I used about five lemons each day during The Master Cleanser detox and given that I was on the program for 10 days, you can figure out how many of these little citrus fruits I went through! After several days of squeezing lemons, I began to realize how wasteful I was being for throwing away all the precious lemon peels. Citrus peels have so much potential – they can turn into delicious homemade marmalade, a lovely potpourri or even herbal tea. I didn’t really know exactly what I wanted to do with them at the time, but I froze some in the freezer anyway in hopes of reincarnating them into something marvelous in the future.
While I was browsing through one of my favorite knitting blogs, Fig and Plum, I stumbled upon the recipe for Martha Stewart’s Candied Citrus Peels and instantly knew this was the answer for my leftover lemon peels.
I couldn’t remember exactly how much lemons I used here but I think it was about 10 medium-sized ones. I sliced them into a small, bite size strips that is easy to eat. The original recipe calls for 6 cups of sugar and 6 cups of water to make the simple syrup to cook the peels in, but I used 3 cups instead for both sugar and water. I don’t know why 6 cups are required since mine came out fine (still sweet and syrupy). I can’t imagine using 6 cups of sugar in anything – that just seems way too much!
First, you would need to boil the peels twice to get rid of the bitter taste. Put the peels in a pot full of cold water and bring it up to a simmer. Turn off the heat right when it starts to boil and drain. Repeat. By this time, your kitchen should be smelling lemony fresh!
Next, make the syrup by combining the sugar and water and bring to a boil until sugar dissolves completely. Add the strips to the boiling syrup and cook until each strip becomes translucent, about one hour. The syrup you see on the picture looks dark and that’s because I used the evaporated sugar cane sugar I purchased from Whole Foods which came with a tint of brown. If you use the regular, granulated sugar, the liquid should be translucent.
You can use the leftover syrup to sweeten up an ice (or hot) tea, or pour it on yogurt to add a lovely combination of sweet and slightly tangy. I let the liquid cool and poured it in a jar. It should keep, in the refrigerator, for about 2 weeks.
After letting them cool for a bit in the syrup, transfer the strips to a wire rack (I put newspaper and paper towel under to avoid a “sticky” situation) and let them cool. Once cooled, roll each strip in sugar (this is a fun part). Let each strip dry on the wire rack, about 30 minutes.
I was really happy with how these candied lemon peels turned out. I’m actually not really a candy person and those little mysterious fruit jelly things I used to get at Christmas used to scare me a bit. Even though this homemade version truly reminds you of that confection, these taste 100 times better because you know exactly how they were made and where the lemons came from. The candied peels are sweet but they still have the slight bitterness of the lemons which I love. There is definitely something to be said about being able to make your own food or snacks and regaining the power to determine what goes into your body. Don’t be fooled, however, that these are still candies and there are loads of sugar in them … but as in everything, they are heavenly in moderation.
I packaged mine in cellophane bags (I was able to make four bags) but Jessica from Fig and Plum packaged hers in a little clear jar which was totally adorable and very festive (she made them as holiday gifts!). I’m going to give the candies to my friends Noelle and Gabriel, who are also the graduates of the lemonade cleanse, my dear friend in Nashville who’ll be celebrating her birthday in February, and my parents I hope they enjoy them!