Orangett – a Piece of Sunshine in a Candy Shape

When I first tasted orangett – after making a batch out of curiosity and sort of expecting to hate it – my tongue perked up in recognition. It looked like a gourmet version of those sugared gummy orange “slices” except the way is better. Oranguette, or candied orange peel, is now my favorite holiday candy.

Oranguetta is unusual, but not finicky. You will spend several hours on this, but you will never be a slave to a thermometer or a clock. It also contains only two ingredients: navel oranges and granulated sugar. (You will also need wire cooling stands.)

To get started, buy as many navel oranges as you can imagine, peeling them without hating your life. Over the years I’ve developed a tolerance – and I know how good the orange flavor is and how special it looks in gift boxes – so I buy ten pounds of oranges. Feel free to make do with less.

This video shows my peeling and slicing technique, but fair warning: it was filmed by a kid holding a camera in one hand and eating Christmas cookies with the other. I cut the top and bottom of the orange, run the tip of my knife over the top of the core, and then cut the orange into quarters. Then I use my thumb to separate the rind from the juicy part. Feel free to eat or juice the orange pulp; it is not included in this recipe at all. I cut the peel into strips about the width of McDonald’s fries.

Right now, those of you who are familiar with citrus zest are probably thinking, “But you have to remove the white core, right? The cork is bitter! “This is true, but beside the point. Do not scrape off the core . It provides the pectin for that chewy texture, and we have a plan to deal with the bitterness:

  1. Boil the orange peel wedges and then drain.
  2. Boil the orange peel wedges and then drain.
  3. Last time! Boil the orange peel wedges and then drain.

The bitterness has almost disappeared and what is left will be hidden behind the huge mountains of sugar you are about to add. Go over the mountains of sugar now. I’ve seen recipes that require two cups of sugar for four oranges and four cups of sugar for two oranges . I don’t believe it matters if it makes you think, “Wow, that’s a lot.” For my ten pounds of oranges, I use about two pounds of sugar. Pour it into a saucepan with the peel and add enough fresh water to cover and stir to dissolve while you bring the mixture to a boil.

Simmer for about an hour, until the rind is soft and the liquid is sticky. It doesn’t matter what temperature this slime boils at or what it does when you throw it in cold water. Your oranges have been sugar-boiled for an hour, so you couldn’t ruin everything.

Now is a time consuming time: you will take out some wire cooling racks and place each piece of orange peel to dry. It will take a while – about half an hour for my ten pounds of oranges. Put on holiday music and sing along to pass the time. If the mucus is hot enough to burn your fingers, use chopsticks.

(If you don’t have and can’t get a wire cooler, you can spread the peels out on the parchment and then when the tops are dry, flip them over so the underside can dry. I don’t recommend this technique, but I’ve done it for years before I finally caved in and bought three large shelving units. Since then my life has improved.)

When you lay out the orange peels, they will be damp with mucus, but the next day they will feel dry and sticky to the touch. Do not continue if they are still wet . You will be sorry. This is not a recipe for haste.

The last step is a good way to get the kids involved if they whine about how they want to “help.” Fill a bowl (any bowl) with sugar, let them toss the sticky orange peels into the sugar and roll them out until they are covered. You have now completed the orangett! You can keep the chunks on end in a cute little masonry jar (or, you know, toss them in a giant bowl) with a little sugar added for good measure.

If you want to get a little more creative, you can skip the sugar and dip it in tempered dark chocolate. Or chop them up and add them to recipes. (I roll them in sugar even if I’m going to chop them so they don’t stick together.) Milk or dark chocolate bark with almonds, oranget and candied ginger is amazing.


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