Leghorn occupies the first place in Italy, and perhaps throughout the Mediterranean, for the preparation of candied citron and orange peel. Citron is brought for this purpose from Corsica, from Sicily, from Calabria, and other southern provinces of Italy, from Tunis and Tripoli, and even from Morocco; while the oranges imported into Leghorn, whether for consumption or for candying, are nearly all brought from the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica. In all the countries contributing the raw fruit for this industry, it is treated in the same manner for the over sea passage. The fruit is simply halved and placed in hogsheads or large casks, filled with a fairly strong solution of brine, the fruit being halved merely to ensure thorough preservation of the rind by an equal saturation of the interior as well as the exterior surface. In these casks it arrives at the doors of the manufactory. The first process to which it is then subjected is the separation of the fruit from the rind. This is done by women, who, seated round a large vessel, take out the fruit, skilfully gouge out the inside with a few rapid motions of the forefinger and thumb, and, throwing this aside, place the rind unbroken in a vessel alongside them.
The rind is next carried to large casks filled with fresh cold water, in which it is immersed for two or three days, to rid it of the salt it has absorbed. When taken out of these casks, the rinds are boiled, with the double object of making them tender and of completely driving out any trace of salt that may still be left in them. For this purpose they are boiled in a large copper cauldron, for one to two hours, according to the quality of the fruit and the number of days it has been immersed in brine. When removed from this cauldron, the peel should be quite free from any flavour of salt, and at the same time be sufficiently soft to absorb the sugar readily from the syrup in which it is now ready to be immersed. The next process to which the rind is subjected is that of a slow absorption of sugar, and this occupies no less than eight days. The absorption of sugar by fresh fruit in order to be thorough must be slow, and not only slow but also gradual; that is to say, the fruit should be at first treated with a weak solution of sugar, which may then be gradually strengthened, for the power of absorption is one that grows by feeding.
The fruit has now passed into the saturating room, where on every side are long rows of immense earthenware vessels, about 4 ft. high and 2 ft. in extreme diameter, in outline roughly resembling the famed Etruscan jar, but with a girth altogether out of proportion to their height, and with very short necks, and large open mouths. All the vessels are rilled to the brim with citron and orange peel, in every stage of absorption - that is to say, steeped in sugar syrup of about eight different degrees of strength. This process almost always occupies eight days, the syrup in each jar being changed every day, and with vessels of such great size and weight, holding at least 1/2 ton of fruit and syrup, it is clearly easier to deal with the syrup than with the fruit. To take the fruit out of one solution and to place it into the next stronger, and so on throughout the series, would be a very tedious process, and one, moreover, injurious to the fruit. In each of these jars, therefore, there is fixed a wooden well, into which a simple hand suction pump being introduced, the syrup is pumped from each jar daily into the adjoining one. A slight fer-mentation next takes place in most of the jars, but this, so far from being harmful, is regarded as necessary, but is not allowed to go too far.
There is yet another stage, and that, perhaps, is the most important, through which the peel has to pass before it can be pronounced sufficiently saturated with sugar It is now boiled in a still stronger syrup, of a density of 40° by the testing tube, and this is done in large copper vessels over a slow coke Are, care being taken to prevent the peel adhering to the side of the vessel, by gently stirring with a long paddle-ladle. This second boiling occupies about one hour. Taken off the fire, the vessels are carried to a large wooden trough, over which is a coarse open wire netting. The contents are poured over this, and the peel is distributed over the surface of the netting, so that the syrup - now thickened to the consistency of treacle - mav drain off the surface of the peel into the trough below. The peel has now taken up as much sugar as is necessary. Next comes the final process, the true candying, or covering the surface of the peel with the layer of sugar crystals, which is seen on all candied fruits. To effect this a quantity of crystallised sugar - at Leghorn the same quality of sugar is used as is employed in the preparation of the syrup - is dissolved in a little water, and in this the now dried peel, taken off the wire netting, is immersed.
The same copper vessels are used, and the mixture is again boiled over a slow fire. A short boiling will suffice for this last process, . for the little water will quickly be driven off, and the sugar upon cooling will form its natural crystals over the surface of the fruit. Poured off from these vessels, it is again dried upon the surface of the wire netting, as before described. The candying is now complete, and the candied peel is ready for the packing-room, to which it is carried in shallow baskets. In the packing-room may be seen hundreds of boxes, of oval shape and of different sizes, for each country prefers its boxes to be of a particular weight.