Tuesday, 10 April 2012


I have come across hundreds of recipes on the internet of how to make candied fruits and peels but yet none were like those we would find in a candied fruit shop.  Upon completion of my dissertation which was on “The Effect of Brining on Candied Grapefruit Peel”, now I can say, yes, i finally found the recipe!  Please, please.... do not make candied peels by just cooking with sugar on the stove!!! Without delaying lets discover more about candied stuffs.

Candied fruits (fruits confits) are fruits that have been treated with a highly concentrated sugar solution and then dried so that the fruit is covered by a candy-like sugar shell (Cruess, 1958; Pearson, 1970; Pátkai, 2006; Belitz et al., 2009; FAO and WHO, 2010).

According to Cruess (1958) and Les Fleurons d’Apt (2009), the general principles of candying consist of successively and slowly syruping the fruit in increasing concentration of sugar syrup until the sugar concentration in the fruit is high enough to prevent spoilage. The syruping process is usually achieved though repeated boiling and soaking of the fruits in progressively increasing sugar concentration. Cruess (1958) also added that the process must be carefully carried in such a way such that the fruits do not become mushy or tough and shrivelled. After the candying process, the fruit is sometimes washed and dried. It can also be coated or glazed with a thin layer of sugar syrup to make glazed fruits also known as glacé fruits (Morris, 1951; Cruess, 1958).


Fruit should be free from bruises and of good quality.  Slightly unripe fruit is ideal for candying.
Sucrose & glucose syrup
Sucrose is the main ingredient in the candying process. It is the concentrated sugar solution that brings about osmotic dehydration.  Sometimes glucose corn syrup is added:-
  • to produce a more translucent and shiny finished product (Cruess, 1958)
  • to prevent over-drying (Cruess, 1958)
  • to prevent ‘sugaring’ defect by encouraging the inversion process (Dauthy, 1995; Davidson & Jaine, 2006).
Citric acid
According to Dauthy (1995) citric acid provides adequate tartness and also reduces pH of the finished product thereby inhibiting microbial growth. Citric acid is also added to improve colour of the finished product as well as to aid in the inversion process (Morris, 1951; Davidson & Jaine, 2006).
Permitted colorants
Colourants can be added to produce colourful candied peel nuggets that can be added in fruit cakes (Cruess, 1958; Les Fleurons d’Apt, 2009).

Candied citrus peel can be used in a variety of ways as shown below.

In cakes
In biscuits, cookies and pastries
Coated with sugar
In soft nougats and pastes
As a garnish
Dipped in chocolate
In sorbets
As a secondary product in jams
In beverages


---------------------------------------------- Day 1 ----------------------------------------------

1. Wash grapefruits under running tap water.
2. Remove pulp from peel (Preferably in quarters).  I do not advise cutting them into small pieces at this stage!
3. Place the peels in a jar with hermetic seal.  Cover the peel with a 15% salt solution.  Press the peels with wooden barbecue sticks to prevent them from floating and cover tightly with the lid of the jar.  Allow to soak for 24 hours.
Figure 1 - Washing, Extracting peel, Brining

-----------------------------------------------Day 2 -----------------------------------------------  

4. Drain the peels and wash 3-4 times with tap water to desalt them.
5. Soak in hot boiled water for 15 minutes. Drain in colander. Repeat hot water blanching TWO more times.
6. Drain peels in colander, cover and leave aside.
7. Prepare a syrup with the ratio sugar: hot water, 1:1.  Allow the syrup to boil for 5 minutes then add 1% m/v citric acid.  You should prepare enough syrup to cover the peels generously. 

Figure 2 - Preparing syrup

Quantity I used
350 g peel (peel of 30-35 medium size grapefruit)
1L hot water + 1 kg sugar + 10 g citric acid

The syrup was enough to cover the 350 g peel. 
Tip 1
Citric acid can be substituted with lemon juice.  1 tbsp lemon juice = 1 g citric acid.  So in my case I could have used 10 tbsps of lemon juice.
Tip 2
To prepare the right amount of syrup, you can cover the peel with water just before draining them at Step 6.  Then, drain the peel and measure the volume of the drained water.  Prepare syrup using the volume obtained.

8. Transfer drained peels into syrup.
9. Put syrup and peels on heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
10. Remove from heat, cover pan with lid and leave peels to soak in syrup for 24 hours at room temperature.

---------------------------------------------- Day 3 ----------------------------------------------  

11. Simmer peels for 15-20 minutes with the addition of sugar if necessary to bring the syrup to 60°Brix.  Leave to soak in syrup for 24 hours.

---------------------------------------------- Day 4 ----------------------------------------------  

12. Repeat step 11 but this time, bring the syrup to 72°Brix.

---------------------------------------------- Day 5 ----------------------------------------------  

13. Drain peels in colander for 1 hour (Use a colander with very large holes to facilitate drainage of the thick syrup.  The metal colanders i used below were not good, so i had to changed them midway).  If you are still having difficulties to drain the syrup, warm it before draining.  Make sure you cover them with cling film to prevent contamination.  At this stage, everything has to be done in a hygienic way to ensure that your final product stays longer.

Figure 3 - Draining  (Cover them to prevent contamination)
Figure 4 - Colander (This one is perfect with large holes)
14. Cut peels in desired shape and allow to dry in an oven at 60°C for 90 minutes ( I used a binder climatic chamber/ air drying also works well but may increase the risk of contamination).
15. Allow candied peels to cool on a rack to room temperature.

Figure 5 - Just removed the candied grapefruit peels from the oven
16. Store in sterilised jars or plastic airtight containers in a cool dark place or in the refrigerator during hot summer.  Since i did not use air drying, my candied grapefruit peels stayed for 1 1/2 years at room temperature (Here in Mauritius, the room temperature is about 28°C).  I still have some in very good condition :-D 

Figure 6 - Packed candied grapefruit peel

As we have seen earlier, we can use candied grapefruit peel in many ways.  Most of the times, i use them in cake batters.  However, you can turn these little goodies into luxury gifts.  Yeah.... you heard it right.  Dip them in chocolate or coat them with sugar; pack it in a fancy way and you can gift them to just anybody you want.  Believe me, they are going to like it.  Click here to get more ideas on how you can pack your goodies!

Figure 7 - Candied grapefruit peel coated with sugar & dipped in chocolate

This one was tastiest.  It had a lemony sweet taste and was perfect in cakes.  I loved it.  Pomelo does not require brining pre-treatment since the peel is not bitter.

Figure 8 - Candied pomelo/pommelo/pumelo

My favourite one indeed!! In two days, all of them disappeared.  I did not like the colour change though.  It was creamy white initially but changed into a translucent orange colour at the end.  I should not have allowed excessive sugar caramelisation!  
Figure 9 - Candied papaya/pawpaw

The same recipe can be used for candying most fruit.  However the brining pre-treatment differs.  BIT and PNUE (1990) recommended brining pre-treatments for the followings fruits:
  • Cashew apple: Initially, brine the cashew apples in a 2% salt solution for 24 hours.  Then increase salt concentration by 2% each day until it reaches 10%.
  • Kumquat: Initially brine the kumquats in 2% salt solution with the addition of 0.5% sodium bisulfite for a day. Then increase salt content to 4% on second day.
  • Fig: Brine the Figs in 4% salt solution with the addition of 1% sodium bisulfite for a few days.
  • Papaya: Soak the papaya in water and lemon juice for 3-4 hours (15g lemon juice per litre of water).
  • Olive: Brine the olives in 2% salt solution for 24 hours. Then increase salt concentration by 2-3% each day until it reaches 15-20%.
  • Citrus peel: Brine in a 15% salt solution for 24 hours.  If the peel is not bitter (E.g. Pomelo), brining is not necessary.
  • Other fruits like pineapple, dates and apricot do not require the brining pre-treatment since they are sweet fruits. 

  • Addition of glucose in the syrup may help to reduce crystallisation.
  • Addition of citric acid promotes inversion which reduces crystallisation.
  • Avoid storing candied citrus peel at very low temperatures.
  • candied citrus peel should not be too hard or too soft.  Overcooking may harden the peel or soften the peel depending on the citrus fruit used and the shape it has been cut.

  • Belitz, H.-D., Grosch, W. and Schieberle, P. (2009), Food Chemistry, pp. 270, 419, 801, 833, 851, 855, 873, 4th revised and extended edn, Springer, Heidelberg.
  • BIT and PNUE (1990), Conservation des Fruits à Petite Échelle [Online], Serie Technologie, No. 14, Ch. 4 (section 4.5), Bureau international du Travail, Genève, Suisse.  Available at: <http://sleekfreak.ath.cx:81/3wdev/CD3WD/FOODPROC/H2707F/B130_7.HTM>.  [Accessed on 31st January 2011].
  • Cruess, W.V. (1958), Commercial Fruit and Vegetable Products, pp. 480-489, 4th edn, McGraw-Hill Book Company, USA.
  • Dauthy, E.M. (1995), FAO Agricultural Services Bulletin: Fruit and Vegetable Processing, pp. 97-203, International Book Distributing Co. (Published by arrangement with the FAO of the United Nations), Lucknow, India.
  • Davidson, A. and Jaine, T. (2006), The Oxford Companion to Food, p. 769, 2nd edn, Oxford University Press Inc., New York.  Available at: <http://books.google.mu/books?id=JTr-ouCbL2AC>.  [Accessed on 21st February 2011].
  • FAO and WHO (2010), ‘Food Category Details: Candied Fruit (’, CODEX General Standard for Food Additives (GSFA) Online Database [Online], Available at: <http://www.codexalimentarius.net/gsfaonline/foods/details.html?id=66>. [Accessed on 1st February 2011].
  • Les Fleurons d’Apt (2009), ‘Histoire et Tradition; La Fabrication de Fruits Confits’, D’écouvrir Notre Savoire-faire [Online], Les Gourmandises de Provence - Aptunion / Les Fleurons d’Apt, France.  Available from: <http://www.lesfleurons-apt.com/>.  [Accessed on 29th January 2011].
  • Morris, T.N. (1951), Principles of Fruit Preservation, pp. 62-66, 3rd edn (Revised), Tripp, H.E. (Series ed.), A Series of Monographs on Applied Chemistry, vol. 6, Chapman & Hall Ltd, London.
  • Pátkai, G. (2006), ‘Fruit as an Ingredient in a Fruit Product’, in Hui, Y.H., Barta, J., Cano, P.M., Gusek, T.W., Sidhu, J.S. and Sinha, N.K. (eds), Handbook of Fruits and Fruit Processing, Ch.13, pp. 219-221, Blackwell Publishing, USA.
  • Pearson, D. (1970), The Chemical Analysis of Foods, p. 239, 6th edn, Longman Ltd, Great Britain.


  1. Interesting post! I recently tried to make candied orange peels but something went wrong. I will try your recipe next time! And well done with the blog - very informative!

    1. Thank you Tatiana. It must turn out well this time :-) This procedure definitely takes time but worth it ^__^ wish you good luck with it...

  2. Dear Ask the Baker... thank you for the excellent recipe! I have some peel brining as I write this. One question for you though... without major expense I have no means of measuring the Brix of the sugar syrup on days 3 and 4. Would it be possible for you to give a rough estimation as to how much additional sugar to add by weight? Many thanks!


    1. yeah the syrup should be very thick forming thin strands when you test it with your two fingers.


Your comments will always be appreciated. Thank you.