So, my pretties.. I’m beginning to get to the point where I think I will never be able to look another orange in the eye (navel? lol) again! My stepdad recently got given I don’t know how many oranges, and they were really a bit too bitter for eating, or even juicing.
So my thinking cap was well and truly on, as they say. What could I make from all these wonderful, albeit slightly misunderstood oranges? They just needed a little sugar and love to sweeten them up, right?
First up, I started with some preserved and candied oranges. I hunted down some recipes across the net, and based them on these ones (Also see these ones for inspiration). Wow! I never knew there was such a myriad of ways to preserve, candy and generally enliven the humble citrus. But I had to make a few tweaks, since my oranges were so.. curmudgeonly.
So I present to you my oranges two ways – candied and preserved The spices I’ve used in these are vanilla and cinnamon. Cinnamon is pretty straightforward, everyone links cinnamon and orange together, and most of the recipes I’ve found use it. But vanilla? Let me share my inspiration with you.. a little drink made of vanilla Galliano (don’t ask, duty-free purchase, amazing though!), and fresh OJ. Absolutely heavenly. I thought, well if a nice cold drink of that is so smooth, what would oranges soaked in vanilla syrup taste like? My answer – AWESOME!
If you wanted to make this more festive, I’d suggest adding maybe some cloves to the sugar syrup, or maybe some nutmeg. I have to say, though, seeing the little black vanilla seeds floating in the syrup looks pretty darn cool.
For Aussie readers, these recipes are perfect to make about now, as oranges are in season. If you grab a few sterilised jars, it should seal it to help it keep for longer, too. If you have relatively sweet oranges, you could probably reduce the sugar concentration, but it probably wouldn’t hurt them, regardless.
Preserved and Candied Oranges
Ingredients and Equipment
- 6 small to medium oranges (if you have larger ones, I’d probably use about four)
- 4 cups sugar (plus extra for later)
- Vanilla paste to taste (optional) – you could also use a split vanilla bean, I was just using what I had
- Cinnamon sticks, or other (whole) spices
- Vanilla liqueur (I used Galliano, you could use vanilla vodka, or other liqueur)
- A couple of pots
- Something to fish the orange slices in and out of the syrup
- Sterilised jars (see below for method)
- Wash your jars in some very hot soapy water, before placing them in a preheated oven on a tray. Unless you’re lazy like me, make sure you remove your labels before you put them in the oven, otherwise you can have melted glue sticking them to the tray. Once they’re completely dry, they’re ready to use. For this recipe, you’ll only need one for the preserved oranges and a container for the candied ones, but you can also use them for making orange or lemon curd, etc…
- Get a medium-sized pot ready on the stove, fill it with water, and bring to the boil.
- Cut three of the oranges (two if they’re a bit larger) into horizontal slices about 5mm wide. Make sure you’ve washed your fruit first because it’s not going to have the rind removed. I used a normal (unused) household scourer and some hot water.
- Boil the orange slices (minus the ends) for approximately 15 minutes. This is supposed to remove some of the bitterness of the pith. I’m not entirely convinced, so you could probably skip this step (but I’m not responsible for the consequences, okay? lol).
- Drain the orange slices, and put to the side. In your pot, combine 1 cup of water with 2 cups of sugar, cinnamon sticks and one tsp of vanilla paste (to taste). Bring to the boil, and keep it there for 20 minutes to allow the sugar to dissolve and the syrup to reduce. You could add vanilla liqueur here (I only used it for the candied oranges), just reduce the water by how much liqueur you use.
- Add your orange slices. Simmer until they are translucent and tender, before putting them in your sterilised jar. Pour over the syrup to fill the jar and cover the slices. Close the jar and leave to cool on the bench. As it cools, it will seal itself.
- To your leftover syrup, add about 200 mL vanilla liqueur, some vanilla paste, 1 cup of water, and 2 cups sugar. Bring to the boil, and add your oranges, sliced as before. Simmer until they are translucent and tender (again).
- I made a few mistakes here.. I left my boiling oranges on the stove and the syrup started to caramelize, so mine are more marmalade-flavoured than yours will be. But the syrup still tasted pretty good.
- Turn your oven on as low as it will stay (100-150°C), and put the slices on a wire rack, on an oven tray. Leave them in the oven until they are dried. Mine didn’t dry completely, they stayed pretty tacky.
- Remove from the oven and dust in sugar to remove the moisture. I stored mine in a container with vanilla sugar in it.
- You can reserve the syrup for later use. Mine is sitting in the fridge, waiting for my inspiration!
- Candied oranges should be fine at room temperature, but probably keep the preserved ones in the fridge just in case.
Morale of the story? NEVER leave sugar unattended on the stove. Usually you can rescue it.. but it’s pretty silly!!
Next time I would..
- not boil the candied ones for as long
- reduce the amount of water in the second recipe
- probably do one big batch
til next time, my pretties, with more orangey goodness