Candied lemon peel (also known as succade) is made from the peel of citron (Citrus medica). Citron is a lemon-like citrus fruit that is green or yellow, depending on the time of harvest.
Culinary uses — candied lemon peel:
Candied lemon peel has a sweet and sour, slightly bitter flavor and is ideal to flavor sweet dishes and baked goods.1 It is hard to imagine popular baked Christmas goods such as stollen, gingerbread, or fruit bread without candied lemon peel. Candied lemon peel can also be eaten as a topping on soy yogurt, pudding, fruit salad, or in muesli (however it is not necessary: Erb Muesli does not contain any added sugar). Candied lemon peel can also be sliced into fine strips and added to desserts as a finishing touch. It is furthermore used as a filling in pralines and other sweets.
In Middle Eastern cuisine, candied lemon peel is eaten in savory dishes, for example, with rice, fish, and meat.
Candied lemon peel tastes a little sour; however, you should not underestimate how much sugar it contains. As a general rule, candied fruits contain large amounts of sugar (over 65 %).
If you have large pieces of candied lemon peel, you can freeze them in a bag and then crush them to avoid sticking. To avoid sticking when chopping, sprinkle a layer of flour on the surface that you are cutting on (provided that this works with your recipe).
What can you use as a substitute for candied lemon peel? You may not want to eat prepackaged products, you may not have any lemon peel at home, or perhaps you simply do not like candied citrus fruits. You can substitute candied lemon peel with other dried fruit such as dates, dried figs, or candied ginger (has a strong flavor of its own!). These options will give your dish a nice aroma and sweetness without such an intense hit of fructose. If you still want to include a little lemon, zest some organic peel over your dish.
If the candied lemon peel turns hard after baking, it is possible that the lemon peel was already too old or that the package was left open too long. It is best to make your own candied lemon peel.
In Italy, citrus carpaccio is made from fresh lemons. The lemons are thinly sliced and served with salt, pepper, and olive oil.
Vegan recipe for Lemon Biscuits:
Ingredients: 60 g white almond butter, 2 tablespoons oil (e.g., canola oil), 2 tablespoons almond milk, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 40 g sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder (or even better: weinstein baking powder), 130 g flour, 50 g candied lemon peel.
Preparation: Whisk all wet ingredients. Stir in the sugar and baking powder. Add the flour and knead with a dough hook (attached to a mixer or dough blades on a food processor) to create dough. Place small heaps of dough on a baking sheet with a teaspoon and press the candied lemon peel into each cookie. Bake the cookies at 200 °C for about 15 minutes.
Vegan recipes containing candied lemon peel can be found under the header: “Recipes that contain the largest amounts of this ingredient” (at the very bottom or on the side of the screen).
Purchasing — where to buy candied lemon peel?
You can find candied lemon peel at supermarkets such as Walmart, Whole Foods Markets, Kroger, and Safeway (United States); Extra Foods, Metro, and Freshmart (Canada); Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Aldi, and Lidl (Great Britain); and Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, and Harris Farm (Australia).
We recommend buying organic citron lemons and organic lemon peel. Organic candied lemon peel may be available at organic supermarkets and health food stores. You may also be able to find candied lemon peel at bakeries and in the baked goods section of supermarkets around Christmas time. Or you can order candied lemon peel on the Internet, both crushed and whole. Large pieces of candied lemon peel (usually from half a lemon) usually have a much more intense flavor.
Making your own candied lemon peel:
How do you make candied lemon peel? Making your own candied lemon peel may be a bit time-consuming, but it is always worth it. You need organic, untreated lemon or citron peel, sugar or honey (preferably organic), and an airtight container. Citrons contain significantly more pith than standard lemons, which is ideal as it means the yield is greater.
Typical method with sugar: Clean the lemon peel, remove any damaged areas, and cut into cubes of the desired size. Cover with water (some recommend salted water), bring to a boil, and then pour off the remaining water. Repeat this procedure about 1 or 2 times to wash out some of the bitter substances in the lemons.
Weigh the lemon peel, add sugar at a 1:1 ratio, and pour some water over the sugar and peel. Simmer on low heat for about 1 hour until the peel is translucent. Remove from the heat and let dry on a cake rack with baking paper underneath. The drying process often takes several days; however, drying the candied lemon peel in the oven at a low temperature can accelerate this process. After the lemon peel has been dried, store in a screw-top jar, and refrigerate if necessary.2
If you are looking for a sugar-free alternative that is better for your teeth, you can replace the sugar with xylitol at a 1:1 ratio.
Making candied lemon peel with honey: You can use honey or plant-based sweeteners such as agave syrup or apple juice concentrate instead of sugar. With this method, there is no need to boil the lemon peel. Clean and dice the lemon peel, then place in a container with the sweetener, cover, and leave to stand in a cool place (e.g., refrigerator or cellar) for a few days to a few weeks.2
Note: You use the same procedure with oranges or bitter oranges to make candied orange peel (Aranzini). Orange peel has an orange aroma, but otherwise the texture and ways that you can use the peel are similar.
Tip for collecting peel: If you are collecting lemon or orange peels to prepare candied peel, you can store the flesh of the fruit in a sealable container in the refrigerator until you have enough to make juice or lemonade.
Candied lemon peel is highly water-soluble, meaning that it should be stored in an airtight container in a dry place. Once opened, candied fruit hardens faster. However, candied lemon peel generally has a long shelf life thanks to its high sugar and low water content. When candied lemon peel is stored completely dried, it keeps for between 4 months and 2 years, depending on the manufacturer.
Nutrients — nutritional values — calories:
Candied lemon peel usually has a minimum sugar content of 65 %. It has a calorie content of 292 calories/100 g, which should not be underestimated. Carbohydrates make up approximately 72 % of candied lemon peel, and only 2 % of this is dietary fiber. It barely contains any fat or protein, accounting for approximately 0.4 % of candied lemon peel.
Industrially manufactured candied lemon peel often contains traces of salt and sulfurous acid (E 220, acts as a preservative). Citric acid (E 330) may also be present in candied lemon peel, depending on processing.3
At 7 mg/100 g, manganese is present in high quantities in candied lemon peel. This is similar to hemp seeds, bay leaves, and pine nuts. The recommended daily intake of manganese is 2 mg. Manganese is an essential element and plays a central role in metabolizing carbohydrates and building connective tissue in the body.
Select CLICK FOR under the photo of candied lemon peel to see the nutrient tables. These tables provide complete nutritional information, the percentage of the recommended allowance, and comparison values with other ingredients.
Dangers — intolerances — side effects:
The high amount of sugar found in candied lemon peel means that we recommend avoiding excessive consumption. Most of the sugar that candied lemon peel contains is disaccharide sucrose (>60 %). Industrially produced candied lemon peel often contains high fructose corn syrup, which is produced by the hydrolysis of starch. It contains at least 50 % glucose and up to 50 % fructose. High fructose corn syrup is mainly used in the United States. According to the German sugar reporting ordinance (Verordnung über einige zur menschlichen Ernährung bestimmte Zuckerarten), high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contains more fructose than glucose and is a strong sweetener.4
High sugar consumption is associated with a variety of diseases that can lead to serious and sometimes life-threatening problems. These include obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.5
Citrus fruits can also trigger allergies. Citrus usually causes oral allergy syndrome, which is characterized by discomfort in the mouth and throat and a tongue that feels furry. Skin reactions can take up to two days to appear. In the event of a skin reaction, request a skin or allergy test with an allergist, and clarify whether the trigger was fructose intolerance or a reaction to preservatives.
The term “untreated” means that citrus fruits have not undergone any treatment after harvesting, for example, injection, fumigation, or irradiation. It is possible that the citrus was treated before being harvested.6
Description — origin:
The ancestors of all edible citrus fruits are believed to be on the southeastern slope of the Himalayas in northeastern India, Myanmar, and the Yunnan province in China. Lemons were cultivated in this region four thousand years ago. The citron (Citrus medica) was the first fruit that was brought to Europe (in about 70 CE).7 At the time, it was mainly used as an insecticide, perfume, and for medicine.8 Today, it is primarily cultivated in Sicily, Calabria, Morocco, and Puerto Rico.
Candying lemons began as a preservation method to transport them over long distances. In Livorno, Italy, candied lemon peel has a long tradition.
Cultivation — harvest:
Citron trees grow very slowly, but can reach a height of up to 3 meters. The branches tend to branch out into bushes with many thorns. Citrons need a lot of sun to thrive, even more than standard lemons. Citron trees can also be grown in large pots outdoors in summer or in a winter garden year-round. Waterlogging is harmful for citron trees, so be sure to grow in well-drained soil or substrate. We recommend using soil specially designed for growing citrus: a mixture of peat-free and loamy-humic soil. During the warm season, lemons require regular nitrogen fertilization. Lemons respond well to pruning — prune them in spring to help your tree thrive.9
Citron trees have whitish flowers that are about 2–5 cm large with a pleasant scent. Citrons have irregular, bumpy, thick skin and can be up to 25 cm long. The largest citrons weigh up to 4 kg.
Their shape usually resembles lemons; however, it can vary depending on the variety. Buddha’s Hand citron, for example, grows in finger-like sections.
The color of the peel has nothing to do with the ripeness or acidity of the citron. Green citrons are also ripe. Naturally yellow citrons are only available in winter; it is the large fluctuations in day and night temperature that cause citrons to turn yellow (the chlorophyll shrinks and carotenoids emerge). In summer, citron fruits are green. Standard lemons do not ripen either. Commercially grown citrus fruits are intentionally exposed to large temperature fluctuations after harvesting to artificially create their color. However, this change in color does not improve the quality of the citrus.6
Citron contains thick, white pith (mesocarp) directly beneath its outer layer of yellow or green skin. The pith is divided into 10–13 segments. Citron contains little flesh, and the flesh is rarely used. It tends to taste sweet, sour, or bitter. Citron skin and pith are processed to make candied lemon peel, dried lemon peel, jam, and liqueur. The essential oil that citron contains is also used to make perfume.7
Industrially produced candied lemon peel:
The citrons are carefully sorted, washed, peeled, partly pitted, and blanched. The citron peel is candied in autoclaves, like most candied fruits. Only very easily damaged fresh fruits such as strawberries are still candied manually.
The pieces of peel are then placed in various containers with an increasing concentration of sugar. The concentration of sugar is balanced with the amount of water the pieces of citron contain at each stage so that the fruits absorb increasing amounts of sugar. The pieces of fruit retain their external shape during this process. Alternatively, you can make candied fruits using fructose instead of sugar, which is preferable for diabetics.
Finally, a glazing machine is used to give candied fruits a sugar crystal outer layer. This glaze prevents the candied fruits from sticking to one another.10
General information about candied lemon peel:
The citron (Citrus medica) is of the citrus genus in the Rutaceae family. Citrus fruits are, botanically speaking, berries; their endocarp swells to form the citrus flesh.6
Lemons (Citrus x limon) originated from a cross between bitter oranges (Citrus aurantium) and citrons (Citrus medica).
Alternative names for candied lemon peel:
The Latin name medica refers to the historical region Media (present-day Azerbaijan, Iranian Kurdistan, and western Tabaristan). Cedro, the Italian name for citron, is derived from the cedar tree because citron is has a cedar-like smell.11
Candied lemon peel is also known as succade, candied fruit, crystallized fruit, and glacé fruit.
There was a lack of citrus fruits in East Germany, so succade was produced from green tomatoes.3
In Judaism, citron is used at the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) as part of the festive bouquet and is referred to as Etrog. Buddhists also give Buddha’s hand citron in altar offerings.
In China, citrons are a symbol of health, happiness, and contentment, and is often gifted on New Year’s Day.
Literature — sources:
Many researchers do not believe that Wikipedia is an authoritative source. One reason for this is that the information about literature cited and authors is often missing or unreliable. Our pictograms for nutritional values provide also information on calories (kcal).
- Rehm S. Espig G. Die Kulturpflanzen der Tropen und Subtropen. Anbau, wirtschaftliche Bedeutung, Verwertung. Eugen Ulmer: Stuttgart. 1976.
- Smarticular. Zitrusschalen zu Zitronat und Orangeat verarbeiten statt wegwerfen.
- Wikipedia Zitronat.
- BMJV Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz. Verordnung über einige zu menschlichen Ernährung bestimmte Zuckerarten.
- Pharmawiki Saccharose.
- Pini U. Das Bio-Food Handbuch. Ullmann: Hamburg, Potsdam. 2014.
- Wikipedia Zitronatzitrone.
- Brücher H. Tropische Nutzpflanzen. Ursprung, Evolution und Domestikation. Springer: Berlin, Heidelberg, New York. 1977.
- Mein-schoener-garten.de Zitronatzitrone Cedro.
- BDSI Bundesverband der Deutschen Süsswarenindustrie e.V. Kandierte Früchte.
- Genaust H. Etymologisches Wörterbuch der botanischen Pflanzennamen. 3. Auflage. Birkhäuser: Basel, Boston, Berlin. 1996