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Got Limes?

I go through a lot of limes in the summer. I love lime squeezed over my honeydew and cantaloupe. I love limes in all my drinks. I like lime marinades, and I use them in guac, pico, and my corn black bean salad. If you use a lot of limes, don’t put those lime rinds into the compost! Make some candied lime peel!

Making candied citrus peel is probably easier than you think! Also, you can use orange, lemon, and even grapefruit. My son when he was younger and I love candied grapefruit peel the best. But this is about limes, and summertime is the best time for you to make yourself a supply of candied lime peel!

You can wash and use the peel from lime sections that have been squeezed over fruit or a beverage, just make sure you keep them safe from contamination and refrigerate them until you are ready – no more than a day, though.

There are a lot of variations you’ll see for making candied citrus peel. My recipe covers all the bases, and is simple enough to remember. It has never failed me, no matter what peel I used. A recipe format is below, but here’s the description:

Prepare the peel: Make sure you get all the lime pulp off the peel. If you want to remove more of the white pith you can. I use a finely serrated grapefruit spoon to scrape. Sometimes I pretend I’m removing the skin off a fish fillet: with the peel that I want to keep pressed against the cutting board, I slice with my sharp thin paring knife along under the pith. However, lime rinds are already so thin that it doesn’t matter a whole lot of you don’t put much time into this step. Cut into narrow strips, 1/8” or less; I go for 1/16th inch.

Boiling: After you cut the peel into strips, you are going to boil it three times in fresh water. Then you are going to simmer it in sugar water for while.

Finishing: lay out the sugar-saturated peel to dry for a day, then toss it in sugar if you wish, and nibble or garnish to your heart’s content! Don’t hesitate to nibble on the dried sugar drips left behind!

Tip: after removing lime peel from syrup, cool the syrup down, then refrigerate it for use in beverages or baked goods. Occasionally it will be too bitter, but most of the time it is YUM.


  1. Scrub limes. Remove all pulp. Scrape as much white pith off as you wish – at least remove the fluffier pith from the surface.
  2. Cut lime peel into desired finished shape; 1/8” strips or less (as it gets wider you start to notice a leatheriness to the finished lime peel.)
  3. In a small (1 qt) non-aluminum saucepan, cover the peel with water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 5-10 minutes. Drain but leave in pan.
  4. Repeat. Repeat again for a total of 3 plain water boilings.
  5. While this is taking place, set a rack over a baking sheet to catch the drips from the finished peel  as it dries. If you don’t have a rack with narrow enough spacing, you can set the peel directly on parchment paper to dry.
  6. Safety reminder: Boiling sugar can cause dangerous burns! Keep pets and children out of the kitchen and be careful!!!
  7. Add 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water to the drained peel in the pan. (use 2 c. each if you are having to use a larger pan.) Stir and slowly bring to a boil again. Set your burner to maintain a constant but slow boil. Check every 3-5 minutes – watch for the bubbles to start changing from watery, small, quick-popping bubbles to larger, shiny, longer lasting bubbles – syrupy bubbles. If this happens before the 20 minute point, quickly remove from heat, add a couple tablespoons of hot water, and return to heat. Once 20 minutes have passed AND your bubbles have gotten to that syrupy stage, do not leave the peel unattended as you can quickly end up with a block of lime peel hard candy.
  8. Let the mixture boil until the syrupy bubbles just begin to build on top of each other: until the bubble layer just begins to grow in height. At that point, remove it from heat immediately. (So, what if you go too long or too short here? Too short: sticky peel. Too long: brittle peel, possibly an off taste.)
  9. Use a fork to remove peel from the pan and onto the rack; separate them on the rack or they will sugar-glue themselves together!
  10. Let dry for overnight to 2 days – they will have a fairly hard glaze over them, but still be somewhat pliable and only slightly sticky. If they break easily don’t worry – they’re still going to be awesome.
  11. You can leave them as is or toss them with superfine granulated sugar (not confectioners, but “caster” sugar or “beverage” sugar.)

In the photo below, the unsugared peel is in the lower right…  The peel tossed in caster sugar is at the left (so sparkly!)… The peel tossed in some ordinary white granulated sugar that I ran through my blender is at the upper right — it’s not that attractive because of the powdery bits, but it’s the best for storing without sticking together.

I like to garnish key lime pies with candied lime peel, or chop some into a sour cream based fruit dip. Chop and put into/onto cookies or frosting, dip in white chocolate… you can use these strips either chopped or blenderized in addition to lime zest in anything that calls for zest.

I gave most of this batch away… now I wonder where I hid the rest? Hmm…


  • Kathy - This looks amazing! I love all citrus so I will need to try your recipe.08.09.2012 – 4:47amReplyCancel

    • admin - Kathy, I’ll bet you could incorporate candied citrus peel into your fantastic bento boxes!
      Gail08.09.2012 – 12:53pmReplyCancel

  • Kathy - That is a great idea. I think it would be especially fitting for a bento for my husband. He has wanted a bento but I have not made one for him yet. The nieces and nephews always seem to come first.08.13.2012 – 6:19amReplyCancel

  • Diane Feldman - Hi Gail & Sam,

    I love the rss feed but it comes through on Michael’s email. Any chance I can get it to be transferred over to my email. If not, I’ll take your emails and posts by email so I can get to them without having Michael as middleman. Thanks, Diane08.21.2012 – 5:31pmReplyCancel

    • admin - Diane, hello! We’ll see what we can do about that. Glad to have you following us!
      Gail08.21.2012 – 7:34pmReplyCancel

  • Diane Feldman - I think it is fixed Gail. Great website and yummy recipes. Thanks08.21.2012 – 7:43pmReplyCancel

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