How to Peel an Orange and Candy the Peel

If you want to prepare candied orange or other citrus peel and have despaired because of the difficulty of removing the peel cleanly, here is an easy way that was taught to me at least thirty years ago.

Slice off the top and bottom of the orange. (or lemon or grapefruit)
Using a soup spoon, insert the tip of the spoon between the peel and the flesh from the top down and work your way around the circumference until there is no resistance.
Now do the same thing from the opposite end, it will be easy to feel when the peel is free from the flesh.
Make one cut from top to bottom along one side of the peel.
Remove the “innards” in one piece and set aside.
Flatten the peel and cut into strips the size you want, these are a little less than 1/2 inch wide – You can also cut into shapes using the little garnish cutters for fancy designs to use for decorations on cakes, etc.
If the inside is exceptionally thick, you can scrape off some of the white stuff by simply scraping it with the spoon face down.

You can cut the flesh into sections, cut the white membrane from the center, spread them on a tray and freeze them, then transfer to a plastic bag. You can juice the flesh in a blender or a juicer if you have one that takes whole fruit or large chunks. You can also pulp it in a food processor and strain the pulp and freeze the juice and you can also put it in a pan and reduce it to a syrup.

Even with taking the pictures it took me less than 3 minutes to take this orange from uncut to finished. I can do more than one a minute if I am not taking photos.


I have been doing this for several years when I need only a small batch and have found that the flavor is more intense.

Try it with just a small amount, one large orange will do. I prefer navel oranges but it’s your choice.

Cut the peel as described above, put it in at least a 1 quart pyrex bowl or measure – fill with water to the quart measure.
A larger bowl or measure will be safer to use, if you have one.

Place vessel in microwave and depending on the strength of your oven set it for 8 to 10 minutes, enough to get it boiling.

Allow it to rest for 5 minutes – the vessel will be very hot – then pour off the water and refill with fresh water, and repeat the process.

If the rind is quite thick, do it a third time and drain. If you are using lemon or grapefruit peel it will take at least two additional sessions with fresh water to remove most of the bitter flavor from the pith.

Prepare a simple syrup, water and sugar equal amounts. 1 1/2 cups sugar in 1 1/2 cups water should be sufficient.
Heat the water in the microwave for about 3 minutes, remove, add the sugar, stir until dissolved completely and heat for an additional 3 minutes.
Gently add the peel to the syrup and stir to distribute it evenly.

Place the vessel in the microwave.
Set the timer for 5 minutes (8 for low-power ovens)
Allow it to rest for 10 minutes – leave it in the microwave unless you need to use it for something else.
Set it again for 5 minutes
Rest for 10
Repeat for another 5 minutes.

Now allow it to cool completely and rest for at least two or three hours.

If the syrup is very thick and viscous, make some more simple syrup – 1/2 cup of water to 3/4 cup of sugar this time.
Stir it well into the syrup and peel and return vessel to the microwave.

Microwave for 8 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully to make sure it does not boil over.

At this point examine the peel. Each entire piece, including the white part, should be translucent and show orange color.

Place a cooling rack on a sheet pan and carefully remove the peel from the syrup (use care, it is very hot) and place on the rack to drain.
Use a slotted spoon or a multi-tined fork because tongs will cut through the peel as at this point it is very tender and fragile.

Save the syrup to cook more peel or use it to top pancakes, ice cream, drizzle on cakes and muffins, sweeten tea or in marinades. There are many uses for this very flavorful syrup.

2 Responses to How to Peel an Orange and Candy the Peel

  1. Cookie1 says:

    This is an interesting and informative blog. I can’t wait to explore it further. I’m off to candy some orange peel as I’ve never done it before.

  2. Amanda says:

    This is a great idea – I’ve never thought of using the microwave to do what is normally a long process. I’ll be giving this a try, thanks.

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