My quest for fun, tasty alternative uses for 유자 yuja (Asian citron, a.k.a. yuzu in Japanese) and the yuja marmalade commonly used to make the hot drink 유자차 yujacha turns again to a sweet treat from the rind, candied yuja peels.
The earliest record of candied fruits goes back to the 14th century, according to Wikipedia. Candied peels of citrus fruits such as oranges, citrons and lemons were popular in both Europe and Western Asia during the Middle Ages. Arabs call them g’shur purtaghal.
The technique of boiling fruits and/or their peels in sugar syrup preserves the fruit and the rinds from spoiling. In other words, it was a practice of necessity in a seemingly bygone era when “waste not, want not” was a respected maxim.
During the Middle Ages, only the very wealthy — who could afford sugar and citrus fruits — enjoyed candied fruit on a regular basis. Today, thanks to refrigeration and year-long access to many kinds of citrus fruits from various exotic locales, the rich and not-so-rich alike can create and enjoy this recipe.
- 3 yuja fruit
- 2 cup water
- 1 cup sugar (for simple syrup)
- 1 cup sugar (for coating the peels after boiling)
- Cut the top and bottom off the yuja.
- Remove the rind of each yuja from its fruit into 4 vertical pieces and remove from the yuja in one piece.
Cut the rind into thin strips.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500"] (Tammy Quackenbush photo)[/caption]
- Put the two cups of water into a saucepan and boil the peels for 15 minutes. Remove the rind strips from the water. This removes some of the pith's bitterness. Discard the water and set the rind strips aside.
- Bring two cups of new water to a boil and add one cup of sugar. Stir over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.
Add the rind strips to the sugar and water, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the peels are tender, or in about 45 minutes.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500"] The first boil in plain water removes the bitterness from the rind. The second boil, with the sugar and water syrup, adds the sweetness and helps preserve the peels. (Tammy Quackenbush photo)[/caption]
Drain the rinds very well and allow them to dry on a rack until they are almost dry but still sticky to the touch.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500"] I used one of the racks from my food dehydrator to allow the peels to air dry until they were barely wet. (Tammy Quackenbush photo)[/caption]
Toss them in sugar. (Tip: Save the syrup for yujacha or cocktails.)
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500"] I used brown sugar for the coating, but white sugar is more traditional and would brighten the yuja peels. (Tammy Quackenbush photo)[/caption]
Place the rind strips back on the rack and allow them to rest until they are completely dry. That takes 24 hours in summer to 48 hours in winter.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Now the peels are ready for their final drying. (Tammy Quackenbush photo)[/caption]
Candied yuja peels are delicious by themselves as a little snack or dessert, but they are also delicious dipped in chocolate. They would also make a wonderful garnish for your favorite brownies.