homemade mixed peel

4 lemons
4 oranges
1 grapefruit
1 lime
And enough sugar to float a boat. (1325 grams)  I use the nice organic fair-trade sugar they sell at Aldi.

Cut your fruit in half and juice it. Save the juice. I will tell you what to do with it later. Scoop out all of the middle and discard it. Then slice the peel into segments and carefully remove about half the pith with a sharp knife or a peeler. Save the pith. I am experimenting with that, too.
cut this into small strips or squares. You want them to be about 1/4 inch thick.

So now you are going to bring water to boil in a large saucepan. Dump the peel into the boiling water and let it blanch for about five minutes. Strain this and discard this liquid. It’s just an extra step to ensure purity and cut a little bit of the bitter.

Fill the saucepan 2/3 with cold water and add all the chopped peel. Bring this to a low simmer and let it go for an hour. Strain this liquid off but KEEP it. It should be a beautiful orange color  like the picture on the left.

Measure 1100 mL of the cooking liquid back into the sauce pan and add 900 grams of sugar.  Stir the sugar in and cook until it is dissolved. Dump the peel back in and let it set 24 hours. With the cooking liquid left you can use it in place of the simple syrup, to make yourself a homemade sour mix with this juice.

Remember, you don’t have to cook the syrup and the juice together to make a cordial and I think that when you can avoid cooking citrus juice, you should.  Think of it like you are preserving the juice with the simple syrup.   In this case, I usually add a little of the soaking syrup for flavor instead of zesting more fruit.     It stores in the fridge for well, honestly I have no idea how long it WOULD last.  We usually go through it pretty fast around here. The boys mix it with sparkling water to make fizzy orange soda.

homemade mixed peel, orange cordial

So know we are back to the peels.  They have sat for 24 hours and are probably pretty liquid.  Strain them again, reserving the liquid.  I measure about 1000 mL into the same sauce pan and add 425 grams more sugar.  If there’s any syrup leftover put it in a jar in the fridge.  I will tall you what to do with that. Once again cook on low heat stirring until the sugar dissolves and then dump the fruit back in.  Let it sit for another 24 hours.

At this point.  I put the peel on my dehydrator fruit leather trays,  so I can cover the peel while it dries.  I hate dust.  You could run it on low, but I rarely do unless I am truly in a hurry.  You lose some aromatics that way.   After a few days to a week the peels will be dry enough to scoop up and put in an airtight jar like the picture at the top of the page.

Oh and as for that syrup, I mentioned, you can save some to use as the base for cough syrups and use a little to make a homemade orange liqueur if you would like.

Grand Marnier is about 40 proof which is around 20% alcohol.  So if you want to make a similar orange flavored  liqueur, you can mix equal amounts of this syrup and  80 proof brandy.  If you want it to have a little kick, find a nice 100 proof apple brandy.  This works much better than the recipes I’ve seen for using juice.  They don’t have the bitter notes you expect from a good liqueur.