This is one of my all-time favorite “candies” to make. When I was growing up, we always got an orange in our stocking. Therefore I equate oranges with Christmas.
Here is a tidbit of actual history on that tradition.
Please don’t equate these treats with the gummy orange slices that are sold in the bagged candy area. Totally different thing.
I have orange trees. I am on the border of being too far north to raise citrus, so I baby these trees.
It’s best to use fresh oranges with thick peels. When you boil them, the moisture is replaced with syrup and spice.
I start by cutting off both ends, then cutting into segments. It makes them easier to cut into strips.
Then you eat all the yummy insides. Or save it for a salad or something. We just eat them all at my house.
For this recipe, I’m using 3 large oranges. You could probably use 4- 5 and get the same results.
Now you need to remove the pith. That’s the thick white part. It’s bitter. All of the Orange flavor is in the skin – or the zest.
Once you have all of your orange peel strips, you’ve completed the most difficult part. Now for the easy stuff!
Toss them into a pot and boil lightly for 15 minutes- with spices of your choice.
You do not need other spices, but I find it cuts the sweetness and give an extra layer of flavor. I like to use this tea bag. It’s simple and inexpensive.
I boil for 15 minutes with the tea bag.
The amount of water isn’t crucial, because it’s just a “sterilization” boil. You simply need to cover the peels with water.
Now rinse and drain several times. I use hot water, but it probably doesn’t make that big of a difference.
Now set your peels aside. The will be wet and have a hint of translucency to them.
Now add 2 cups of sugar to your saucepan. Mix with 2 cups of hot water. Bring to a boil to dissolve all of the sugar. Add back your orange peels and another fresh tea bag.
Bring the entire mixture to a slow boil and keep it between a simmer and a slow boil for 45 minutes. This is the “candy” process.
When the 45 minutes is up (don’t rush it – longer is better), then drain. Do not throw away the syrup. It’s delicious for drinks and other things that call for a simple syrup. You can even use it on sweet rolls or such.
Get a sheet pan with some sides, so you don’t have sugar everywhere. Put down a layer of sugar, then your orange slices, then sugar on top.
After mixing, you need to move to a clean pan and allow to dry for 24-48 hours.
You can simply eat them all before they have a chance to dry.
They make lovely gifts when packaged in a small mason jar. You can eat them, add them to hot black tea, or garnish any orange dessert.