Candied Mandarins

{Two Ingredient Tuesday}

Aren’t they just a gallon of sunshine in a one-pint jar?

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The Lord in his kindness granted us citrus fruits during the grey and unloved month of February. Just when we can’t stomach one more casserole, one more out-of-season New Years’ Resolution salad, the markets blossom with blood oranges, grapefruit, lemons, Valencia oranges, and mandarins. It’s all the sunshine that we summer-starved New Yorkers have been craving.

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Citrus fruits already pack a wallop of flavour. Candying them brings the distinct flavours of the juice, zest, and pulp together into one happy package, and the sugar tempers the high acid content.

I sliced my mandarins thinly, to use them as a garnish on a cake. More on that later in the week.

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If your slices look limp or watery, your sugar syrup is too weak. Recipes run the gamut on sugar-water ratios, but most agree that you can’t go below a 2:1 sugar-water ratio. Simple syrup (1:1 sugar and water) leaches out too much of the fruit’s sweetness and has too little sugar to stabilise the cooked fruit. If you don’t have pounds of sugar to spare, cook your fruit in small batches to stretch the syrup further.

I don’t like a tooth-achingly sweet slice, so I start with 1 cup of sugar per pound of fruit and half the quantity of water. It’s an easy ratio to remember. You can dial the sweetness up or down depending on your preference and the sweetness of your fruit.

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Here’s to an early touch of summer!

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Recipe Notes: Go wild! Almost any citrus fruit works. Blood oranges are particularly stunning, as are Valencia oranges. Tiny, jewel-like kumquats are a popular choice for candying: simmer them whole, or slice them according to your preference. Grapefruits are less stellar candidates for candying, due to their thick and bitter pith. Whichever fruit you choose, don’t forget to wash your fruit well to remove pesticides and chemicals from the peel. Scale up the quantity of syrup up as needed. If you have 5 lbs. of oranges, for instance, use a bigger pot and more syrup.

Variations: Slice your citrus more thickly and dip the candied pieces into melted chocolate. You can also cut the peel of an orange into ½-inch slices, cook them according to the above recipe, then toss with granulated sugar for old-fashioned orange peel candy.

Two-Ingredient Tuesday Rules: I place no limitations on the complexity of the recipe itself, but the entire dish from start to finish must contain two ingredients. However, there are four freebies that don’t count as ingredients: water, oil, salt, and pepper. I don’t count these because they act as integral seasonings and vehicles for common cooking methods, rather than acting as ingredients, and besides, everyone has them in their kitchen.

Candied Mandarin Slices

Makes 4 servings

Mandarins or other citrus fruit
Granulated sugar (1 cup per pound of fruit)

  1. In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir together sugar and water in a 2:1 ratio over medium heat until dissolved. Raise to high heat and bring to the boil.
  2. Slice mandarins into ¼ inch discs and add to the syrup. Reduce heat to medium and simmer about 15 minutes, until mandarins soften and begin to turn translucent.
  3. If desired, sterilise glass jars and fill with mandarins and their cooking syrup. Otherwise, drain mandarins and lay each slice on foil or wax paper to cool.

Recipe adapted from SAVEUR magazine.



  1. Pingback: Tarte Parisienne au Chocolat | Thursday Tea

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