Another pressure cooker first that will save you loads of time (10 min pressure cooking vs. 60-90 simmering) and preserve lemon peels to use as home-made candy or to use in your recipes.
The first time I tasted home-made candied lemon peels I was working for the City of San Francisco and a co-worker begged me to bring her the Mayer Lemons from the wine-barrel planted tree I inherited from my mother. A few days later Monica presented me with a little jar filled with candied lemon peels.
“You can use them in your desserts,” she said “…or you can just eat them straight.” Huh? Wha? I tasted one. Then two, then I really couldn’t stop and I told her I had to have more of this tarty sweet homemade candy. She explained that it was a lengthy process and, besides, I had to wait until I could give her more lemons.
Fast-forward 15 years when I started experimenting with jams and marmalades in the pressure cooker. I wondered if the candied citrus-peel making process could be accelerated with pressure, too. It took a bit of experimenting but I finally figured it out.
I make this recipe with regular lemons and they are pretty amazing – unfortunately, no Mayer Lemon trees anywhere to be found in Italy. My mother’s little tree is still in San Francisco, in the capable hands of our family friends Sandra and Richard on their Cole Valley deck.
Nothing goes to waste here. We juice the lemons first and I save the juice in the freezer. You can use ice cube trays (in Italy you can buy ice “cube” baggies) to use for recipes. If the iced lemon juice lasts me until summer I use them to lemony-up a glass of water. Juicing the lemons first makes the task of removing the pulp much simpler and it leaves the peel completely intact.
This recipe has two phases the first is to soften the peels and take the bitter flavor out of the remaining pith. If you’d rather not have pith it’s pretty easy to scrape off the peels after this first boil. If you’re not one to fuddy-duddy, like me, then don’t worry. The peels end-up tasting very similar whether the pith is there or not.
The second phase is the actual candy-ing step and it only needs 10 minutes at pressure (vs. 60+ minutes of conventional simmering). Here, the pressure cooker is brought to pressure with primarily sugar. So don’t be alarmed if the recipe only calls for 1 cup (250 ml) of water the addition of the sugar . Since sugar is technically a liquid the cooker is actually going to build pressure with 3 cups (750ml) of liquid – this should cover the minimum requirement of all 2-8L pressure cookers.
To ensure the peels are not bitter…
- Do not leave any pulp on the peels
- Do not use less water than indicated in either phase
- Do not re-use the water from the first pressure cook phase in the second phase
- Follow the instructions and discard the water from the first phase, strain and rinse the peels, and rinse the cooker base
- Do not replace the water in any step with the freshly-squeezed juice
Don’t be concerned about the peels being soft and pliable during the cooking process – they will firm-up nicely and their final flavor will be set after the last drying step.
If you decide to double or triple the recipe make sure that the lemon peels, sugar and water do not bring your pressure cooker over the 1/2 full line. For your safety, DO NOT release pressure quickly through the valve in this last step. The liquified sugar is molten, hot and sticky. Be sure to follow my directions to the letter and use Natural Release as stated in the recipe.
|Pr. Cook Time
|3 & 10 min.
|Slow Normal & Natural
- Serves: 80-100 strips
- Serving size: 2 strips
- Calories: 6.2
- TOTAL Fat: 0
- TOTAL Carbs: 1.7g
- Sugar Carbs: 1.5g
- Sodium: 0.1mg
- Fiber Carbs: 0.1g
- Protein: 0
- Cholesterol: 0
- 1 pound (500g) organic lemons - about 5 lemons
- 2¼ cups (450g)white granulated sugar, divided
- 5 cups (1.25l) water, divided
- Wash the lemons well, using a scrubby sponge to clean the surface.
- Slice the lemon in half lengthwise and juice - reserve the juice for another use as indicated in the introduction.
- Slice off the nub (where the lemon was attached to the three) at the tip, and then slice each half in quarters.
- Hold the quarters flat on the cutting board peel or slice out the out the pulp. You can use a melon-baller and start removing the pulp at the tip- then when enough to grab comes off you can peel the rest of the pulp off.
- Slice the de-pulped lemon quarters into thin strips - about as wide as the lemon peel is thick.
- To the pressure cooker add the lemon peel strips and four cups (1l) of water.
- For electric pressure cookers: Cook for 3 minutes at high pressure.
For stove top pressure cookers: Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker indicates it has reached high pressure, lower to the heat to maintain it and begin counting 3 minutes pressure cooking time.
- When time is up, open the cooker by releasing the pressure very slowly. If the pressure release speed cannot be regulated by your cooker's valve, simply release pressure in short bursts. If anything other than steam comes out of the valve, stop and count to 10 before releasing the pressure slowly (or in small bursts), again.
- Strain the lemon peel strips and rinse them. Then, discard cooking water and rinse out the pressure cooker.
- Add 2 cups (400g) sugar, 1 cup (250ml) water, lemon strips on medium heat uncovered stirring occasionally until all of the sugar has melted - about 5 minutes.
- For electric pressure cookers: Cook for 10 minutes at high pressure.
For stove top pressure cookers: Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker indicates it has reached high pressure, lower to the heat to maintain it and begin counting 10 minutes pressure cooking time.
- When time is up, open the pressure cooker with the Natural release method - move the cooker off the burner and wait for the pressure to come down on its own (about 10 minutes). For electric pressure cookers, disengage the “keep warm” mode or unplug the cooker and open when the pressure indicator has gone down (20 to 30 minutes).
- Strain peels, saving the delicate syrup if you like for another use, and spread the peels on a cutting board or parchment paper to cool for 15 minutes or more.
- Gently toss four to five peels at a time in a small plate of sugar to coat. Shake off the excess and lay them down on a new parchment on a sheet-pan that can fit in your refrigerator.
- Put the sheet pan with the sugared-coated candied lemon peels in the refrigerator uncovered for at least 4 hours to dry completely -overnight is even better.
- Move the strips to a glass jar for storage in a cool dry place for for 6-8 weeks - or keep refrigerated for up to six months. If you live in a very humid climate, like me, keep them in the refrigerator.