You can take the girl out of Berkeley, but you can’t take Berkeley out of the girl. Or rather, you can’t take Berkeley’s Meyer lemons away from the girl, when she was clever enough to make some candied Meyer lemon peel while at home, in the land of Meyer abundance. What is a Meyer lemon? Read my post from last week for a fuller description, and some other recipes. In short: it is a highly perfumed, sweeter, thinner-skinned version of a lemon.
The peel may, in fact, be the most prized part of the Meyer, because it is so unlike regular lemon peel, in terms of both its incredible thin skin and also its general sweetness. I wanted to take a taste of Meyer back with me to New York while I was at home, and unfortunately didn’t have time to make Meyer lemon marmalade, which I have heard so much about. So I made these candied lemon peels instead, and they came out beautifully. It’s pretty tedious to blanch them so many times, but you need to do it to get rid of any bitterness from the skin (even Meyers have a little). I suggest you have a non-taxing magazine nearby to keep you company during the five-minute intervals.
You could do a lot with them, and suggestions follow the two different types (I made all sugared, so they could travel with me, but you can also leave them soft in their syrup). I, however, prefer to eat mine a piece at a time, when I need a little pick me up, or — most often — with a cup of tea before going to bed. Divine! And will work with any kind of citrus peel (though you may have to adjust the sugar, depending on your taste), and could even be dipped in chocolate for extra divinity.
Candied Meyer Lemon Peel
Makes 40-60 pieces candied peel
2 ¼ c. granulated sugar, plus 1 c. for coating
1 ½ c. water
additional water for blanching
1. Peel strips of lemon peel with vegetable peeler (about ¼ inch to 1/3 inch thick)
2. Bring a couple cups of water to a boil
3. Add slices of peel, simmer for about 5 minutes. Drain. Repeat two more times.
4. After peel has been blanched three times, heat 1 ½ c. water and 2 ¼ c. sugar until sugar is dissolved. Add peel and bring to a gentle boil, reduce to a simmer. Simmer 1 to 1 ½ hours (I think 1 is fine) until peel is very soft, tender, and sweet. (If syrup is climbing the sides, you can wash down the sides with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. This didn’t happen to me, though.) The peels will be extremely hot – be careful.
5. a. You can leave the peels in the syrup, in which case they will stay soft and flexible, and you can chop them up and use them in other baked goods. Cool peels and syrup until lukewarm, transfer to a clean, air-tight container, and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.
b. You can roll them in granulated sugar to make munchy peels. The cookbook said to: Spread 1 cup sugar on wax paper on a baking sheet or table and roll each piece individually in the sugar, then place it on a cooling tray over more wax paper. That’s what I did, but it was a little tedious, and I theorize that you could actually just put a cup of sugar in a large Tupperware, throw a couple peels in at a time, cover the Tupperware, and shake. Then put them either on a wire rack, or – I suspect – just laid out on wax paper would be fine. They keep in an airtight container for 2 weeks at room temperature (if you are particularly meticulous, you would store them in layers, separated by wax paper, but I am not).
Note: Don’t toss the leftover syrup! You can use it for all sorts of things – spooned over ice cream or fruit, over pancakes or waffles, over shortcake, or to whipped cream. Use your imagination. The sky is the limit when you’re talking about citrus-infused sugar syrup!