A few weeks ago, I happened to stumble upon a bag of Meyer lemons while poking around in one of my favourite fancypants gourmet stores in search of new and interesting ingredients. For a mere $5, a half-dozen of these fragrant little beauties were mine to take home.
Meyer lemons, if you’re not familiar with them, are believed to be a cross-breed between mandarins and lemons. While they may look a lot like a regular lemon, they have the thinner, less bitter peels of a mandarin, and a light floral aroma that’s equal parts lemon and mandarin.
These traits make them perfect candidates for marmalades, as well as for candied lemon peel… so that’s precisely what I did with my little bag of Meyers. If you aren’t lucky enough to find Meyers where you are, you can also adapt this recipe to use any kind of citrus fruit, but do take the time to scrape away as much of the bitter white pith as you can if you’re using regular lemons, oranges or grapefuits.
Candied lemon peels are a very versatile ingredient. Chopped up, they can be stirred into baked goods or ice creams for a lemony flavour boost. For a pretty garnish, you can wrap whole strips around the handle of a wooden spoon to make lemon curls. Whole strips can also be dunked in chocolate for a delicious edible gift.
Candied Meyer Lemon Peels
6 Meyer lemons
11 cups cold water, divided
2 1/4 cups sugar, divided
Cut lemons into thin slices. Discard the ends, then remove the pulp from remaining slices. (Pulp can be reserved to make a very tasty Meyer lemonade by extracting the juice and mixing with water and sugar to taste)
Place peel strips in a small saucepan and pour in 3 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then drain off the water. Repeat this step twice more, using fresh cold water each time.
After the strips have been boiled three times, remove from the saucepan and set aside. Combine remaining 2 cups water and 2 cups of sugar in saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add peel strips and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and transparent, about 15-20 minutes. Drain, reserving liquid if desired – it makes a lovely lemon-flavoured simple syrup which can be stirred into lemon cocktails or drizzled onto pound cake.
In a bowl, toss together peel strips with remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Arrange on a wire rack and leave to cure overnight before packing up in an airtight container.