As though a big pan full of candied lemon peels isn’t enough, you get a bonus batch of lemon simple syrup out of the deal too. Simple syrup is nothing more than sugar (or honey) dissolved in water and reduced. It is an absolutely fantastic addition to summer cocktails, alcoholic or non. One of the best drinks I have had recently was a cherry spritzer made from combining sour cherry juice and this simple syrup with sparkling water. It’s so refreshing, especially garnished with one of these chewy, zingy candied lemon peels!
- Peel of 4-5 large lemons meat removed, thinly sliced
- Tap water
- 2 cups honey or sugar I used honey, or 1 cup each
- Granulated sugar for garnish optional
- Melted dark chocolate for dipping optional
In a stockpot that fits the prepared peels with room to spare, cover the peels with tap water and bring to a boil. Boil for 3-5 minutes before draining. Return the peels to the pot and repeat.
After the second boil, put the cooked peels in a bowl and set aside. Put the sugar or honey (or both) plus an additional 2 cups of water into the pot, stir briefly, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar/honey into the water, then add lemon peels.
Bring the pot back to a low boil and cook for 1 hour until the water is thick and has reduced to below the level of the lemon peels and the peels are translucent. Turn off the heat and let the peels cool completely in the pot with the liquid, with the top off.
Once the peels and cooking liquid have cooled completely, strain the peels, reserving the liquid in a separate container. Place a cooling rack over a cookie sheet or cutting board covered with wax paper or a nonstick pad. Spread the peels evenly across the rack and set aside in a cool, dry place to cool completely for about 24 hours, or dry for about 3 hours before pressing gently into a bowl of granulated sugar to coat.
Once the peels are completely dry, or have been thoroughly coated with sugar, dunk halfway in melted chocolate and place back on the drying rack until the chocolate solidifies (optional).
Store peels and simple syrup separately in airtight containers at room temperature for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
If you use honey, it is normal that your peels will not ever completely "dry". I dried mine for 24 hours, and they remain moist and sticky in spite of it. Don't get me wrong; they're delicious, but you will be more likely to need a napkin after eating them!
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart