You probably won’t believe how much citrus we consume in the house. Lime, lemon, kalamansi… We use fresh citrus juice for mixing cocktails. Speedy loves keeping fresh lemonade in the fridge, Sam prefers kalamansi juice. Alex and I use lime, lemon, kalamansi and orange for cooking and baking.
Our kaffir lime tree is a constant source of joy, most of all. Not only do we love the fruit, the leaves which sell for so much as a gourmet ingredient in groceries and supermarkets are just there for the picking. What fruits are too high up to reach just get overripe and fall to the ground.
We utilize every edible part of the citrus. Except for kalamansi, even before the juice is squeezed, we remove the zest. We add citrus zest to cake batter and cookie dough, and use them to make syrups, sauces and seasonings.
So, yes, we always have citrus peel lying around. Sometimes, with the zest; most times, without the zest.
If you’re a citrus lover too and you’ve just been throwing away citrus peel and zest after squeezing the juice from the fruits, know that there are plenty of food and non-food uses for them.
Use citrus zest to make simple syrup
Simple syrup is a basic ingredient in many cocktail drinks. At its most basic, it is equal amounts of water and sugar boiled together until the sugar is dissolved.
Citrus fruits, especially lime, lemon and orange, are popular additions to cocktail drinks. Why not infuse your simple syrup with citrus zest to give your mixed drinks more of that citrusy aroma and flavor?
See how to make infused simple syrup.
(While we’re on infusion, if you like to drizzle oil on your salad, you may add citrus zest to your herb-infused olive oil too.)
Make lemon sugar
If you own a dehydrator (if not, use the oven but keep the temperature low), you can dehydrate the lemon zests then pulverize them in the food processor. Add to white sugar in a jar, screw in the cap, shake well and you have lemon sugar!
How do you use lemon sugar? If you sweeten your tea, add it to a hot cup of tea. You can use it for making iced tea too!
Use lemon zest for homemade limoncello
If you love limoncello (I do!) but the price makes your head spin, homemade is the best option.
Cut off the lemon zest with a vegetable peeler, drop into a bottle of vodka, screw on the cap tightly and leave in a cool, dark place for a week or two. After the soaking period, strain the vodka, add lemon-zest infused simple syrup and voila! Limoncello.
I should post a proper recipe for that soon. Stay tuned!
Drop citrus peels around the garden to keep cats away
Back when we still had cats (the last one died of old age and that’s a sad story I don’t like repeating), they used to make their beds in the troughs where herbs were planted.
Herbs are not sturdy things. The sheer weight of one cat can press herbs down into the soil and ruin the leaves that we use for cooking. I read somewhere that cats don’t like citrus so I started dropping citrus peels — with or without the zest — directly into the troughs.
It worked wonders. The cats didn’t go anywhere near the troughs. Apparently, they didn’t like the citrusy smell.
Make scented oil with citrus zest
One time between Christmas and New Year, we had so much fruits and we ran out of ideas for using citrus zest in food. I made scented oil with the excess zest of limes, lemons and oranges.
It’s not difficult. Click here for a full description of the process that I followed.
Add orange peels to vinegar-based household cleaner
If you’re trying to veer away from chemical-laden household cleaners and you’ve embraced vinegar-based alternatives, then, you probably also know how spraying vinegar on tiles and kitchen surfaces isn’t friendly to the nose. Yes, it stinks.
Soften the sting of the vinegary smell with orange peels. Click here for more details.
More food uses for citrus peel and zest from around the web
1. Make lemon-pepper seasoning at home so you don’t have to pay for the exorbitant prices of branded stuff.
2. Make lemon extract (this is especially useful for baking cakes).
3. Make candied lemon peel.
More non-food uses for citrus peel and zest from around the web
1. “Citrus peel is a great addition to the compost pile. Just be sure to chop them a little to help them to degrade faster. You can use any of the peels to add to a compost pile. It will make the compost pile smell fresh and clean too…” — Wikihow
2. “Add orange peels to your garbage to keep bugs away (especially useful in outdoor situations, such as camping).” — Mother Nature Network
3. “Clean coffee pots: To a cool coffee pot, add lemon rinds, a few tablespoons of salt (as a mild abrasive), and a cup or two of ice. Swirl ingredients around in the coffee pot for several minutes, or until stains are completely removed.” — DIY Natural
4. “How to Kill Ants With Citrus Rinds” — SFGate