A few times I’ve been fortunate to visit the places in Provence that candy whole and sliced fruits. Aside from the usual candied orange and lemon peels, they also candy whole cherries, strawberries, pineapple rings, angelica, Clementine slices, and even whole pumpkins and pineapples. And let me tell you—it’s quite a sight seeing all those glistening fruits lined up on their drying racks.
The first time I paid one of them a visit, I didn’t even need to ask for directions; I just saw the building with all the clouds of steam billowing out of the windows and doors, and went inside.
At home, I frequently candy citrus zest and even citron pieces, but wanted to try to candy long, beautiful citron wedges, like one finds in shops specializing in candied fruits and places like Confiserie Florian (above).
In France you would call these fruits confits, a word which means “preserved.” So when you see duck confit, the duck has been preserved in its fat. Fruit is conserved by using sugar (since I don’t think it would taste all that great preserved in duck fat) and was likely a method developed for storing excessive amounts of fruit.
Today you’ll find preserved fruits in French markets and upscale épiceries, most notably around the holidays, and they’re either used in baking, cut into pieces and eaten as is, or used in fancy decorative centerpieces. Italians makes a lovely condiment, called Mostarda, which are candied fruits infused with mustard seeds, and the spiced candied fruits are often served with meat dishes.
I bought a fairly good-sized Etrog citron, cut it into six lengthwise wedges, removed the tiny bit of pulp, and set about on my project.
It took a couple of days of tending the syrup but really, the syrup did most of the work as I gently simmered it down for twenty minutes a day, until my wedges were shimmering and shiny-smooth. When I was done, I sliced off a bite and it was delicious. Success!
About 1 pound (450g)
Many will likely inquire about the use of corn syrup and if it’s necessary. Corn syrup prevents crystallization so I use it because of the lengthy cooking and reduction of the syrup. I did not try them without using it and you can read more at Why and When to Use (or Not Use) Corn Syrup.
Note that this process takes about a week, although it only requires a few minutes of tending each day. Very important to remember is that as you’re cooking the citron in the syrup, especially as the syrup reduces and thickens during the last few days, monitor the citron and turn them wedges gently, to make sure they are getting evenly candied and not burning on the bottom.
- One 1 pound (450g) citron, organic or unsprayed
- Pinch of salt
- 3 1/2 cups (700g) sugar
- 6 cups (1.5l) water
- 3 tablespoons (60g) light corn syrup
- Additional water for blanching the citrons
1. Wash the citron and cut it into six wedges, lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop away any pulp. (It can be reserved for another use, if you wish.)
2. Put the citron wedges in a large pot, cover with plenty of water, and bring to a boil with a nice pinch of salt. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the citrons cook until they’re completely translucent, about one hour. Drain and rinse the citrons.
3. In the same pot, heat the sugar, water, and corn syrup until it comes to a boil. Reduce the heat, add the citrons, and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand overnight, at room temperature.
4. Day 2: Bring the citrons and the syrup to a low boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand overnight, at room temperature.
5. Day 3: Bring the citrons and the syrup to a low boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand overnight, at room temperature.
6. Day 4: Bring the citrons and the syrup to a low boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand overnight, at room temperature.
7. Day 5: Bring the citrons and the syrup to a low boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand overnight, at room temperature.
8. Day 6: Bring the syrup and citrons back to a simmer and cook until the temperature reads 235ºF (112ºC) – watching carefully so they don’t burn or overcook. Remove from heat and let stand overnight, at room temperature.
9. The next day, carefully remove the citrons wedges and let them drain on a wire cooling rack for about eight hours.
Will this work with other fruits?
I don’t know but assume it will, yet haven’t tried it. If you do make it with other fruits, please leave your results in the comments. I plan on trying the recipe on other fruits as they come into season.
Do I need to use corn syrup? Can I substitute something else?
What can I do with the leftover syrup?
You can save it and add it to sparkling water for homemade soda. Also you can make calissions d’Aix, which usually call for candied melon syrup, but use this as a replacement. (You can find recipes online for them.)
How long will these last?
I don’t know exactly but since we’re in the midst of citrus season, I wanted to present the recipe now. It’s a recipe in progress. I’m keeping mine in the refrigerator and will update the post with that information. For the time being, I recommend keeping them in the refrigerator as well and use common sense. They should be fine for at least a few months, but if they show any signs of deterioration (such as mold), discard them.
What can I do with these?
Citron is a wonderful flavor and diced, it makes a wonderful addition to fruit cakes, cookies, spice breads, and other places where candied fruit is requested. Many Italian recipes call for candied fruit. Although it’s glazed, citron isn’t terribly sweet.
Where can I buy candied and glazed fruits, including whole fruits?
The two places I know of in France are Lilamand and Florian. You can check their websites for shipping information. You can also use tips in the post How to Find Foods and Other Items Mentioned on the Site.
Do you have a recipe for Mostarda?
No, unfortunately I don’t. And haven’t seen a reliable one. If you know of where a tried and personally tested recipe exists that uses whole glazed fruits, feel free to leave the link in the comments.
Kumquat Marmalade (A Cooking Life)
Clementines Confites (Lucy’s Kitchen Notebook)
Candied Kumquats or Mandarinquats (Chez Pim)
Bergamot Orange Custard Cups (Hungry Cravings)
Paddington’s Marmalade (Rosa Jackson)