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A homemade candied citrus recipe and guide. Three ingredients to scale up or down to your heart's (and candied orange appetite's) content. These candied orange slices make for the perfect tart treat on their own or a beautiful decorative accent to your desserts.
3 Ingredients for Candied Slices
So, for this recipe, you really just need three ingredients:
- Oranges - you can use any orange variety for candied orange slices. I used blood oranges when they were in season, or other small to medium sized varieties.
- Sugar - granulated sugar or caster sugar will work in this recipe. You can also substitute with honey, but this will add a strong honey flavour to the finished product.
- Water - standard tap water, nothing special needed here!
How to Candy Oranges
I find the process for making a candied citrus slice is more of a 'how to' then it is a specific recipe. The measurements will depend quite a bit on the type of pan you use and the timings will vary based on the nature and ripeness of your pieces of fruit.
The key to candied citrus fruit is that you are boiling the slices in a simple syrup until they are soft and tender. Simple syrup is equal parts sugar and water.
Tips for Boiling Fruit Slices
Start by selecting a saucepan.
This needs to be large enough that your pieces will fit in without being packed too tightly. They do not need to be in a single layer over the surface - this would require an excessively large pan and waste a lot of water and sugar for unnecessary amounts of syrup. If they would fit in loosely overlaying each other around 3 deep, this is fine.
Next, add equal parts water and sugar to the saucepan. You want enough water that your orange slices will float and not be left sitting on the bottom.
Stir the sugar and water together so that you have a cloudy mixture and place over a medium heat. Carefully add the orange slices and bring the pan to a boil.
Reduce the heat to a medium low and continue simmering as the slices soften and become translucent. You can judge this by looking at the white just beneath the rind. This is called the albedo. You're looking for this to change from opaque white to an orange-infused off white showing the liquid has thoroughly absorbed.
So the main takeaways to focus on:
- Are the orange slices able to float?
- Can you manage turning these with tongs and moving them about in the pan so they all get roughly equal coverage?
Alternatives to Sugar
Personally I think classic granulated sugar is the best way to candy your orange slices. It offers sweetness without risk of overpowering the fruit with another flavour.
There are many reasons you may be looking for another option though! Be assured that you can make candied orange slices without sugar.
Some useful options are:
- Maple syrup
You would simply substitute the sugar with an equal amount of the alternative and cook in the same fashion.
Do just keep in mind that the flavours (particularly honey or maple syrup) will infuse with the oranges. This may offer a unique and exciting dimension to the treats. It may not, however, work with all recipes, if you are making these as a decoration to add to a dish.
Using Candied Orange Slices
The options for using candied orange pieces is limitless! In general this falls into two categories:
1. Candied orange as a treat on its own
The slices make for delicious tart sweets on their own. Once dried for several hours, or overnight, try one of these options:
- Dip in more granulated sugar for a coating that will give them a slight crunch and added sweetness.
- Make easy chocolate covered orange slices by dipping the pieces carefully in melted chocolate. You can use milk or dark chocolate dependent on preference.
2. Candied oranges as a Decoration
These slices are beautiful as a decorative accent to a dessert. They can be used whole or sliced, either in halves or wedges. Add them to tarts, eclairs or other plates.
When using as a decoration, do be sure that they compliment the flavours of the wider dish.
Ideas for Using Leftover Orange Sugar Syrup
The orange sugar syrup that you will have leftover from this recipe probably deserves a whole post to itself!
This orange infused syrup can be used for cocktails or mocktails as is. Wherever a recipe calls for a simple syrup, you can try replacing it with this orange variety for a zesty orange twist.
Alternatively, you could further reduce the syrup, by continuing to cook in on a medium heat. This process takes a bit more time, but once reduced by about half you should be left with a thicker syrup that can be used as a cordial or a sauce for other desserts, like panna cotta.
Much like candied peel, this process helps to preserve the fruit and will help it last. These slices can stay fresh for weeks if stored in an airtight container.
I would not recommend freezing these candied orange slices. This process will not extend the shelf life of the candied fruit and therefore does not offer any benefit.
You can candy any citrus using these same general guidelines. Try lemons, limes, tangerines. Most of my images are from candying Moro blood oranges.
If you like this recipe, try some other easy homemade snacks and decoration:
Candied Orange Slices
- Small saucepan if you are making more than one or two oranges worth of candied slices, you'll also need a larger pan, with greater surface area.
- 2 medium sized oranges cut into ¼" or .5cm slices
- 1 cup granulated sugar or caster sugar
- 1 cup water
- Add the water and sugar to a saucepan over a medium heat and stir to combine. The sugar won't immediately dissolve, so the water will be cloudy.
- Carefully add the orange slices into the water and continue cooking on a medium heat turning the slices occasionally with tongs. Bring the pan to a boil.
- Once boiling, turn the heat down slightly to a medium low and continue to cook for about 10 minutes. Turn the slices once or twice in this time. You are looking for the pieces to be soft and the whites of the rind to have become somewhat translucent on both sides of the slices. But you don't want the slices to be falling apart. Specific timings will depend on the sizes of the slices and the type of oranges used.
- Carefully remove the slices from the pan with tongs and place on a sheet of parchment paper to dry overnight.