Candied citrus peel for Christmas giving

Candied citrus peel can be made at your leisure and stored indefinitely in the freezer. It makes a lovely gift to give to friends at Christmas time, or to serve to guests after dinner.

When cooking the peel in the sugar syrup, watch it carefully during the last stages of cooking and keep the heat low, in order not to scorch the syrup. Do not cook more than one batch at a time.

The following recipe is from Mimi Sheraton's ''Visions of Sugarplums'' (Harper & Row, $14.50). Candied Fruit Peel 4 large grapefruit, or 6 navel oranges 3 1/4 cups sugar, approximately

Select ripe fruit with skins as near perfect as possible. Cut grapefruit or oranges in half and scrape out furit pulp and membranes.

Be sure that all membranes are removed but leave white underksin on peel. Cut peel into long strips 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide. Blanch in boiling water 5 minutes. Drain and repeat blanching 3 times, using fresh boiling water each time.

Cook 2 1/2 cups sugar in 1 1/4 cups boiling water until a light syrup forms, about 20 minutes. Add peels and stir.

Simmer gently, partly covered about 40 minutes, or until peels have absorbed liquid and are tender. Place in single layer on sheet of waxed paper.

Cool slightly and dredge with remaining sugar. Let dry in warm room overnight. Store in airtight containers.

Serve as candy or use in recipes. Makes about 1 1/2 pounds.

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