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Oct 2, 2007 10:53 AM

Candying Fruit for Fruitcake

Look Mom, I'm thinking ahead! So, it's fruitcake time for real this time. Here's my sad post from last year: I want to make some this year and do it right. And I would like to candy my own fruit. Does anyone have a fruitcake recipe with directions for candying fruit? I really need specifics, because a.) I've never been successful with candying anything and b.) I've never made fruitcake! Any help is much appreciated!

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  1. Would you be interested in a candied citrus peel?

    11 Replies
    1. re: katecm

      Definitely! I've tried both orange peel and ginger, and neither were what I would consider a success.

      1. re: Katie Nell

        This is from the Gourmet cookbook. I've done it with lemon, grapefruit and orange. The peels really come out transparent.

        Candied Grapefruit Peel

        2 small grapefruits

        1 cup granulated sugar

        1/2 cup water

        1 cup super-fine granulated sugar

        Step 1: With peel still on fruit, quarter peel lengthwise then remove, keeping pieces of peel intact. Reserve fruit for another use. Diagonally cut pieces of peel into 1/3-inch-wide strips. (Or use peel from juiced fruit.)

        Step 2: Put peel in a 3-quart saucepan filled with cold water, and bring slowly to a boil over moderate heat. Boil 1 minute and drain. Repeat procedure four times to remove bitterness. Blanching for a total of five times may seem excessive, but each round removes bitterness and softens the peel. (You do not want to hasten this process by using high heat, as if the water boils too hard, the peel will disintegrate.)

        Step 3: Lightly oil a large rack, and set it in a shallow baking pan.

        Step 4: Bring regular granulated sugar and water to a boil in a large heavy skillet, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add peel and boil, stirring, until most of syrup is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Take it of the heat when a small amount of syrup remains in the pan. If it is all absorbed, the pan will immediately get too hot and the syrup will crystallize.

        Step 5: Turn out peel onto rack, separating pieces. Dry candied peel, uncovered, at room temperature until only slightly sticky, 4 to 8 hours. Toss, a few pieces at a time, in superfine sugar, shaking off excess.


        - If sugar syrup begins to crystallize on peel, turn out of skillet immediately. Peel will still be good but will have a different appearance, and it won't need a sugar coating.

        - Candied peel keeps in an airtight container at room temperature one week or chilled one month. If chilled peel becomes too moist, pat dry and re-roll in sugar.

        1. re: katecm

          Thanks for the exact directions- hopefully I will be more successful this time!

        2. re: Katie Nell

          There's an excellent, and lengthy, recipe for crystallized ginger in Helen Witty's Fancy Pantry. Although it can be made with mature ginger, which is what is most commonly available, a far superior product requires stem ginger. Stem ginger is very young, somewhat pink-tinged ginger that I've only been able to find in Chinatown--and not with any regularity. It's season is supposedly late summer/early fall, but I was just looking for some a few weeks ago and couldn't find it. If you can find it, great; it not, I wouldn't bother. Although it is expensive, the crystallized ginger you can buy is going to be better than the one you can make with regular, store-bought ginger.

          1. re: JoanN

            I have that book! I hadn't thought to look there yet!

            1. re: Katie Nell

              Katie, If you're interested in candying young ginger, I've seen it at Whole Foods a couple times. It was just selling as ginger root in the produce department, no mention of it being stem ginger or even young. It was a lovely pink shade and very thin skinned. I think their source is an organic grower in Hawaii, so it might help to find out the season for it being young in Hawaii, to sort out what time of year it comes in that way at WFM.

            2. re: JoanN

              I have no idea where he manages to get it so much of the year, but the greengrocer on the south side of Bayard St between Mott & Elizabeth often, though not quite always, has young ginger.

              1. re: MikeG

                Thank you so much for that! It's been a couple of years now since I've found any. I'll definitely check them out.

                1. re: JoanN

                  Coming back to thank you, MikeG. Not only I, but all those who are about to receive jars of ginger jelly and ginger marmalade. Went to this place a week ago and he didn't have any. I was rather disheartened. But went again yesterday and he had huge amounts of the most beautiful young ginger I've seen outside of southeast Asia. Great, great source.

                  1. re: JoanN

                    Glad you found it. I haven't been down there in a while, the candied ginger this thread has me contemplating might do it...

        3. I've had luck candying grapefruit and orange peels using a method in the Savory Way cookbook, from one of the chefs following Deborah Madison at Greens restaurant in SF. I'm sorry I don't recall the name, maybe Annie Sommerville? Anyway, she recommends simmering the peel removed in quarters from the fruit, pith and all, to soften it. Then I scrape the pith out of the peel with a spoon and simmer them in sugar syrup. The peels comes out thicker and softer than if you made them with just the zest.

          I think this method would work for lemons as well, and would be well suited to fruitcake. You'd probably want to dry them overnight on a rack to let any extra syrup drip off, then refrigerate.

          1. Good fruits for candying include pineapple, cherries, chopped apricots, watermelon rind, and lemon, orange or grapefruit peel. Use your candied fruit during the holidays in cookies and fruitcake, or dip in chocolate for your own homemade candies.
            Difficulty: Easy
            Things You'll Need
            heavy saucepans
            candy thermometer
            fresh fruit
            1Step OnePrepare fruit. Cut pineapple, apricots and watermelon rind into small pieces; chop cherries in half; remove white pith from lemon, orange or grapefruit peel and cut into strips or small pieces.
            2Step TwoCombine 1 cup sugar, 1 cup honey and 1-1/2 cups water in heavy saucepan.
            3Step ThreeBoil over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches 235 degrees F on candy thermometer.
            4Step FourDrop small amount of fruit into liquid.
            5Step FiveCook on low heat 20-30 minutes until the fruit or rind is transparent.
            6Step SixDrain and repeat with rest of fruit.
            7Step SevenCool fruit and store in airtight container.
            Tips & Warnings
            You can blanch citrus peels (dip them in boiling water for a few minutes) to make them less bitter.
            If desired, you can dehydrate candied fruit by spreading thin layers on trays and drying for 12-18 hours at 120 degrees F until fruit is no longer sticky and the center has no moisture.
            To sun dry, put trays in full sun for 1-2 days, stirring occasionally, until fruit is no longer sticky. Take trays in at night.
            To oven dry, spread on trays and dry at 120 degrees F for 18-24 hours.
            Store dried candied fruit in an airtight container.