How to Make Dried Orange or Lemon Peel at Home

Dried orange peels in a bowl

Supermimicry / Getty Images

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Dry: 72 hrs
Total: 72 hrs 20 mins
Servings: 2 to 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
1 Calories
0g Fat
0g Carbs
0g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 1
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 0mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Protein 0g
Calcium 3mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

When enjoying citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, you end up with a lot of waste. Unless you're adding tons of zest to your dishes, the peel ends up in the trash. It's a shame since there's a lot of good citrus flavor and aroma stored in the peel. You can certainly freeze citrus zest and peel, but one great way to preserve and harness this flavor is by drying lemon and orange peel, which are perfectly edible and can really add a whole lot of flavor to your cooking.

While dried orange peel and lemon peel are sold in markets and natural food stores, they can be difficult to find. The good news is that dried citrus peel is quite easy to make at home and can be made with or without the help of an oven—no fancy dehydrating equipment required.

If at all possible, use organically grown citrus fruit with untreated, pesticide-free peels and wash and dry them well before beginning. Oranges such as navel, Valencia, or cara cara are great for drying, as are lemons, limes, tangerines, and grapefruits. Once your peels are thoroughly dried, you can leave them whole or grind them in a spice grinder to form a fine powder. 

Ingredients

  • 2 organic oranges (or lemons or any other citrus, such as tangerines, limes, grapefruit, pomelo, blood orange, bitter orange, etc.)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Use a fine-bladed paring knife or sharp vegetable peeler to trim away just the colored part of the skin, leaving the bitter white pith behind. The white pith is not only bitter, but the peels will also take much longer to dry if it is still attached. Use a knife to scrape off any pith clinging to the peels.

  3. No-cook method: Lay the strips on a plate (with the inside of the peels facing upwards) and let them dry in a warm, well-circulated, sunny place at room temperature for three to four days, until they have shriveled, lost their moisture, and are crisp. 

  4. Speed method: If you are short on time, you can also dry them in a 200 F oven. Spread them on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and dry in the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes. If the peel starts to brown, turn off the oven for a few minutes and rotate the pan. The peels will curl up and turn stiff when they're dry. 

  5. Store the cooled, dried peels in a cool, dark place in a clean, airtight container. They will keep for up to a month.

Tips

You may be wondering what to do with all that dried orange or lemon peel. Here are a few ideas.

  • Dried orange peel or lemon peel can be used to make your own DIY cocktail bitters or homemade vermouth.
  • Add them to a mulling spices mix for making aromatic hot mulled cider or mulled wine (vin brulé). Homemade mulling spices make a great holiday gift.
  • Add dried citrus peel to a marinade or salad dressing.
  • Make an infusion with your favorite extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Grind them up with salt in a food processor for a citrus-flavored salt that's delicious on vegetables, chicken, and fish, for example.

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