These peels come from Sicily’s world-famous Navelina orange variety grown just a mile from the Caffè Sicilia pastry lab in Noto. One look and you can see that these are miles away from industrial candied fruit: no amorphous sugary lumps here, just whole sections of real orange peel. Open the bag and you can smell the difference as you’re greeted with the rich scent of orange blossom essential oils. But it’s the taste and texture that steal the show; Corrado’s orange peels are soft, not gummy, but with a dense, almost al dente finish. These rinds are designed to bejewel cakes and pastries. But just like the other candied citruses, they are not confined to the dessert department. Sliced thinly, they are a perfect garnish for salads, flounder fish, or dry-aged steaks.
Try your hand at traditional Italian desserts that call for candied fruits, including panettone, pandolce, cannoli, cassata cake, gelato, and Neapolitan pastries. But you don’t have to be a professional pastry chef to add the rich flavor of Sicilian orange to homemade bread, granola, or cookies. Just rinse the peels under running water, pat them dry and be ready to upgrade your savory dishes. Orange peels add a unique touch to salads, risotto, ravioli filling, pasta sauce, fish, or meat.
Producer Corrado Assenza’s goal is to prolong the life of fresh Sicilian citrus without the use of additives, using only the amount of sugar necessary for preservation. To produce his artisanal candied orange peels, Corrado uses the same fruit that he uses for his marmalade, collaborating with local farmers who grow native Sicilian oranges. Whereas industrial production uses glucose syrup and sulfites, Caffè Sicilia uses none. The fruit is simply steamed in pastry ovens, immediately cooled, and finally dipped in sugar. The key to this process is patience; over 3-4 weeks, the orange peels will slowly absorb the sugar, and then the rinds will be pasteurized and vacuum-packed. Industrial producers cut down this process to just half a day!
Before using these canditi, rinse them quickly under cold running water, then pat them dry. Rinse the canditi you need to use and store the rest in a glass jar in the fridge; they’ll keep for a long time.