One of my early recipe posts was for orange infused sugar. I was making candied orange peel and I was left with about two cups of orange infused sugar. I found that this orange sugar was very good for giving recipes a sweet citrus flavor. A jar of this sugar now sits on my counter—next to the salt and pepper—ready to add as needed.
While this is an incredibly simple recipe—just orange zest and sugar—I have changed how I make it over the last five years. Originally, I used only the zest of one navel orange. Today, I use two or even three oranges. This change leads to its own problems—as the increased moisture tends to cause the sugar to clump into a solid mass.
Karl’s Orange Infused Sugar, Updated
2-3 large navel orange
1 cup white granulated sugar
1. Zest the oranges completely.
Tip: You may actually use any citrus fruit you like.
Note: This process leaves you with several “naked” oranges to use in some other way. Fortunately for me, I have a daughter that will solve this problem for me. I have also segmented them for adding to salads.
2. Put the zest and sugar into a small open bowl and use a spatula to thoroughly mix the zest into the sugar.
Note: Once you zest an orange the complex compounds that make the peel bitter start to break down into smaller compounds that humans find flavorful.
3. Let the sugar in the bowl sit—open—on the counter for 1-2 weeks.
Tip: Once or twice a day chop and mix the sugar with the spatula.
Note: You do not want the sugar to turn into a solid, unbreakable block.
4 . When the sugar has dried out completely, put it in a standing blender and process it into a powder.
Tip: The blender leaves you with very finely pulverized sugar and zest. If you want a courser grain of sugar and you have a large mortar and pestle you may do this by hand.
Note: The point here is to not have large solid bits of sugar that will not dissolve in your baked goods—unless of course that is your goal. This happened in one of my early beer breads, the lumps of sugar did not dissolve and left my bread with crunchy bits of sugar throughout the loaf.
5. Put the sugar in an air tight jar
Note: Shake the jar about once a day to keep the sugar loose and separated. It will them be ready for any recipe that needs a quick boost of sweet orange flavor.