For me, it’s always the parties. You’ve got this idea for great cocktails you can serve, so you grab lemons for garnish. But then you get distracted trying to stash the cat in someone’s bedroom before your guest goes into full-blown allergy mode, or you have to pull out the scrub brush to try to get the wine out of your carpet. Your partner (or worse, a guest!!) ends up making the cocktails and doesn’t give a hoot about presentation. At the end of your night, 5 out of the 6 lemons are just hanging out on your counter, fully intact, and you know (from your slightly-hazy memory of someone doing very embarrassing karaoke) that way more than 6 cocktails were served!
Now what? Well, the lemons can definitely sit in the fridge and go bad, but isn’t it better to make lemonade? And when you’re done with that, give this recipe a try to use up those peels!
Candied Lemon Peel
Makes about 1 cup peel
3 lemons (or you can use lime, orange, grapefruit…)
3½ cups boiling water
1½-2 cups sugar (I used turbinado)
Score the lemons into quarters and carefully remove the peel, keeping it as intact as possible and keeping as much of the white pith as you can. Set a medium saucepan over medium-high heat with 2 cups boiling water. Dice the lemon peels and add to boiling water. Boil 3 minutes and strain water from peel (keep this for a tea, if you like). This will take some of the bitterness out of the peel. Put 1½ cups of fresh boiling water into the pot and stir in sugar. Bring to a boil, then add lemon peel once again, boiling for about 10 minutes, or until the peel is beginning to turn translucent. Strain peel, reserving syrup, and spoon into a clean sealing jar, filling the jar to within ½” with syrup. Seal and let the flavours blend for at least a couple of days before using. Strain syrup from peel for use in recipes, and keep the syrup for use as a sweetener or flavouring in your favourite recipes. (It’s really yummy on pancakes or toast.)
I use candied peel every year in my fruitcake and Stollen around the holidays! What other uses have you found for this yummy treat?