I have a very special relationship with the lemon. Weird, I know. I love big bowls of lemons heaped on a table, fresh lemonade on a hot summer day, the smell of citrus in the air any time of year. In part, this comes from a conversation I used to have with my Dad on a semi-regular basis. He loved to talk about turning your lemons into lemonade. It made me chuckle.
This spring my Dad died, and I miss him every single day so very deeply. We always lived far away from each other during my adult life, but every day I would speak to him while he drove home from work. What I would not give to hear “How are things going, Kid?” just one more time. For awhile, there didn’t seem to be any lemonade to be made. Then, via my mother-in-law, a giant bucket of lemons landed, literally, on my doorstep. So, we set about making lemonade…and that just didn’t seem to be enough. So we juiced those 100 lemons, we froze juice in perfect 1/3 cup servings, and we made beautiful candied lemon peel. When I make a buttery poundcake with candied lemon peel this Christmas, I will think of my Dad and smile. Sometimes, you just have to find your lemonade…sometimes you just have to take the bitter parts of life, add a little sugar, and make the best of them!
How to Candy Lemon Peel
Use a vegetable peeler to remove the peel from the lemon in vertical strips. Try to remove only the yellow zest, avoiding as much of the white pith as possible. Save the lemon for another use.
In a small saucepan, combine the peels with 2 cups cold water. Bring to a boil, then drain off the water. Again add 2 cups cold water, bring to a boil, and drain. Repeat the process a third time, then remove the peels from the pan and set aside.
Measure 2 cups of the sugar into the pan and add 1 cup water, whisking until the sugar dissolves. Add the peels and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the peels are tender and translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the peels and let cool.
Measure the remaining 1/2 cup sugar into a medium bowl and add the peels. Toss to coat. Using a fork or your fingers, remove the peels one at time, gently shaking each to remove excess sugar. Store in an airtight container. The peels will keep for several weeks.