Candied Peel and almonds

Art and I were looking for some small treats he could make for upcoming events.  I came across a recipe for candied peel in some online translations by Janet Hinson of Le Menagier de Paris, a French medieval housekeeping book (written austensibly for a young woman as a practical guide to running a good household in 1393)

I can remember my mother making candied peel when I was a child living in Dublin, it was to a recipe she found in a very old cookery book, there was no honey in it, just sugar, and it went on for aaaages, and I have vague memories of it being put in the hotpress for a while…  The resulting peel was delicious but, alas, my mother declared it too time consuming to be made again.  I remember it as having a sort of hard toffee fudge layer, and am now determined to try it myself. 

“To Make Candied Orange Peel, divide the peel of one orange into five quarters and scrape with a knife to remove the white part inside, then put them to soak in good sweet water for nine days, and change the water every day; then cook them in good water just till boiling, and when this happens, spread them on a cloth and let them get thoroughly dry, then put them in a pot with enough honey to cover them, and boil on a low fire and skim, and when you believe the honey is cooked, (to test if it is cooked, have some water in a bowl, and let drip into this one drop of the honey, and if it spreads, it is not cooked; and if the drop of honey holds together in the water without spreading out, it is cooked;) and then you must remove your orange peel, and make one layer with it, and sprinkle with ginger powder, then another layer, and sprinkle etc., and so on; and leave it a month or more, then eat.”

I’ve also come across this recipe for candied almonds, which intrigues me.

Take new almonds, and with a knife carefully remove the outer skin, then poke a hole in the middle of each almond. When this is done, put the almonds in sweet water and leave them for five or six days, but change the water every day. Then, after five or six days take the almonds out of the water and place (on a cloth?), and leave them there for a whole day to drain and dry. Then have enough excellent honey for these almonds; make it boil and cook it well and sufficiently, and skim it. And when it is cooked and cooled, put a clove in the hole of each almond, place the almonds in a good clay pot, add (item, it may be done with preserved nuts, but they must stay in water nine days and the water must be changed every day;) enough of the cooked honey to cover the almonds completely and they can be eaten after two months.

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