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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.