Homemade Mixed Peel

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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

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.

Homemade Mixed Peel

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

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.

Homemade Mixed Peel

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.

Homemade Mixed Peel

Homemade Mixed Peel

Homemade Mixed Peel

Homemade Mixed Peel

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.

Homemade Mixed Peel

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 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.

Homemade Mixed Peel

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.
4.8 from 5 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. I have a question… in the directions it says to remove the pith, but in the photos your peel very clearly has quite a bit of pith on it. So I just wanted to know which was right before I started the recipe. Thank you!!

    • Good question. We’re not making marmalade so we don’t need to remove all the pith. As you can see I don’t usually remove all of it but some citrus fruits are more pithy than others. The more pith you remove the thinner the eventual mixed peel will be. Basically it’s up to you.

      • Thank you! I ended up doing it twice. One with pith and one without. The one with got binned as it was just too bitter for our liking. But the other is great! I usually make a short version of candies peel but this tastes much better and worth the time. I used my food dehydrator on its lowest setting to dry it which make quick work of the final step. Now off to make Christmas cakes!
        Thanks so much!!

      • Hi Corinne, that’s really interesting. I don’t mind a little bitterness so like keeping a little pith on but it’s so lovely to have the option isn’t it! Great work on your experimentation! Happy Christmas baking!

  2. Rachel Varnado says

    Hi, I am currently in the process of making this mixed peel recipe. I am planning on making hot cross buns with it. I dont want to waste the syrup/juice that it soaks in. Do you have any recommendations for recipes I can use that in or with?

    • The syrup lasts for ages. If you’re using the peel to make Hot Cross Buns then use the syrup to brush over the buns when they are fresh out of the oven instead of traditional sugar syrup. You can also use it to brush over warm muffins, brushed over chicken wings for sticky citrus chicken wings, in marinades, dressings, poured into the bottom of a glass and topped up with prosecco or champagne or even sparkling water. It’s incredibly versatile and as I said lasts for a long time.

  3. 5 stars
    Hi Georgina.
    I have just completed a double batch of this wonderful mixed peel recipe. Living in the tropics, drying the peel was effortless and quick; outside in full sun for just two days. It is so good I can’t stop nibbling at them. If there is any left, I shall be making spiced buns to remind me of Easter back home! Thank you!

  4. Hi there!

    I have a tradition each year of making a Christmas pudding on my birthday (mid-October) in preparation for Christmas night with my family. I’m an ex-pat in the US, and a few of the ingredients are tricky to come by (you wouldn’t believe how difficult suet is to get around here). Mixed peel is the other tough find(usually I have to have a family member just ship me some), and for the last couple years I’ve simply omitted it.

    This year, I’m going to make your recipe ahead of time for my pudding, but I have one question, as it relates to timing.:

    Can I go straight from Day 7 into my pudding, or is the drying a crucial, unskippable step in the process, even though mine is going straight into the pudding bowl to be steamed for 8 hours?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Josh, what about your local butcher for fresh suet? I normally have to get it direct from the farmer at our local farmer’s market since I need mine to be gluten-free and the packaged stuff is made with wheat. However, for the mixed peel, if you are using it directly into your pudding then don’t worry about drying it. However, it will have a bit more moisture but that isn’t so important in a Christmas Pudding. If you were using it directly into a cake then I might be more wary.

  5. Hello,
    I am going to try to make this this week but I am wondering, once I am at the drying stage, it would be ok to just use a dehydrator to dry them right? Then I’d store them in the fridge. I know my question is probably silly but I’m new to all this
    Thank you

    • Yes absolutely! If you have a dehydrator then you’ll be laughing. The trickiest part of this recipe is getting your mixed peel successfully dried without the use of a dehydrator. Completely doable but so much easier if you’ve got one.

  6. Winnie Williams says

    Wanting to try this in hot cross buns, and recipes I’ve found call for mixed peel and candied dried fruit. I’m in the US where candied fruit is usually terrible. If I were combining this mixed peel just with just dried fruit (not candied) in hot cross buns, thoughts on which fruits you might mix with them?

    • For Hot Cross Buns you can really use anything. Sultanas and currants are traditional and just those would be perfect with the mixed peel. If you want to try something a bit different then I like dried cranberries too or even dried sour cherries which have a really lovely flavour.

  7. I am on day 7 or 8 of drying and my peel is still not dry?? I’ve had it in the off oven, the pieces aren’t sticky but they don’t seem dried out. I’m afraid to put in fridge as it will mold?! Any ideas??

    • Georgina Hartley says

      Hi Tamara. If your mixed peel isn’t drying in the oven then there must be some moisture in there. Don’t despair. You have a few choices. You can turn the oven onto its lowest setting to dry out the peel. Just try an hour to see how its getting on. Keep checking as you don’t want your peel to actually cook. Get the peel as dry as you can get it. If you are still unsure then I recommend storing in the fridge where it will keep for up to 10 days.

  8. I made this recipe and checked on it today to see if it was dried and it was moldy 🙁
    I have been drying it on a fine mesh screen in my toaster oven, opening it ever 1-2 days to check.
    Do you have any thoughts on where I went wrong?

    • Georgina Hartley says

      Hi Susan, I’m so sorry to hear that. It’s so incredibly frustrating when you’ve put so much effort into a recipe and it doesn’t work out. The problem would be that your toaster oven is possibly not a totally sterile environment. The moisture is what causes the mould to form. If you don’t have anywhere that you can guarantee is sterile then get the peel as dry as you can before storing in the refrigerator.

      • I had a go at this again. This time with much better results. I made sure everything was sterilized at each step. I dried it in a mesh air dehydrator with a fan on in the room the entire time. It only took 2 days to completely dry with that method. Can this be stored in a pantry or does it need to be refrigerated?

      • Georgina Hartley says

        That’s great news Susan! If the mixed peel has totally dried out then it can be kept in the pantry. However, I always keep mine in the fridge just in case. When you are doing these things at home you can never be 100% sure that no moisture has got in there so I prefer not to risk it.

  9. On day 5 now, plan on making Hot Cross Buns, my kitchen smells wonderful, I dont normally like peel but this is a completely different product, I did also use Texas red grapefruits and some limes. I dont like honey so I am going to try using the syrup from this in place of honey for sticky BBQ chicken

    • Yes, this Homemade Mixed Peel is amazing in Hot Cross Buns!! And I’ve used the stem ginger syrup for all sorts of things – sticky BBQ chicken sounds wonderful!!

  10. Karen Franklin says

    I’m planning to start a batch today. How do you store the completed peel for longer periods – in a jar, refrigerated?

    • Hi Karen, if you dry the mixed peel really well in a completely sterilised environment then the peel should keep very well in a jar in a cool dark place (about 3 months). I often keep mine refrigerated anyway so to guarantee long life but it shouldn’t be necessary if it is dried properly.

  11. Mixed peel isn’t a commonly used ingredient where I’m from (California, USA), so finding this recipe saved me from trusting an online retailer, thank you! I missed the bit about it not being necessary to remove all of the pith, I started with a half dozen each of lemons and oranges and ended up with 180g of paper thin citrus peel. I could hold the peel up to the light and see through it! I double-checked my recipes needing mixed peel and, before the addition of the sugar, I came in with 5g to spare. I am using my oven to dehydrate the peel, which means I’ll have a batch ready justinthenickoftime. I’ll write in again after I’ve used the peel to let you know how it turned out.

    • Oh yes please let me know. It’s such a useful recipe this time of year!! By removing all the pith I think your mixed peel will be ultra refined and delicious!!

      • It turned out really well, I put it on a silicone baking mat on a half sheet and baked it at 75C for six hours, stirring/turning every 2hrs until it wasn’t sticky. I had about 50g left over after making a stollen and a mincemeat tray bake. I am definitely keeping this recipe, I don’t think my bakes would have turned out half as good without it! Even my picky cousin liked it, it was a full citrus flavor with no bitterness and wasn’t overly sweet at all. Thank you very much for helping make my Christmas bakes such a hit!

      • Hi Elizabeth – that’s brilliant! I’m so happy the mixed peel was a success!! I love this recipe too – so useful at this time of year especially!

  12. I came across you while looking for info on glaceing whole fruit and currently have a batch of whole mandarins in the process of glacéing. I can’t wait to try your ginger and cherry as well as this mixed peel!

    Regarding sugars; Sucrose (cane sugar and beet sugar, maple syrup) crystallizes easily. The addition of glucose/dextrose (Corn syrup, honey) inhibits the formation of crystals and results in a syrup that stays in suspension longer. It also give the surface of the fruit a smoother shiny appearance since the sugar doesn’t crystallize on the exterior.

  13. Thank you for the recipe! I’m just finishing day one now. Should we put the syrup peel mixture into the fridge or can it just sit on the counter to soak?

    • Hi Kirsten, you can leave the syrup on the counter – the sugar will preserve it well so there’s no chance of spoilage during the process.

  14. Olaniyi Fatima says

    THANKS FOR THE RECIPE. I’M ON DAY 3, HOW LONG DOES THE PEELS TAKES TO DRY, BECAUSE I WOULD LIKE TO USE MINE BY DAY 8?

    • Not long at all. You can use straightaway pretty much, the small amount of moisture in the peel won’t affect most recipes too much. Or you could just leave out overnight to dry and that should sort it out. The drier the peel though when you store it then the longer it will keep for. On the safe side I usually keep my mixed peel in the fridge where it lasts for ages and ages.

  15. Did this recipe with pomelo peels (in thick slices) in a slow cooker (it was convenient not to be using saucepans all the time). I’m expediting the drying in the oven slightly open at 50degrees. They’ve just become yummy! I was looking for a recipe that didn’t bin the water from boiling a couple of times first and this one fitted the bill. Thank you!

  16. Sandra Bullock says

    I have a problem with the weight and water amount.
    My fruit skin comes to just under 250.
    They were a good size as bought from a Turkish market. But foolishly bought only the amount needed as fruit really quite large.
    I just hope that cutting the quantities of water and sugar have the same outcome.

  17. Just started this yesterday and have a silly question. Besides eating the oranges and grapefruit, what can be done with the peeled fruits that are now sitting around naked in a bowl?

  18. Hello Georgina! Thank you for the mixed peel recipe which I just finished making, it’s in the drying process. It tastes good. I love baking and fruit cake is one of my favorites. I live in North America where you’ll only find mixed peel on shelves during holiday season (Christmas). What do you normally do with the syrup? Thank you, happy baking!

    • I use the syrup for loads of things and you have just reminded me that I have a post all ready to go on this. But the number one thing I do with the syrup is add it to either soda water or prosecco (depending on the time of day) and make a delicious citrussy drink. I also use it in place of honey in some circumstances, like in a fruit salad, drizzled on pancakes and mixed into granola and yoghurt. It’s so versatile and will last for absolutely ages in the fridge.

  19. Earl L. Hargrove says

    I am making some sweet buns that call for mixed peel. I decided to make the mixed peel myself since the store bought uses sugar. I am using honey and maple syrup in place of the sugar in your recipe, nevertheless it is in the process and tomorrow will be the 3rd day. I am making a double batch and I like how you have made the peel allowing it to soak for 7 days as compared to 2 days as some do. I’ll be back to let you know how things turn out.

    • Yes – I look forward to hearing the results!

    • I would like to know the results of using honey and maple syrup, please share..

      • Hi Shareen, it is possible to use honey or maple syrup but the sugar is the preservative for the mixed peel. The higher the sugar content the longer the shelf life. Honey and maple syrup will mean that the mixed peel doesn’t last as long so it depends on how quickly you would use the finished peel. I haven’t tested the recipe with either honey or maple syrup so I couldn’t guarantee how long your peel would last for and I would be tempted to keep it in the fridge. Also, the issue with using honey or maple syrup specifically is that both have a very strong taste which would affect the final taste of the mixed peel and the citrusy notes would be diluted. You would have to be comfortable with whatever recipe you use the mixed peel in to take on a honey and maple syrup taste too. I hope that helps.

  20. I’m using your recipe to make Mixed Peel for the first time. ❤️ It looks great so far! Do I have to get absolutely all the pith off? Or does the sugar get rid of the bitterness for the most part?

    • No, you don’t have to get all the pith off – you actually keep it on. Mixed peel does have a slight bitterness which is offset marvellously by the sweetness of the candying process. It’s the nice balance of bitter/sweet which is so appealing.

      • These came out fantastic. I’ve been adding mixed peel to our gluten free waffles and it makes them spectacular. I will be needing to make some more soon. Thank you for the recipe and the reply!

      • That’s great! Adding them to waffles is a brilliant idea – I must try it.

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