The history of the Jews of Europe and history has always been intertwined. One of the ritual aspects of the holiday of sukkot involves a blessing said while holding an etrog (citrons) as the Jews cultivated the etrog for ritual purposes they also cultivated other species of cotton alongside. Along the
Mediterranean coast the centres of medical citrus cultivation directly coincided with the centers of the Jewish population.
The Sephardim were amongst the earliest distributors and wholesalers of citrus. By the 19th century Ashkenazim were peddling oranges in many parts of Europe.
Jewish Family names like Citron and Pomerantz – meaning bitter orange in Yiddish, attest to these professions.
The spread of citrus across Europe is a testament to Jewish perseverance and pragmatism, while at the same time moving Europe towards progress and a global economy.
Yet oranges were considered an expensive and rare treat, a gift given to children on Chanukah. And every part of the orange was precious, thus emerged the candied peel of the orange, boiled in sugar and preserved in the syrup, or tossed in sugar and dried, the candy would have come out as an after diner treat.
Pomeratz – Candied Orange Peel
- 115 g Orange peel, cut into thin strips, most of the white pith removed (from three small oranges)
- 180 ml water
- 55 ml light corn syrup (or golden syrup)
- 225 g (plus extra for coating) granulated sugar
Place the orange peels in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil, drain.
Repeat this process 3 times, using fresh cold water each time, to remove some of the bitterness from the peel. Drain the peels and set aside.
Combine the water, corn syrup and sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce to a very low simmer, add the peels and poach until translucent, about an hour.
Drain the peels well, and toss them in sugar while still wet, coat the peels entirely in sugar, separate the peels and spread on a wire rack to dry and crystallize overnight. Store in an air tight container.