Candied Lemon Peel

I have a lemon tree in my front yard. At least I now know that it is a lemon; when I moved in, the fruit was nothing more than tiny green nubbins, and because all citrus foliage and baby fruit are indistinguishable from all other citrus foliage and baby fruit, it was anybody’s guess what I had. As they grew, I first thought they were limes because they were green and lime-shaped (see the logic there?), but then they rounded out and I was sure they were oranges.

But damned if they didn’t turn out to be lemons (very round lemons, but most definitely lemons), and this is a good thing, because it is hard to have too many lemons. I suspect that when the tangerines on my other front-yard tree ripen in a week or two, I will be thinking I have way too many tangerines. Even though I love tangerines, you can only use so many. But lemons are one thing you can never have enough of.

This is especially true this month, when 1) we have all that holiday baking that calls for candied peels, 2) the stores are probably sold out of it by now, and 3) the stuff you buy in the store is swimming in way too much syrup anyway. It’s much better, and almost as easy, to make your own.

Some recipes direct you to cut away the peel’s white pith; I have found this is not necessary. Keeping the pith means you get about twice as much yield, and it keeps the peel from becoming leathery. Blanching the peels several times takes away most of the pith’s bitterness.

I think it is easiest to cut through the peel before tearing it away from the lemon, leaving the lemon whole. You can then whirl the whole peeled lemons in the food processor to release the juice, and strain the juice through a fine strainer (chinois) or cheesecloth. Ten medium lemons gave me about two cups of juice.

Make sure you save the syrup after the peels are done cooking. Stay tuned for how I used both the candied peels and the syrup.

Candied Lemon Peel

Yield: about 350 g of candied peel and 2.5 cups of lemon syrup


  • prepare and cook: about 2 hours
  • dry: overnight


  • 10 medium lemons
  • water for blanching
  • 600 g (3 c.) sugar
  • 460 g (2 c.) water


  1. Score the lemon peel in quarters. Peel, leaving the lemons whole.
  2. In a large saucepan, cover the peels with cold water. Bring to a boil, drain, and rinse the peels in cold water.
  3. Cut the peels into strips (about four strips per quarter-lemon section).
  4. Blanch the peel strips twice more.
  5. In the large saucepan, combine the sugar and 460 g water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  6. Add the lemon peels (make sure you lower them into the syrup; if you drop them in and the hot syrup splashes on your skin, you will be very sad). Reduce the heat and simmer until the peels are starting to become translucent, about 45 minutes.
  7. Drain the peels, reserving the syrup.
  8. Place the peels in a single layer on a wire rack and allow to dry overnight.
  9. Store in an airtight container, or in the freezer. Store the syrup in the refrigerator.

CommentsLeave a comment

    • JIW says

      No as she said, they are from her garden. I would guess not the same variety as what we get in the market. Mine were always pretty round as well. Almost look like oranges, but certainly taste like amazing lemons.

  1. says

    How lucky for you to have a lemon tree in your yard!!!!! I just love candied peel- I just made orange peel the other day but I had to buy my fruit at the store:(…

  2. says

    Laura, I don’t know if they’re Meyer lemons. They Meyers I’ve seen before are a little smaller and smoother-skinned than this. Is roundness a hallmark of Meyer lemons?

    Anne Marie, thanks for sharing the recipe. I love preserved lemons!

  3. says

    You are a great cook, i would love to see you cook i have a home in south texas Mission and i have a Valley lemon tree, and a lime tree, in back of my yard, but i will prepare your lemon recipe, my bread never comes out right, its either to heavy or as hard as a rock

  4. says

    I love fresh candied lemon peel..sometimes I can’t stop eating it..I have a lemon tree and you are so right, you can never have enough. I make fresh lemon curd all the’ll love it fresh and it’s easy.

  5. says

    Your lemon peel looks so much better than the stuff in the stores! What are you going to do with all those whole peelless lemons? Lemon curd?

  6. says

    For many years my Mum and me we used to make candied orange peel. This month I`m going to try with lemon peel. I’ve just bought 2 pounds of Meyer lemons.

  7. says

    Your lemons are GORGEOUS! To have them in your yard, you are either in Ca or FL…

    I lived on FL (Plantation) for a while, and everyone had Mango, grapefruit or orange (or lemon) trees in their back yards. As time went on, most people removed them!! Can you imagine!? I lived with my uncle, and the former owners of his home had removed theirs, but their neighbor had a ruby red grapefruit tree in their back yard..they hated it!! They said it was DIRTY!! (it dropped fruit!) Another had a mango and they were ‘allergic” to them….And both of them let US pick up what we wanted…Good for us but what shame for them!

    I repeat myself, your Lemons are gorgeous!

  8. says

    I have tried to get citrus trees to grow where I am located, and so far, it hasn’t worked. I may try again. In the meantime, I will have to get to the store pronto for some lemons. I love lemon EVERYTHING.

  9. Bridget says

    Regarding citrus trees, many come in Dwarf varieties, and even in Wisconsin, I kept a dwarf lemon in a large pot, wheeled it outside when it bloomed to be polinated, and kept outside when hot, but inside with plant light above it during winter. Worked great.

  10. Bridget says

    OH, and when bringing it inside for late fall, I’d use pet flea collars, just loose on top the soil to keep bugs from coming inside with it.

  11. says

    Just what I was looking for, this recipe worked really well. I dislike commercial version of candied lemon peels, so this was gift from heaven to my Easter preparations. Thanks !

  12. says

    Thank you, Susan. That’s handy to know how much candied peel will be produced.

    But the reason I asked is that I am doing a combination of orange peel and lemon peel. Of course, the oranges we bought are considerably larger than the lemons… so I weighed the peel of one lemon and discovered that it weighs 25 gm, making the peel of ten lemons weigh 250gm (about).

    I’m at the simmering stage now and the house smells wonderfully of citrus. I can’t wait to try the candied peel!!

  13. JIW says

    Lived in So California for yard and cooking with all kinds of citrus just is-My dad had the best spaghetti sauce and he put a whole orange in and simmered it for several hours. toss the orange and amazing sauce! Anyway for awhile we lived in a house that had several different citrus trees on the property. We had the most amazing fruits. But the cross pollination of them all, made each one quite unique. Grapefruit, lemon, orange and tangelo, yes. but not quite. Made delicious marmalade, fruit juice and yes citrus peel. Now I am in Northern Washington and apples are king. But I fondly and longingly remember fresh organic citrus.


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