It was Mother’s Day here last Sunday.

As both my grandmothers died last year, it was the first Mother’s Day for both of my parents without their own mothers. This year, I was more aware than ever that Mother’s Day, and similar holidays, can be such a bittersweet occasion.

We have always used Mother’s Day as an excuse to get the family together for a riotous lunch and plenty of champagne; this year, a much smaller group of us raised a glass to absent mothers.

I like to think that my mother knows how much I appreciate her. But I fear that in between our email exchanges where I snappishly try to explain how to paginate documents in Word and the reminder texts that I get about whether I’ve written my thank you letters from Christmas, it probably gets lost.

I know that, in theory, I shouldn’t just set aside the fourth sunday of Lent (as it is) for letting her know how much she means to me. I may not want to let her know every day because, frankly, that would be a bit weird  and I’m pretty she has better things to be doing with her time, even if I don’t. But still, if the last year has taught me anything, it’s taught me that I have to make more of an effort because I don’t want to wake up one morning and realise that it’s too late.

Saying all of that that, I knew that she would appreciate a little package of some of her favourite things (namely caviar and champagne) to mark the occasion. I also slipped in a little bag of homemade grapefruit zest; something that I know she is very partial to. It is such an easy thing to make and, as it will last a month or so in the fridge, is a perfect gift.


Candied grapefruit zest

Yield: About 1/2 a cup

I’ve done this with orange before but I was a little worried that the grapefruit would be too bitter, hence blanching it four times. I needn’t have been concerned though and I probably could have got away with one less blanche – there’s plenty of sugar to balance out the bitterness. For a slightly more sophisticated treat, you can dip the candied zest in chocolate rather than rolling it in sugar. 

  • 1 grapefruit (I used a ruby red grapefruit)
  • 225g (1 cup) granulated/caster sugar plus a little more for rolling the zest
  • Several cups of cold water

Peel the skin of the grapefruit – I used the little funny poking out bit of my zester but you can just chop it by hand. You don’t want too much of the pith but I little isn’t the end of the world.
Place the peel in a small saucepan, cover with cold water, bring to the boil over a medium heat and then drain and return to the pan. Repeat two or three times depending on how sweet your grapefruit is.
When the grapefruit has been blanched sufficiently, dissolve the sugar in the pan with a cup of water. Bring it to the boil and allow it to simmer for a few minutes until syrupy.
Add the zest to the pan and cook at a simmer for about 30 minutes until almost translucent. You can swirl the pan but try not to stir.
When cooked, remove from the liquid, pat dry and then, if desired, roll in a little extra sugar. Leave to dry for a couple of hours before serving.

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22 Responses to "candied grapefruit zest"
  1. I have to remember we have different dates for holidays. I got scared for a moment that I had forgotten! Candied zest is one of my favorite sweet treats and I love giving it as a homemade gift.

  2. sophiareal says:

    I had the same fear for a moment – mother’s day in Germany is celebrated much later in the year.
    This post is beautiful – I love these little gestures to show someone how much you love them, the fact you remember her favourite things and set out to make her favourite sweet from scratch – if that isn’t true love then I don’t know what is.
    It’s funny, the older I get it’s not that I appreciate my mother more (heck, with 4 children I learned early enough that my mum was a true superstar), but I am much more concerned about showing her how much she means to me (same for my dad really) – cue me coming home for long weekends with a suitcase full of things I think she (or my dad) would like – magazines, her favourite marrons glaces, a bag of stone-ground polenta from a trip to Northern Italy and other random ingredients (she is an amazing cook and bread baker) and baking her favourite carrot cake for her birthday (when I had been planning to bake something else entirely since about Christmas).

  3. Christina says:

    These are my favorite dessert ever. Seriously. No chocolate cake, no ice cream. All I want is candied grapefruit. Would you believe I’ve never made them! I’m pinning this and making it soon!

  4. Dana Shultz says:

    GORGeous, just gorgeous! Love it!

  5. Beautiful photos Kathryn! I made my mum a loaf of bread for mothers day – sounds a bit odd, but she doesn’t have a sweet tooth. If she did I’d definitely have made her some of this as it looks gorgeous.

  6. Shanna says:

    I love these sentiments, Kathryn. So beautiful.

  7. so pretty and such a lovely idea to use grapefruit zest… lovely post about family too x

  8. Mal says:

    My grandfather makes candied citrus peel and I can never get enough of it, so yummy!

    Mal @ The Chic Geek

  9. Antonia @ Health Inspirations says:

    This is such a beautiful post and it made me think about my mom. My mom really is one of my best friends, we talk almost every single day and email daily. But I will call her now, just before we are both off to bed to tell her how much I love her!

  10. e / dig in hobart says:

    what a beautiful post. i think as we get older we cherish our parents more. we shoudn’t take them for granted! this candied peel looks delicious, though i cant help but thinking it needs a little dippign in dark chocolate :-)

  11. Great reminder for everyone to cherish our loved ones, now. I want to make these for my mom too :)

  12. Megan Keno says:

    My mom is equally obsessed with candied peels. I’ve always wanted to try these – perfect inspiration, I’m sure your mom was pleased when these arrived.

  13. It’s not Mother’s day here until May, but what a gorgeous treat. I know my mum would love this too. As my Mum lives so far away I don’t bake anything for her for Mother’s day, but this seems like a great option that will survive well in the post :)

  14. leaf says:

    This is such a lovely way to show your appreciation for your mum. They’re gorgeous and clearly made with love. x

  15. These are so lovely, Kathryn, and what a nice sentiment they embody. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Ashley says:

    Such a sweet post, Kathryn! And I LOVE candied grapefruit zest – yumm!

  17. Erin says:

    Oh yes. What sweet words.

  18. Candy says:

    My mother died ten months ago and the sense of loss is indescribable. It is a very special bond, mother and daughter, whatever the nature of your relationship. The one person who gives you unconditional love – no longer there. Don’t beat yourself up, but value what you have, while you have it.

  19. Losing my dad last year has definitely made me realize how important it is to take the time to tell my mom I love her every day and to try to see her once a week. All the other things that I thought I was so busy with don’t really matter that much. Love this post. :)

    And the grapefruit zest. The perfect mix of sweet and bitter.

  20. Laura says:

    What a lovely recipe. Candied fruit is so tasty :)


  21. This recipe is really yummy! I used orange peels and planned to use them to decorate a cheesecake; I had to stop myself from eating them all. I followed the directions exactly, and the orange peels were very sweet, not bitter at all.

  22. Using this recipe to make a fun little nest on top of grapefruit curd filled cupcakes for tomorrow’s Good Friday brunch.

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