Candied Oranges

The original recipe for candied oranges was developed by Jean-Pierre Wybauw and Tony Le Duc in one of their pastry books. I had some extra oranges to use so I figured I would give it a shot, and the process of the osmosis of sugar into the oranges is fun.

The process to make these is very intense, and by intense I mean you need to pay close attention to the amount of sugar that is going into the jar of oranges everyday. The reason for this is to slowly allow the sugar to penetrate the cell walls of the oranges. The fruit will need to be blanched briefly in salted water to allow for better absorption. The most important thing that I learned when making this candied oranges is how to make alcohol. Sounds strange and it baffled me the first few times that I made these. Through multiple batches I found that when the jars or your vessels are well sealed that I created alcohol. The first sign that I created alcohol was the champagne style bubbles that flowed out as I opened the jars, next was the smell, and the final indication was that both of my measuring devices showed a decrease in sugar. This means that natural yeast started eating the sugars and created carbon dioxide. The solution to fixing this was simple, do not seal the container, I wrapped my container loosely with plastic and make sure that the oranges are submerged, I do not know the answer behind why it works better but it does.

If everything is done properly then you will have a candied product that can last up to a year without needing to be stored in the fridge. The amount of sugar that needs to be added is going to be determined by how much the fruit absorbs each day. To measure sugar you will need one of two pieces of equipment.

The first is a type of hydrometer that measures Baume. This little device measures the density by floating in the syrup solution. The downside to these is that you need a vessel that’s tall enough to allow the hydrometer to float, and they tend to be fragile.

Hydrometer, Sorbets will read anywhere between 15° and 20° Baume

The second is called a refractometer, and this expensive little device measures the density of sugar by passing light through a few lenses and projecting it onto a scale using Brix as its measurement. This device is very common for wine making and is the best buy if you are using it to make sorbets or even candying fruit.

Once you have found your device to measure the sugar density, grab some oranges and a couple of mason jars.

Candied Oranges

6ea Oranges

4.4# Sugar

2.6# Water

You will need more sugar everyday and for this batch I used two, quart sized Mason jars. Make sure that you accurately check the sugar density, you may not need the amount of sugar that I list each day. It is all based on the daily density, and if the two tools that I listed are unavailable then following the 3.5oz will get you similar results.

  • Combine sugar and water and heat to dissolve. Let cool briefly and check the density. 20° Baume or 36 Brix
  • Place a large pot on the stove and bring to a simmer, add about 1/4C of salt and turn off the heat. You do not want to boil the oranges as this will damage the flesh. Prepare an ice bath for the oranges to fit in.
  • Slice oranges no more than a 1/4in thick and place into hot water. Turn the heat back on medium and blanch for 1 minute.
  • Remove the oranges from the simmering/hot water and shock in ice water.
  • Once cool, stack them in the mason jars and fill with the syrup. The fruit will float which you don’t want. I placed a small metal ramekin in the mouth that was the same width as the jar and it worked perfectly to hold them down.
  • Make sure the slices are submerged and apply the lid, and let sit for 24 hours.

Day 2

1/13/12

  • It is an exciting day of candying oranges! Today we will drain off the syrup into a pot to add more sugar. I took a Baume reading today and the syrup solution was only off by one point. With this being said I will add the exact amount of sugar to the syrup today giving me a total of 3.5 ounces of sugar.
  • Once the solution is drained you will want to take a reading. I find that the best way to do this is to pour the syrup into a plastic squeeze bottle, they are tall and slender which will allow the hydrometer to float.

20120113-210114.jpg

  • Once you have taken the reading, pour the syrup into a pot with 3.5 ounces of sugar and heat until the sugar is dissolved, this wont take much, the syrup will be luke-warm if that.
  • Pour the solution back into the squeeze bottle to take a reading, you might have syrup left in the pot, it is not necessary to measure all of it. You should be reading 22° Baume (40 Brix). If the reading is higher (>;22°) add a little water and mix. If it is low (<;22°) add a little more sugar and dissolve.
  • Pour all of your syrup back onto the oranges and make sure they are submerged, apply the lid. Let them sit for 24 hours.

Day 3

1/14/12

  • Another addition of sugar for the oranges today. Drain the oranges of the syrup into a pot and add 3.5 oz of sugar.
  • Heat and take a reading, today I was at 24.5° Baume and our target was 24° (44 Brix). If you are off by a half point do not worry about adjusting it, but if you are off by more than this follow the steps from day 2 to adjust the sugar content.
  • Once measured and accurate, pour the sugar syrup back into the jars of oranges, cover, and let sit for 24 hours. At this point you might have extra syrup that will not fit into your jars, if this is the case save it for your favorite cocktail.

Day 4

1/15/12

  • I began using the refractometer to check the density and this is what I will be using from here on out, I will still show both readings.
  • After adding 3.5 oz of sugar today, I check the refractometer and I was right on the money! The reading is at 44 Brix (24° Baume)
  • Pour the syrup over the oranges and cover for 24 hours.

Day 5 & 6

1/16/12 – 1/17/12

  • As the sugar solution becomes more dense you will need to allow two days for the oranges to sit in the solution before adding more sugar.
  • On the fifth day, drain the oranges and place the syrup into a pot and add 3.5 oz of sugar. Heat and take a reading, you should be at 47% Brix (26° Baume).
  • Pour the syrup back over the oranges and let sit for 48 hours.

Day 7 & 8

1/18/12 – 1/19/12

  • Today, day 7, I drained the syrup and added another 3.5 oz of sugar to the solution to get a reading of 51 Brix (28° Baume). I poured this solution back into the jar with the orange slices to sit for another 48 hours.

Day 9 & 10

1/20/12 – 1/21/12

  • Today, Day 9, I drained the syrup off of the oranges and added 3.5oz of sugar and boiled the solution. I took a reading with my refractometer and got 54 Brix (30° Baume). The solution was then poured back into the jars and cover for 48 hours.

Day 11

1/22/12

  • Today, I drained the syrup off of the oranges and added 3.5oz of sugar and boiled the solution. I took a reading with my refractometer and got 58 Brix (32° Baume). The solution was then poured back into the jars and cover for 48 hours.

Day 12

1/23/12

  • This will be the last day that you add sugar to the solution that the oranges are sitting in. Strain the oranges and add another 3.5oz of sugar and bring the solution to a boil. Check the solution and make sure you are at 62 Brix (34° Baume). Pour the solution back onto the oranges and let them set and “marinade” for four days.

Day 16

1/27/12

  • The day the oranges are done is a great day! There are a couple of ways to go about finishing the oranges and the first process is by far the easiest.
  • Process 1: Prepare a cooling rack over a pan to catch the syrup the will drip off the oranges slices. Remove the slices from the syrup and place on the rack to dry. You will want the oranges to dry for 24 hours, after twelve hours flip the slices over.

  • After the 24 hours toss the slices in a coarse sugar and leave to dry for another twelve hours. You can now coat them with your favorite chocolate or enjoy them as is!

The second process involves crystallizing a pot of sugar, which I have yet to master, but once I do I will let you all know.

21 comments

  1. Hi Adam, thanks for the detailed info on this method. Tell me when you took the refractometer reading did you do it with the hot syrup and a plastic dropper? thanks

  2. Hi again Adam, I’ve done a test batch but have 2 issues I wanted to ask you opinion on: 1) the rind is quite chewy and 2) the orange itself is still quite juicy, not sure if it should be drier or if they’re meant to be like this because they’re made fresh and not bought ie old??? Any comments/suggestions would be appreciated. cheers Jen

    1. Great questions! To answer both, it sounds like they need to dry longer, I think I dried mine for 3 days before it got to the consistency that I liked. If that does not work then the transfer of sugar into the fruit has not occurred. The sugar would soften the rind significantly and the pulp would still be very moist until it has been dried. If you have a dehydrator, you can try and use that to help speed the process but I do not have one so I always air dry. The rind should soften as it dries, I have had a few problems myself the past two attempts, I created orange alcohol. Please let me know if this helped or if I can help you more.

      1. thanks for your help, I’ll let you know how it goes.

        I’ve also been thinking…I originally thought that boiling the syrup would bring the brix up as the moisture evaporated from the syrup, but reading further it seems you play more with adding water or sugar depending on the measurement at the time. Is heating the syrup merely to dissolve the sugar, or does the temperature also help the osmosis? Does the syrup need to boil for a while? Also, why does the fruit and syrup need to be in the dark-is that just related to keeping it cool? What are your thoughts on this?

      2. Boiling is needed to make sure that the syrup is sanitized, not that much could live in that solution of sugar and water. The heat does help with osmosis and with dissolving the sugar but more importantly you want the sugar to be dissolved, if the sugar is not dissolved then your brix reading will be off and there is a very good chance that those un-dissolved sugar crystals will seed larger sugar crystals and eventually your jar will be a wet sandy mess of sugar, which will prevent the oranges from absorbing the solution.
        In terms of keeping it in a dark place, Light will cause the product to become warmer but more importantly, sunlight can change the flavor properties of anything that should be stored in a pantry. Keeping it cool is important to prevent rancidity and possibly creating alcohol, which I have done, but if it is too cold then osmosis will take much longer to occur.
        Hope these answers helped.

  3. Hi again Adam,
    well I’ve made another larger batch and all seems fine except after a couple of days the slices appear dry, although they still taste good, they’re not as visually appealing as they should be. Any suggestions? I can’t help thinking maybe more glucose in the final marination?? thanks, Jen G

      1. That’s good! That means the sugar began to crystallize, as explained before when you purposely crystallize the sugar and brush it on this will even it out, or by tossing them in granulated.

  4. Just rereading your blog, I realise I haven’t coated the slices in sugar…do you mean a caster sugar? What type of sugar? How coarse? thanks

    1. I would use a standard granulated sugar or something a touch more coarse. The idea is to give the oranges a nice sugar crust, the coarser sugar will allow some absorption of excess liquid but will stay dry.

    1. Definitely not! The idea is to have a crust of sugar on the outside, the original concept behind this is to force the solution on the outside of the oranges to crystallize. To do this you would need to boil a solution of sugar and water and force it to crystallize. At this point you would brush the oranges with the crystals to force the sugar on the oranges to crystallize. The use of powdered sugar would not work because they do not have a good crystal structure. The use of a granulated sugar will help get you that crystal structure on the outside, powdered will get you a soggy and un-appealing candied orange.

  5. I followed a very similar process without measuring the Brix or anything like that, I just added a set amount of sugar every day (or two, I missed a couple of days) for two weeks and had excellent results. What I am wondering is, what is the benefit of starting with a low sugar concentration and upping the concentration every day? Why not start with a higher concentration and soak it for the same amount of time? I am very new to candy-making, so I am certain there is a good reason. My other question is, what do I do with this lovely, fruity syrup now? Can I use it to make hard candies? Thanks!

    1. The amount of sugar that you start with is very important and gets a little scientific, but so I don’t ramble on I will try to keep it short. If the density of the solution is too high(too much sugar) then the juice from the oranges will not be able to escape, and therefore the sugar solution would not be able to enter the cells of the oranges. This process of changing the density of the sugar will also ensure that you remove enough of the water in the oranges and replace it with enough sugar to preserve the product. You can read more into th details of it in Jean-Pierre Wybauw’s book, Fine Chocolates. As far as what to do with the juice, you should be able to cook it to a hard crack stage and turn it into candies but I have not tried anything like this yet.

      1. That makes perfect sense! Thank you. I think I’m going to pick up some lollipop molds today and see what I can make from the syrup. (Though it is also delicious mixed with sparkling water to make lemonade.)

      2. I bet it is great in soda water, you could even add a little milk to make an Italian soda! Let me know how the lollipops turn out!

    2. FYI, adding the amount of sugar in the way you did is perfectly acceptable, I tend to need to know exacts and sometimes products can differ, for example, most homes have granulated sugar, I use a fine bakers sugar. Therefore, a half cup of each will yield different results

      1. I’m very familiar with the problems with volume measures (have you weighed different salts — kosher, table, etc.?), so I usually go by weight. Thanks again for your help. 🙂

  6. I tried doing this method for grapes and small whole peppers. I didn’t have the money to get a brix thermometer that goes high enough so i tried calculating and weighing everyday. i’ve dumped the project. It’s dark inside the peppers and I’m pretty sure they developed mold somehow O.o. I geuss I’m replying to this because of my confusion in buying a refractometer. Anyone know any good brands? I don’t want one made in china; if I buy i want it to be responsibly sourced. why do the companies that sell them replace the degrees sign with %? it just makes things confusing.

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