Early this spring, on a whim I planted a tiny wee pot of angelica that was going cheap in the garden centre with the intention of making candied angelica come the summer. I’ve never eaten candied angelica, but there was romance in the idea of making something so old-fashioned. Anyway, true to form I forgot to harvest it during the summer months (when the stalks are tender and most suitable for candying) and so, come late Autumn, I find I am left with a 6 foot high triffid that has to be hacked down with a machete before it engulfs the entire flower bed.
A Google rummage would suggest that older stems are too tough to candy, but I plough on regardless and it seems to work fine. I read a few recipes online, but they all seem a bit quick (boil stalks, boil sugar, mix and dry in oven) and having seen how long even the humble orange peel takes to candy, I wasn’t convinced. However, I did find one recipe based on instructions in Larousse Gastronomique so I’ve vaguely followed this one on account of its pedigree. And frankly, any recipe with the phrase, “on the fourth day…” gets my vote. You can read the full Larousse-inspired recipe here. I bastardised the recipe further, so here’s what I did:
In a high sided saucepan, mix the 2 glasses of sugar with the 2 glasses of water and stir ‘til dissolved. Add the peeled angelica and leave for 24 hours.
Remove the angelica, boil the syrup to 108 degrees celsius, then return the angelica to the pan, take the pan off the heat and leave it for approx 12 hours.
Repeat this 2 more times.
On the fourth day (!), remove the stalks, boil the syrup to 118 degrees celsius, then return the angelica to the pan. Leave it on the heat this time and let it bubble away for around 15 minutes. Fish out the angelica with tongs and dry them out on racks.
Once largely dry (about 4-5 hours), coat them with caster sugar and pop them on a baking tray in a cool oven (75 degrees) for 45 minutes to dry out some more. Put them in jars, marvel at their loveliness and get all smug about how Country Living you’ll feel when you give them out as pressies at Christmas.