Candied orange agony: “I continue to control the hell out of the variables”

AnnFinkbeinerAnn Finkbeiner writes about the tricky chemistry and physics of candied orange peel made according to the recipe of a Hungarian physicist’s grandmother. Here’s a passage from the middle of the lament:

…The recipe no longer works. I continue to control the hell out of the variables. I use the same amount of orange peel, two-oranges-worth, every time. I use the same 1:1 ratio of water to sugar and the same absolute amounts, 1.5 cups each. I use a pan of the same size, the same stingy amount of stirring, the same low simmer until the water gradually boils off and bubbles foam on top of bubbles, and no liquid remains. I get them out of the pan fast, spread them on plates, let them cool. They’re tooth-chippingly hard, they’re like glass. I throw out whole batches of them, though the Hungarian physicist says, on consult, that if he leaves one in his mouth it eventually melts. After an hour or something, maybe a whole afternoon. I am in despair, I can talk of nothing else.

BONUS (possibly unrelated): A delicious cooking video, by PES: