixture for about 5 minutes.
Then put a lid on the saucepan and let the peels steep in the water for 24 hours.
Strain the steeped mixture through a sieve, and then pour the liquid into a spray bottle.
Voila! Natural insect repellant. Be sure to shake the bottle to evenly distribute the oils in the water before each use.
Orange Vinegar Cleaner/Degreaser
You probably know that vinegar in itself is a great household cleaner. You can also boost its cleaning and degreasing properties with orange peels.
Simply steep orange peels in white vinegar in sealed jars for a couple of weeks for extra citrusy cleaning power.
Natural Citrus Air Freshener / Room Deodorizer
Simmering orange peels make a great natural air freshener and room deodorizer.
Just simmer the peels on the stove with your favorite spices (like cinnamon and clove) to fill your home with a delicious scent.
More Uses — the Possibilities Are Almost Endless!
Believe it or not, you can even use dried orange peels for kindling. The oil in the peels is a natural fire starter, and it fills the room with the aroma of toasted orange. Just dry the peels out on a cookie sheet on your kitchen counter.
The Main Feature: Candied Orange Peels
But without a doubt, the most delicious use of the peel is the candied orange peel recipe below.
As you use oranges to make your favorite salads, southern ambrosia, or orange pound cake, keep those peels to prepare these wonderful candied orange peels!
You can find this and more recipes like it in my handbook Preserving 101: Canning, Drying, and Freezing.
During the Christmas season, I like to find a more elegant and utilitarian use for my orange peels. Candied Orange Peels are beautiful, festive, and are full of nutrients.
The orange peel has more vitamin C than the actual fruit of the orange. Likewise, the fruit peel also has about three times as much the amount of Vitamin A, B-Complex, and minerals such as manganese, calcium, and zinc.
Candied Orange Peel
- 6 large oranges
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups sugar plus more for coating (about 1/2 cup)
- Using a sharp knife, cut the peel off the oranges, taking as much as possible to get ride of most of the pith. The pitch can be very bitter. Cut the peel into 1/4-inch strips.
- In a large saucepan, combine the peels with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to simmer. Continue to simmer peels, uncovered, for about 1 hour. There should only be about 1 inch of water remaining, and the peels should be soft and somewhat transparent. Drain the peels.
- In another saucepan, bring 4 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar. This should take about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the drained peels. Let stand at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours.
- Return the pan to low heat and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes or until the peels have absorbed most of the syrup. Watch carefully to prevent burning.
- Remove the peels from the saucepan and lay them out individually on wax paper. Allow them to dry for about 12 hours. They will still be a little wet, but not soggy.
- Place about 1/2 cup of sugar in a bowl and roll the orange peels in the sugar until they are fully coated. Arrange peels in a single layer on a piece of wax paper and let them dry. To hasten drying, arrange peels on a sheet pan and place in the oven on the lowest setting. Keep the door cracked and leave them to dry for a couple of hours.
- Store in layers separated by waxed paper in an airtight container. Try candied orange peel dipped in chocolate for an extra tasty treat. Enjoy! Happy cooking!