The Opportunity: Peels left over from a breakfast grapefruit (pictured) and several lemons from a cocktail party featuring Aviations (gin, lemon juice, maraschino and creme de violette liqueuers).
The Solution: Candied peel.
One of the key insights I had recently about preserving is that pickling, jam-making, and even candying do not have to be major large-batch projects. Indeed, they are often better as small-batch events that use up little tidbits. Inspired by this challenge, I decided to try the small-batch microwave method for making candied peel; this method has been posted on egullet. Simply, you strip and slice the peel, then extract the bitter compounds by microwaving it for 10 minutes in excess water in a 2-quart measuring cup. This extraction is repeated a total of three times. My peel was still a bit bitter, so I might add another round of extraction. Then you make a syrup of 1c sugar and 1.5c water. The peel is microwaved in the syrup for 3 rounds of 5 minutes, then sits for 30 minutes, then microwaved again for 3x 5 minutes. Then you let it dry on a rack and sugar it up.
Once I finish the lemon peels, I am going to make a sweet holiday bread with candied peel and brandied prunes. Then I will accumulate peel for my annual fruitcake fest in November-- based on my tasting, the homemade stuff is much better than the purchased stuff.