Casca de toranja cristalizada

If we hurry we will be late.When it comes to preparing for Christmas I always like to be ahead of the game.As much preparation of those fiddly little extras that can be done in advance of the main event will put you in good stead.
I have already given you recipes for plum chutney and mincemeat so that it can mature for a few weeks and be just ready when you need it over the festive period.This week I was given some gorgeous Portuguese pink grapefruits from a friends tree.These are now in season through into the New Year, so if she can spare me some more we can share more recipes using grapefruit.Grapefruit trees thrive in a subtropical climate, however still do well in Portugal, though grow with a slightly thicker skin,which is perfect for what I wanted to do, make candied peel.
These candied peels are not too difficult to make at home and would be perfect as a garnish on top of a dark chocolate cake. Or just dipped into a vat of ganache. Chocolate can fix almost anything, well almost.Many Portuguese households like to keep some homemade candied peel always at hand to use both in cakes and to eat as a snack.The most rewarding thing about this recipe is the heady aroma that fills the room.Who needs to fork out top dollar for a Jo Malone candle when you can boil a bit of old grapefruit pith and get the same sensation for less than a Euro.

Portuguese Candied Grapefruit Peels                                                                   
Ruby red grapefruit peel- any amount
the same weight of granulated sugar
1 cup of superfine sugar (optional)

When eating citrus fruits (oranges, lemons,limes and grapefruit) save the peel and ask your family to do the same.Most of the pith must be left when peeling the fruits,otherwise the peel is too bitter.It will keeep in the fridge for a couple of days.Then when you have enough soak it for 24 hours,changing the water several times to get rid of the bitterness.Cut the peel into strips 1/2inch (12mm) wide and place them in a pan containing boiling water.Bring back to the boil and remove at once.Drain and put the parboiled peel in a clean cloth to absorb all the moisture.When it is as dry as you can get it,weigh it.Using the same weight of sugar,make a syrup with just the minimum of water,boiling until thick (the syrup will present pearl-like bubbles on its surface.)
Add the peel and stir it around to get it well coated in the syrup.Do this over a very low heat,being careful not to break the peel.Allow the mixture to become quite dry,but without burning it.Pour on to a tray and separate the strips immediately with a knife. Allow to cool overnight. 
If the peel is not perfectly dry at this stage it may go mouldy very quickly,so either boil it again with great care in order to finish drying,or leave it spread out over a tray or board for a day or so,turning now and then.
Keep candied peels at room temperature in an airtight container.


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