Angelica is a herb that has been used for centuries. The stems and seeds are used in confectionery and the making of liqueurs. It’s candied form was once a quite popular treat and tastes a bit like licorice. It was often used to decorate cakes. Lynda Broadbent had some at her Herb presentation on Angelica in September 2012.
Many old recipes specify that angelica should be cut in April for candying. Early May should be fine, too, provided the stems are still green, not purplish (although you shouldn’t wait until the plant blooms, which according to European tradition happens on May 8, the feast day of St. Michael the Archangel). Use only thick stems, and cut away the leaves and leaf stems.
To Candy Angelica
- Bring the sugar and water to a boil, stirring. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the angelica stems. Over medium-high heat, cook the stems for 4 to 6 minutes, until they are tender when pierced with a fork. Drain the stems, rinse them in cold water, and drain them again. Peel off the thin skin. A vegetable peeler may help, but most of the skin should rub off easily with your fingers. Put the stems into a bowl, pour the syrup over them and weight them down with a small plate.
- The next day, drain off the syrup into a saucepan. Boil it until it has thickened a bit (to about 225°), and pour it over the angelica. Repeat this process the next day, and again the day after (3 days total). At this point the stems should appear partially translucent.
- On the following day, pour off the syrup again, and boil it to the thread stage (230°). Add the angelica stems, and bring the syrup back to the thread stage. Drain the stems in a colander, and then place them on a rack or screen in a warm place until they are dry to the touch (a food dryer or a convection oven set on very low heat will speed the drying). Dust the dried stems with superfine sugar, and store them in an airtight container. It will keep for up to 2 years in the right storage conditions.