A friend of many years sent us a surprise box of citrus fruits from Florida over the holidays, and we packaged up the rinds and sent them back!

Of course, there is more to this story, but I like to start with that. This is really a recycling story. When we were finished, there was nothing left of the original gift at all.

The sturdy box went off to Turkey, with books for one of my middle school students 35 years ago when I was in the Peace Corps- she is now head of the English language department in a girls' school. The tissue paper we used for kindling for kitchen morning wood fires. The fruit we ate and we re-made the rinds into elegant sugared candied peel, a project I hadn't done in years.

Lemon, orange and grapefruit or a combination all work very well for candied peel; the thicker skins do best. Rinse left-over rinds, save in refrigerator, wrapped, for a few days until you accumulate enough. Pull the leftover pulp away from the skin- it separates easily -and eat what you can of it - lots of anti-oxidants and flavonoids - and give the rest to the wild birds. 

Cut the remaining rinds into more or less isosceles triangles, and boil them gently for 2 hours in a half-and-half mixture of light corn syrup and granulated sugar, with water enough to just cover. You need a heavy pot, not aluminum; you need to keep the pot covered, and the syrup at a low boil or simmer, and you need to check fairly often, gently stirring bottom rind toward the top. Only add more water if syrup is about to boil dry. Let it concentrate and thicken.

After 2 hours, remove pot from heat, roll each piece of peel in granulated sugar, place each individually on waxed paper. (Keep each piece separate.) Leave to cool and dry for several hours or overnight. Pack into canisters, adding a dusting of granulated sugar to each layer. Keep in a cool place.

This makes a very elegant treat on a tray, in winter with chocolate fudge, in summer with fresh strawberries. In winter the project keeps the kitchen warm, and the drying fruit peels are easy to snitch, out on the counter all evening.

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© 2003 by Pamela Thompson, Giving Ground - all rights reserved

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