To candy vegetables or fruit, you’re simply removing the water and replacing it with sugar. There are a few ways to do this, here is a simple method. There is an initial cooking process to break down the cell walls and release the water. Then it’s a case of dehydrating things to remove water. This will turn the slices into something fragile and beautiful. Courgettes and squashes can be manipulated in this fashion also. The objective is not to caramelise the sugars, so if you’re wary of your oven being too hot, play it safe and first try this on a lower temperature, it’ll just mean you have to bake them for longer.
Photo Credit: Sam A Harris
Firstly, slice the chosen crop as thinly as possible, about 1mm. Use your samurai skills with a knife or use a mandolin. Dip each slice in sugar to coat both sides and place on a tray lined with baking paper, add another layer of baking paper on top and another tray to weigh it all down. Bake between the two sheets for 25 to 30 min at around 90C. Remove from the oven and uncover the goods by carefully peeling back the top layer of baking paper. Dry any excess moisture with some paper towel (beetroot juice will make a bid for freedom and make everything pink), then return to the oven, uncovered and bake for 1 to 2 hours at about 80C.
When your slices emerge from the oven, they will be a little soft and flexible, leave to cool and dry out a little more to gain some snap. They will remain in this form for about 3 days, but will begin to soften up, so just pop them back in a low oven for a few minutes to crisp up.
These are great for decorating cakes or even as a garnish for a festive cocktail.