Homemade Mixed Peel

This post contains affiliate links. Please read my disclosures.

Homemade Mixed Peel is so much more flavourful than supermarket bought. It isn’t as bitter and has a more fully rounded flavour that captures the essence of citrus season.

Homemade Mixed Peel in a jar on a wooden table

Until recently I didn’t use a lot of mixed peel in my baking. Instead if a recipe called for it I simply swapped in the zest of an orange and lemon or perhaps even a tablespoon of marmalade. That’s because mixed peel is one of the ingredients that Luke abhors. He can taste it a mile away so it has been useless to hide it within my fruit cakes as he would simply reject it upon first bite. He also knows which bakery adds mixed peel to their Eccles Cakes, his favourite treat, and takes his custom elsewhere. So mixed peel had been relegated from all baking in our household and substitutions relied upon instead.

Oranges, lemons and grapefruit in or next to a basket on a wooden table

What Is Mixed Peel?

Mixed peel is one of those ingredients that is featured in a lot of British baking, from traditional fruit cakes like Dundee Cake or Christmas Cake to tea time fare like the aforementioned Eccles Cakes or Hot Cross Buns. Mixed peel is basically candied lemon and orange peel. Eighteenth century bakers knew that the most intense flavour of any citrus fruit is derived from the peel. So intent on capturing as much flavour as possible in their recipes and mindful of preserving since fresh fruit was scarce, the peel was candied, dried and stored until needed. These traditional recipes are now the backbone of British baking so mixed peel has been handed down to us in our grandmothers’ and great great grandmothers’ recipes often when dried fruit is called for.

Homemade Mixed Peel in a jar on a wooden table surrounded by citrus fruits

Earlier this month I was recipe testing one of my Auntie Lil’s classic cakes, She was a bit of a baker and her Vinegar Cake, which was her traditional everyday fruit cake, was legendary. I have had the recipe tucked into my recipe file for years now and recently I have been attempting to recreate an authentic gluten-free version of her renowned cake. Auntie Lil’s recipe, like a lot of traditional fruit cakes, calls upon mixed peel as an ingredient. Since I wanted a result as near as the cake she baked for her young family I dutifully added mixed peel from the supermarket along with the other dried fruit it asked for. At first bite I couldn’t work out why the cake tasted so horribly bitter, there was almost a sourness that butted up against the soft plump sultanas and raisins which was distinctly and acidically unpleasant. It soon became apparent that in my enforced abstinence from mixed peel I too had developed a dislike for it.

Close up of Homemade Mixed Peel in a jar surrounded by citrus fruits

But how could that be? I love citrus, I love the brightness of intense lemon and orange peel. There should be no reason why mixed peel doesn’t appeal to me too. But the supermarket stuff, when tasted by itself is just not that nice. So I set about making my own. And since I now had dominion over the mixed peel I added grapefruit peel as well to add a third dimension of citrus to the proceedings.

Mixed Peel in a bowl on a wooden table

Mixed peel in a large white mixing bowl

Homemade Mixed Peel in soaking syrup in a large bowl

Homemade Mixed Peel drying on a cooling rack

Much like my Homemade Glacé Cherries, when you make it yourself there is absolutely no comparison to the shop bought stuff. You could eat Homemade Mixed Peel by the spoonful. In fact since I made so much Cole and I have been dipping our hands into the jar and taking out small sticky handfuls at snack time as a little treat. Making Homemade Mixed Peel is a labour of love and requires about a week of soaking it in a sugar syrup, draining it from the liquid, boiling the sugar syrup down and re-soaking the peel multiple times. Although the really trying time comes after the mixed peel has been drained of the sugar syrup and then needs to dry in a sterile environment for about a week. I dried mine in my switched off oven but since I use my oven almost every day it has required a lot of patience not to bottle the peel earlier just to get it out of the way. I definitely need to invest in a dehydrator for this purpose. When I do I’ll make the recipe again and let you know how it goes.

Close up of Homemade Mixed Peel in a jar

Suffice to say that when it came time to recipe testing Auntie Lil’s Vinegar Cake with the Homemade Mixed Peel the results were pretty on the money. Gone was the nasty bitterness, instead the lovely fragrance of sharp citrus permeated the cake and sat comfortably alongside the rest of the ingredients. The recipe has been a triumph and I’ll be sharing it soon, so stay tuned. And as for Luke, he has conceded that if I were to start using Homemade Mixed Peel in my baking then that wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Thumbs up indeed.

Homemade Mixed Peel in a jar on a table surrounded by citrus fruits

In the meantime if you are making this Homemade Mixed Peel you will find you have two delicious extra kitchen ingredients leftover from the recipe. You will have copious amounts of citrus flesh from the beginning step once you have peeled the fruit, and also the most beautiful citrus sugar syrup from the end step once you have drained the peel away from its soaking syrup. Do not throw either away. I’ll be posting a recipe for my Triple Citrus Shrub in the next few days to use up that citrus flesh and I’m working on a compendium of recipes to make the most of that delicious citrus sugar syrup which I’ll be sharing soon.

Close up of Homemade Mixed Peel in a jar

Homemade Mixed Peel

Homemade Mixed Peel

Homemade Mixed Peel is so much more flavourful than supermarket bought. It isn’t as bitter and has a more fully rounded flavour that captures the essence of citrus season.
4.86 from 7 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: British
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 34 minutes
Servings: 72 servings
Calories: 79kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 organic oranges unwaxed if available
  • 4 organic lemons unwaxed if available
  • 1 organic grapefruit unwaxed if available
  • 2300 ml cold water
  • 1350 g granulated sugar

Instructions

Day 1

  • If your fruit is waxed then you will need to wash off the wax from the skin of the fruit first by giving it a light scrub. Cut the oranges, lemons and grapefruit into quarters then with very sharp knife remove the skin from the pith and the flesh.
  • Cut the peel lengthways again. You might need to cut the lemon peel once, the orange peel twice more and the grapefruit peel three times more to get even sized pieces. Then cut widthways into short thin strips.
  • Weigh the peel, you should have around 450g.
  • Place the peel into a stainless steel saucepan with the cold water then bring to the boil. Turn the heat low and simmer for 1 hour.
  • Remove from the heat and set a sieve over a large bowl. Pour the contents of the saucepan through the sieve, set aside the peel for one moment and weigh out the cooking water.
  • Pour 1140ml of the cooking water back into the saucepan with 900g of the sugar. If you don’t have enough cooking water then just top up with tap water. Bring the sugar and water to a gentle boil and simmer for 10 minutes until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Pour the sugar syrup over the peel, cover and leave the peel to soak for 24 hours.

Day 2

  • Strain the syrup into a large saucepan and return the peel to the bowl.
  • Add the remaining 450g of sugar to the saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer for a couple of minutes making sure the sugar has completely dissolved.
  • Pour the syrup back over the peel, cover and leave for another 24 hours.

Day 3

  • Pour the peel and syrup into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Pour everything back into the bowl, cover and leave the peel to soak for four final days.

Day 7

  • Drain the fruit, place on a fine wire rack and leave in a sterile dry place until no longer sticky, such as a turned-off oven. Although leave a note on the oven that it is not to be used. The mixed peel can take as long as seven days to completely dry. The best way to store the mixed peel afterwards is in sterilised glass jars and should keep for at least a couple of months.

Notes

Recipe adapted from the Reader's Digest 'The Cook's Scrapbook' Ed. John Palmer

Nutrition

Calories: 79kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 26mg | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 55IU | Vitamin C: 8.1mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 0.1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @FromTheLarder or tag #FromTheLarder!

Have you tried Homemade Glacé Cherries yet?

Homemade Glacé Cherries

Comments

  1. Hi, I also hate shop peel. Home-made has been one of the great revelations! It’s so fragrant and full of flavour – an absolute game-changer. I use the Honey & Co. recipe, which is quick and easy. They keep the peel in the syrup, so it stays lovely and moist. I’ve just finished the last of a jar I made two years ago! I put some of the syrup in my Christmas pudding and have been wondering what to do with the rest so am looking forward to your recipes.

    I’m going to make more tomorrow, for putting in stollen…

  2. After the peel is done soaking, is it possible to dry it in a fruit dehydrator for faster processing?

  3. Claire Kellaway says

    Hi, just looking for ideas as to what to do with all the fruit I removed from the peel please?

  4. Jill McMaster says

    I am going to be making this mixed peel to put into my Christmas mince, I made another recipe a few weeks ago and it was nice but I’m always looking for better recipe so I’d like to try this one next. Reading all the feedback has been really useful, if it’s any help to anyone I previously used the leftover syrup for a baklava, it tasted absolutely fab!

  5. Frances Montgomery says

    I dried mixed peel in oven as suggested. It was still a little tacky after drying for 7 days. I decided to get it out and store it in refrigerator. Much to my dismay, I realized mold had started to grow on it. What did I do wrong?

    • Oh no Frances – how deeply disappointing for you!! Two things might have caused it – your oven wasn’t completely clean / sterile before use, or the weather – if it’s hot and humid where you are then the atmosphere in your oven might be warm too.

  6. Greetings from South Africa. I can’t wait to try this in my fruit cake recipe.
    I’m on day 2 now so five more to go.

  7. Adela Mae Martinez-Alguno says

    Hello Georgina. I have been baking breads from different parts of the world and came to know about Hot Cross Buns. I wanted to try that bread out but there are no mixed peel available in my current country. It is also difficult to go around looking for it due to quarantine. I am so glad I came across your mixed peel recipe and I am on the drying stage now. It’s funny because my husband and kids were already trying the candied orange and lemon and it’s not even dry yet, hahha! I thinly peeled my oranges and lemon and took out most of the pith. It already tasted so good (with a very slight hint of bitterness) and can’t wait to add this to my hot cross buns which I am planning to bake next week (or soonest this mixed peel is dry and ready)! Thank you so much for sharing your recipe. Truly appreciated.

  8. 5 stars
    I just printed the recipe, I yet to try. I think this will be so much fun

  9. Cineaste2 says

    5 stars
    Well colo(u)r me late to the party. After this Yank learned what mixed peel actually was (stateside we call it candied orange or lemon peel, usually with the tip of the fruit dipped in chocolate), I decided to take the challenge and make it for myself.

    I missed baking hot cross buns this Easter when I ran across Paul Hollywood’s recipe that includes the infamous peel. I’m in the drying stage now and look forward to adding it along with some sultanas (we call them golden raisins!) to the enriched dough.

    Cheers and Thank You!

  10. Hi, I’m onto day 4 and thinking about my Hit Cross Buns next weekend.
    I was going to air dry but wondering if I can use the fan function on the oven to speed this up, like a dehydrator?
    What do you rhinl?
    Cheers, John

    • Yes I think using the fan function is a good way of drying the peel, it’s a sterile environment so will work better than air drying.

      • Kelly Bell says

        Really enjoying having a try at this recipe. Having read this comment I wanted to ask – if the lowest temperature my oven has for the fan to come on is 30C – should I use the fan or do I need the oven to be totally cool?

      • Hi Kelly, yes you need the oven to be totally cool – you can’t risk cooking the peel.

  11. I’m doubling this recipe to add equal amounts citrus peel and rutabaga. Just checking but I should also double the sugar and water as well, right? Thank you!

  12. Wondering about doing this with coconut sugar or honey. I can’t have cane sugar Any suggestions.?

    • I haven’t tried substituting the cane sugar with coconut sugar or honey. I don’t see a reason why it wouldn’t work – although I would stick to coconut sugar as honey would be too overpowering a taste in this recipe. I can’t guarantee the results as I haven’t made it this way before but if you give it a go I would be intrigued to know how you get on!!

  13. Karen LaCroix says

    I ;have left this quite late so I will be trying to dry it in my dehydrator and I will be keeping a very close eye on it. I will let you know how it turns out!
    Karen LaCroix
    Edmonton, Canada

    • Using the dehydrator is a perfect way to dry the mixed peel. I look forward to hearing how you get on with it!

      • hi Georgina,
        Well I used the dehydrator but I’m a little unsure what the finished product should be like. Mine is fairly dry but still slightly sticky when it cools from the dehydrator, it doesnt stick totally to gether so will come apart with slight agitation. It was only in the dehydrator for 8 to 8.5 hours on the lowest settin 95degrees F. I will be using most of it right away but if storing it I think a couple more hours in the machine would make it easier to handle later on. I am very pleased with the results of this experiment.

        Karen LaCroix

      • I’m happy you’re pleased. If you are unsure whether the peel is dry enough then I suggest storing in the fridge where it will keep a lot longer.

    • Karen! You are a life saver (and time saver)! I finished up day seven just now. I am hoping to make Florentines tonight and want to have my peel ready by then. I went to frantically scroll through the comments, and I just saw your update from two days ago. I’m going to try 95 degrees at 8 hours too. Thank you so much!

      Georgina, thanks for the recipe. Can’t wait to taste the final product!

  14. Sarah O'Halloran says

    4 stars
    If you add another orange or two for extra peel, I’m sure you could use all that lovely leftover fruit pulp to make some great marmalade. I have found that when making marmalade if I bring the peel to a boil in water and then dump that water and start over, most of the bitterness is gone right away. I was tempted to do it with your recipe but I’m trying your way first.

  15. 5 stars
    Hello absolutely delicious peel. Thank you for this recipe however I have a question about the syrup. How long will it keep and do I keep it refrigerated etc? Theres quite a lot of syrup and I think I can use some over xmas in cocktails but I need to use my imagination on what else to do with it before it goes off. Thank you

    • Hi June, you don’t need to keep the syrup refrigerated as it will keep really well. If you do keep it in the fridge though it pretty much lasts forever. One of my favourite uses of the syrup is to use it in an oven baked chicken wing marinade. It also works with sausages over the festive season. You can drizzle it over ice cream, porridge or into hot cocoa. You can brush over just baked cakes for added flavour and a yummy texture or even to the buttercream. Lots of things you can do with it, hope this helps!

  16. Katja Willeford says

    Hello! I’m half-way through the process and my nervousness is kicking in. I shouldn’t be refrigerating it for the four-day soak, should I? So far so good though! I hope it loses some of its bitterness. It’s all my husband could taste at first.

    • No, you don’t need to refrigerate it for the 4 day soak – although if you have it doesn’t matter. It does lose a lot of bitterness but also depends on how much pith you left on the citrus skin. The more pith the more bitter. Mixed peel is supposed to have a slight bitterness but it’s much more mellow and sweet than the shop bought version.

      • Oh no! I totally had a mum moment (toddler and baby in the background being silly) and left the pith on. By the time I realized what I had done, it was already too late. Did I totally ruin it? I was making it for my mincemeat.

      • Hi Clarice, not to worry at all. You don’t need to remove the pith, it’s a personal taste thing. I do like to remove some of it but leave a little and some people like to remove it all. You won’t have ruined it, it will just taste a little more bitter but in a mincemeat actually that works really well. You’ll be fine. Let me know how you like it when it’s done!!

  17. I’m on Day 3 of this recipe, and I’m wondering if paper towel can be substituted for a fine mesh wire rack on Day 7 as I don’t have one. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. It’s a wonderful labor of love and I can’t wait to use it in my gluten free fruitcake.

    • Hi Shannon, I’m afraid it wouldn’t work drying the peel on paper towel as the peel would be very sticky and the the paper towel would dry onto your peel. Non-stick baking parchment would be a better choice if you don’t have a cooling or drying rack.

  18. 5 stars
    This recipe makes gorgeous mixed peel. This will be the second year I make it for my mincemeat recipe. So worth all the steps.

  19. 5 stars
    I decided to try this recipe because, although it was a longer process than some others, I had also read that it is traditionally a long process and the shorter methods had complaints that the results were bitter. I tried the peel after the first steep and it was bitter at that point. I just got done with the final steep and it tasted much less bitter than supermarket mixed peel! I wanted to use some straight away in panettone (where I will also use some of the steeping syrup) and when I chopped it up the smell was absolutely amazing! Another world from shop bought. I did have much less peel than your recipe says but I did remove so much pith the peel was see-through. I adjusted the other quantities in line with what I had and it turned out great! Thanks for sharing your family recipe 🙂

    • Hi Laura, thank you for your feedback. It’s true this recipe is a labour of love but it’s so worth it isn’t it!!

      • It really is! The only trouble is I’m now worried I’ll never be able to buy shop bought again! Hahaha 🙂 I’m making some more already for Easter recipes

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating




*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.