I am such a sucker for citrus. If I didn’t hate temperatures over 73 degrees I’d move someplace where I could have my own huge lemon tree in the backyard and spend all day figuring out ways to use bushels of lemons.
As it is, I have to buy my citrus, so I try to get as much use as possible from every part of it. Recently I impulse-bought about 5 pounds of Meyer lemons and I couldn’t let the peels go to waste.
Here’s some of the ways I used my lemon peels. Similar techniques work well for orange and lime peels as well.
Lemon Peel Management 101
Unless you’re a fan of waxy fungicide residue in your food, I recommend going organic with citrus where you’ll be specifically eating the peel. Give your fruit a good wash before proceeding.
You only want the outer, brightly colored zest of the lemons, not the thicker white pith underneath. I think everyone pretty much knows this, but the zest is where all the concentrated lemon oil is. The pith is pretty much just bitter.
Get the zest off your citrus before you slice or juice your fruit. It is a terrible kind of torture to attempt to zest half an already-juiced lemon. Trust me, I know.
A good peeler should leave most of the pith behind. If a teeny bit of pith comes along for the ride, as shown in the photo above, it’s not a big deal. Don’t do anything silly like scrape every microscopic fleck of pith of the zest with a grapefruit spoon. You don’t have time for that crap. It’ll be fine.
Once you’ve got your strips of zest, you’re ready to go.
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