25 homemade holiday gift recipes: Candied fruit and citrus peel

Candied fruit and citrus peel, one of 25 homemade holiday gift ideas from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen

Candied citrus peel, glacé cranberries and spirit-soaked fruits are easy to make and are thoughtful gifts for the home baker. They require some planning as well as, for the peel, overnight drying time. For mixed peels, select two or more varieties of the wonderful citrus in the farmers markets this season: California navel oranges, Meyer lemons, pink grapefruits and pomelos. Look for the most vibrant colors.

Candied peels and fruit are just a couple of ways to get crafty this holiday season with homemade gifts from the kitchen. We've compiled 25 great ideas, ranging from quick and simple gifts (perfect if you're working with kids) to more intricate projects that call for a little extra time and patience.

Some gifts will last for weeks, perhaps more. Others are best eaten within a day or two.

Not only are homemade gifts a great way to save money during the holiday season, they're a thoughtful and creative way to show how much you care.

CANDIED ORANGE PEEL

Total time: 2 hours, 40 minutes, plus overnight drying | Makes 1.5 cups candied fruit

Note: From Donna Deane

2 California navel oranges

4 cups sugar

1. Bring three 3-quart pots of water to a boil. Use a small knife to score the oranges into quarters (cut through the peel and pith but not through the fruit). Remove the peel; set aside the fruit for another use.

2. Add the peel to the first pot of water, simmer 2 minutes and drain. Repeat two more times in a new pot of boiling water.

3. Drain the blanched peel on paper towels and pat dry. When cool enough to handle, cut the ends off each piece of peel so that you have straight edges, then cut it crosswise into quarter-inch strips.

4. In a large pot, combine 4 cups sugar and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes, until clear. Add the cut-up peel to the simple syrup and simmer gently 2 hours until the fruit looks translucent. As the peel is simmering, skim off any foam from the syrup.

5. Lightly oil a cooling rack and place waxed paper underneath. Use a slotted spoon to remove the peel from the syrup and place the strips in a single layer on the rack. Let the candied fruit peel dry overnight.

Each 1/4 cup: 266 calories; 0 protein; 69 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 0 fat; 0 saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 0 sodium.

Information box: Glace berries, candied peels

For candied Meyer lemon peel: Remove and blanch the peel of three Meyer lemons as in the candied orange peel recipe. Cut the peel into strips and simmer in the simple syrup 1 1/2 hours until translucent and glazed, and proceed as in the candied orange peel recipe. Makes about 3/4 cup.

For pink grapefruit: Score two pink grapefruits into sixths and remove the peel and pith from the fruit. Blanch and cut into strips as in the candied orange peel recipe. Simmer the cut grapefruit peel 2 hours in the simple syrup until translucent and glazed, and proceed as in the candied orange recipe. Makes about 3 cups.

For pomelo: Score one pomelo into eighths and remove the peel and pith from the fruit. Blanch and cut as in the orange peel recipe. Simmer the strips of pomelo peel 1 hour in the simple syrup until translucent and glazed, and proceed as in the candied orange peel recipe. Makes about 3 1/4 cups.

For cranberries: Do not blanch the cranberries. Simmer half of a 12-ounce bag of cranberries in the simple syrup for 1 1/2 hours until they are translucent and glazed, and proceed as in the candied orange peel recipe. Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

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