By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
Although many people think of Citrus as a summer staple, it really is the perfect winter fruit. It reminds me of brighter, sunnier days. Citrus fruit lasts for weeks with proper refrigeration and is so versatile. Lemons bring a brightness and lightness to pastries, limes add the perfect acidic zing to cocktails, and oranges are an oft-forgotten holiday icon. I always think of the start of the holidays as coinciding with mandarin orange boxes showing up in grocery stores.
Unlike other citrus-based recipes which require only partial use of the fruit, this recipe utilizes everything. I love using candied citrus in decorating pastries and cakes. It adds such a unique and rustic element of symmetry and is a great way to elevate a dessert. You can use candied citrus to top sugar cookies or squares, and I love the way it looks on cakes. An added bonus is that the preparation process will have your house smelling like a lemonade stand. This recipe is good for about four medium sized lemons, you can adjust accordingly depending on the size and quantity of citrus fruit being prepared. I recommend doubling the recipe, and working in batches for larger yields. The recipe stays the same regardless of the type of citrus you are using, but I prefer to work in batches so each slice of fruit has full coverage in your pot or pan as it simmers.
As with any kind of produce, wash your fruit, to get the thin layer of wax off of the peel. In a large wide pot, or high-edged pan, combine 350ml of water and 200g of sugar and heat on medium-high heat to dissolve the sugar and bring to a gentle boil, careful to not swirl or stir the pot, which leads to crystallization.
Slice citrus into thin slices, approximately ½ cm each and add to the simple syrup mixture, cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes, before lowering the temperature to medium-low. Using tongs, flip the citrus slices and cook for an additional 20 minutes, and try to keep slices from crowding in the pot by ensuring they remain in a single layer.
Once the peel begins to change opacity and becomes more translucent, you can remove the slices from the pot and cool on a parchment-lined sheet pan. To expedite this, you can pop the baking pan into the fridge. Store the slices in a parchment lined container, and ensure you place parchment paper between slices to keep the slices from sticking together. I recommend storing in the refrigerator if not using right away for up to two weeks.
The simple syrup is now infused with citrus. You can brush this on top of fruit desserts to keep the fruit looking shiny and fresh, or brush in between your cake layers as a cake soak to increase moisture. Or keep in a mason jar and use in your holiday cocktails!