This short how-to comes from the candied lemon peel garnish on Tish's Glazed Lemon-Poppy Seed Hearts. This winter, I've been savoring lemons and grapefruits, and it makes me sad to throw away their jewel-colored outer layers. I resolved to make edible gifts from what otherwise would have gone to waste. I've candied lemon and grapefruit peels, but I would highly recommend that you experiment with whatever you have. It only takes a few minutes, so you really have little to lose.
Candied Citrus Peels
Adapted from Tish Boyle's The Good Cookie
1 lemon, lime, grapefruit, or other citrus fruit
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/3 cup water
Peel the outer layer of fruit from top to bottom using a vegetable peeler. Slice the resulting strips into shorter or thinner strips, depending on your preference, then set aside.
Place 1/3 cup of the sugar in a small bowl.
Combine the water and the remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the peel and boil for 3 minutes.*
Remove the peel with a slotted spoon and toss with the reserved sugar until coated. Transfer the peel to a plate to dry (this usually takes about 30 minutes).
Use your candied peel as a garnish to cookies, or chop it up and add it to quick breads, oatmeal, or porridge. Or you could be like me and package it as a small thank-you gift for your culinarily inclined friends.
*I found that the grapefruit peels were still slightly bitter for my taste. To remedy this, strain out your boiled peels and repeat the boiling process one or two more times with fresh water and sugar. This will create a much less bitter finished product.