Thursday, December 3, 2009

Oranges and Wine

Christmas is apparently coming and I’m preparing for it by candying orange slices. A week long process which involves lots of sugar and takes up a lot of space before it’s finished. It has occurred to me as I drain the oranges, simmer the syrup, and return the oranges (making the kitchen very sticky in the process) that writing Christmas cards would have been a better place to start. Oranges taste better though. As does wine, which is my day job, and this week has had more than its fair share of wine tastings. Wednesdays was (and will remain) the highlight thanks to D'Arenberg wines and some particularly luscious dessert wines which by no coincidence I think will be good with candied oranges.

It all means very little time for reading, so here’s the Orange recipe instead; they aren’t as much trouble as they sound at first and are really worth the effort anyway, especially as they cost a bomb to buy. I’ve seen several versions of candied oranges which take less time, but again the extra effort is worth it as these ones (from a recipe in Acton and Sandler’s ‘Preserved’) are by far the best I’ve tried, and even better every bit as good as the ones a tour guide friend used to bring back for me from Bruges. Just as well as- she’s changed jobs now and Birthday/Christmas wouldn’t be the same without them.

Candied Orange Peel:

10 navel Oranges

1.8 kilos Sugar

200g liquid glucose

Slice the oranges about ½ a cm thick, discarding the ends. Gently simmer the slices for ½ an hour in a large pan, drain and place the slices back in the pan with a kilo of sugar and enough water to cover them entirely. Bring to the boil and simmer for a further ½ hour.

Place a lid on the pan and leave for 24 hours

Remove all the oranges, add a further 200g of sugar to the syrup and simmer until the sugar has dissolved, return the oranges to the pan and leave for a further 24 hours.

Repeat this for the next 3 nights until all the sugar is used.

When the sugar is gone remove the oranges, add the glucose to the syrup, bring to simmering point and put the oranges back in for another 24 hours.

Finally drain the oranges, dispose of the syrup and lay the oranges out to dry on trays for 48 hours.

Store them in an airtight container with plenty of greaseproof paper between them until wanted, when they are excellent dipped in plain chocolate, or sugar.


  1. Would this process work with chestnuts?

  2. Dear Desperate Reader,

    I've been enjoying your blog for several months now, thank you for all your lovely posts.

    I wish I could send you a case full of the ripe oranges from the tree in our backyard! Thanks for the recipe. I shall try this.

    Also thanks for your Violet Trefusis post this week. I have been having a bit of a Vita Sackville-West moment and am also perpetually Bloomsbury obsessed. Just saw Portrait of a Marriage on DVD (rather long and harrowing) and am reading the letters of Vita to Virgina
    at present.

    We live round the corner from D'Arenberg winery!

    Have a good Christmas

  3. Yumm! I remembered yesterday when I whipped up some muffins with Orange and Cranberry how Christmassy the smell of orange is. I must get some more oranges to have a go at this.

  4. Hi Curzon, I think the process for Marron Glace is slightly different, each time you add sugar you boil to a different temp, I have a recipe which I can send you, but I've never tried it to see how well it works.

    Merenia, your back yard sounds lovely, and from pictures your part of the world looks lovely. I've been a fan of D'Arenberg wines for years - they have a sort of cult following in the UK, and one day hope to make it to the winery:)