This is the uber traditional Lebanese confection, made yearly by every grandmother in the country whenever Seville oranges (busfeyr) are available. I figured I’d seize my chance when I noticed some. My aunt Wadad was pronounced the sole expert in the family (as the eldest, she learned it from my grandmother before being married off at 18) and I asked if I could watch her do it. Standing tall on her 4-feet, 80 pounds frame, she commanded her instructions leaving no room for adaptations or creative interpretations.
- 2 pounds orange peels (see photo), including the white pith underneath
- 2 pounds white granulated sugar
- Juice of half a lemon
1. Wash and dry the oranges, grate the rind slightly and cut off the tip; using a sharp knife, make incisions all around from top to bottom and remove gently the evenly cut peels. You should have about 4 to 6 per orange (depending on their size)
2. Place the peels in a pot, add water to cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes until softened, then dump the water. Add fresh tap water to cover and soak them overnight, changing the water 3 times. The next day, drain them and press to extract the water. If desired, you can roll each peel like a cigar and thread them with kitchen twine and a needle to form a garland, not using more than 12 per garland. This step is traditional but can be replaced by using toothpicks to roll each peel into a coil. You can also leave them as is.
3. Cover the coiled peels with the sugar (and about one cup of water) and set aside overnight or until the sugar dissolves. Place over gentle heat and bring to a slow simmer, letting the mixture bubble-up gently for about one hour, or until syrupy. Test the syrup by dropping on the counter. If it stays still or feels sticky to the touch, it is done. About 40 minutes after starting to cook the syrup, add the lemon juice. Wait a few minutes then remove the peels and gently slide them off the twine. Cool, and serve. Keep in sterilized jars tightly sealed in the fridge.
NOTE: I found a great link on how to sterilize your jars using the oven or the microwave, if interested.
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