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About The Author


Susan Axelrod

Susan Axelrod's food writing career began in the kitchen; she owned a restaurant and catering business for 15 years before turning to journalism. By day, she is the social media editor for Portland Press Herald. To relax, she bakes, gardens and hikes with her husband and their two dogs, preferably followed by a cocktail or a Maine beer. Susan can be contacted at 791-6310 or On Twitter: @susansaxelrod

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Posted: November 17, 2013

Last-minute (and delicious) holiday gift: Candied grapefruit peel

Written by: Susan Axelrod

Photo by Ted Axelrod/Axelrod Photography

This is one of my favorite kitchen gifts to make because it is easy and different. It’s also green and cheap — you’re making delicious candy out of something that would normally go in the garbage or compost pile.

If you were thinking ahead, you could save empty grapefruit halves in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to a month (since you are going to boil them three times, you could ask your grapefruit-eating friends and family to help — other people’s germs will be boiled away). But since you’re working at the last minute, you’ll want to hit the grocery store for some fresh grapefruit. Use the peels in the recipe and spend the rest of December eating grapefruit salad.

I like to pack the peel in clear, food grade cellophane bags, which you can find at party stores. If you get really ambitious, this recipe is easily doubled.

3 cups packed grapefruit peel, any remaining fruit and white pith removed, cut into strips about 1/4-inch wide
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cups water
Superfine sugar

Place the peel in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan; add cold water just to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 12 minutes. Drain, dumping the peel into a strainer. Place the peel back into the pan, cover it again with cold water and repeat this process twice more, for a total of three times. Leave the peel in the strainer after the final draining.

In the same saucepan, combine the granulated sugar and water in the saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add the peel and turn the heat up to medium high; bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally and gently, until all the syrup has been absorbed and the peel is translucent. Watch it carefully toward the end so it doesn’t burn (I’ve done it and it’s heartbreaking.)

Using a slotted spoon, lift the peel from the pan and place on wax paper, separating the pieces and spreading them in a single layer. As soon as they are cool enough to handle (2 to 3 minutes) roll in the superfine sugar until they are completely coated. Let dry, uncovered, for at least 2 hours before storing in an airtight container.

Adapted from “A Yankee Christmas” by Sally Ryder Brady

More last-minute DIY gift ideas

Unless you have a bevy of elves at your disposal who can spring to your assistance like some Kris Kringle flash mob, you’ve got some work to do. And fast. It’s time to pull off some last-minute holiday heroics, and we have some ideas.
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