Despite being quite an accomplished cook, there are many dishes I have not I cooked and techniques I haven’t mastered. Sometimes it’s because the dish requires a degree of precision I’m not prepared to labour over but more often than not, it’s a time constraint. Really though, who has the time to candy fruit? No one. Glacé or candied fruit is a slow, labour intensive, hand made process. It’s a mug’s game, which is why the last remaining company that made glacé fruit commercially in Australia ceased manufacturing it in 2010. They just couldn’t compete with the cheap imports. Yes, they may be cheap but they are nowhere near as good as the Barossa produced version was. Which is why you need to make your own.
Glacé, Candy Or Confit?
Glacé, candied or confit fruit dates back to the Roman era where fruit was preserved with honey to allow it to be eaten throughout the year. As sugar became readily available, it replaced honey in the preservation method. From the complex confections of the Tudor Court through to Queen Victoria’s Christmas celebrations, glacé fruit has always been part of the festive table. Several towns in Provence in the southeast of France are famed for their confit fruit production. The town of Apt in particular has been turning its beautiful orchards into syrupy delights since the Middle Ages, gifting Pope Urban V candied fruit in 1365. Families in Provence still gather to eat 13 desserts symbolising Christ and his 12 Apostles, many of the 13 desserts being confit fruits.
I’ll tell you up front that this is a cheat’s technique. It’s not a traditional method of boiling and re-boiling the syrup and fruits over a number of days or weeks. But, it is very, very easy and the results are excellent. By slicing the fruit rather than leaving it whole, you are able to produce glacé orange slices within a couple of hours. Certainly an appealing item on the breakfast table or as a gift. My favourite use is a slice or two on top of bircher muesli or chopped through a semifreddo.
Once again, the blood oranges sent to me by Redbelly Citrus have inspired me. I love the way the fruit becomes translucent, almost glowing and the dark slices are particularly impressive. The astringent skin and pith cuts through some of the sweetness. I have adapted two sources to develop this recipe: Maggie’s Harvest from Maggie Beer and Amy Schauer’s Fruit Preserving Book (out of print). Amy spent much of her time teaching cookery at the Brisbane Technical College and doing various cooking demonstrations in the late 1890’s early 1900’s. She was one of the original Domestic Goddesses. More about Amy here.
Whilst there is no local commercial source for traditional glacé fruit, Buderim glacé ginger is still Australian grown and manufactured. Go and buy a packet in your next grocery shop, to support them.
Glacé Confit Blood Oranges
- 3 – 4 blood oranges
- 600g caster sugar
- 750ml water
- Scrub oranges in warm water so that any wax or dust is removed from the skin and then slices oranges into thin rounds (approx 2 – 3 mm thick).
- Place sugar and water in a medium saucepan and put on a low heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Once dissolved, increase the heat to a medium simmer and cook for 10 – 15 minutes until the liquid reduces and becomes a syrup.
- Lay the slices of orange in a large baking dish and gently pour the sugar syrup over the fruit. Place a piece of baking paper the same size as the dish on top of the fruit and gently press down (this is known as a cartouche).
- Cover dish will foil and seal well. Place in a moderate oven of 150c and bake for approximately 1 hour. Remove foil and cartouche from the oranges and place dish back in the oven for another 45 minutes – to 1 hour to allow syrup to reduce.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool before placing in sterilised jars (tips at the bottom).
- When I cooked this, the syrup needed further thickening, so I removed the slices from the syrup and placed them in the jars and further reduced the syrup in the oven for another 30 minutes.
- Store in the fridge, once opened.
This is fast and easy so don’t skip it, just do it! Wash glass containers and implements in hot, soapy water and rinse. Submerge in a pot of warm water, bring to the boil for 5 minutes and turn off. Place containers on a tea towel lined tray in a warm oven (120c) to dry off. Remove from oven, place on a tea towel on the bench and allow to cool. Lids can be washed in soapy water and then scalded with boiling water and let them dry. Don’t put them in the oven if they have plastic or vinyl on the insides.
It’s also possible to sterilise jars and bottles by running them through the hottest dishwasher and drying cycle. Or, wash in hot soapy water, rinse and then place damp jars in the microwave and heat for 1 minute.