Don’t Throw Away Orange Rinds: How to Make Dried Citrus Peel
In our modern world, where most of us live in a world of abundance, we’re quick to throw things away. A hole in your shirt? Most people wouldn’t even think to repair it. Broken kitchen appliance? Considering the issue of planned obsolescence, even if you wanted to get it repaired you might just be told to buy a new one.
Food is exactly the same, in fact it’s one of the areas where we waste the most: in the US, 40% of food goes uneaten. That’s more than 20 pounds of wasted food per person.
But this is all because as the consumer, it’s cheap for us to throw things away and just buy something new, be it a shirt, a toaster or a bunch of Swiss chard. Yet the real costs of all that throwing away and buying new are externalized, with many costs beyond what we see on the price tag. For example, that food you throw in the trash can? It eventually ends up in the landfill, where rotting food accounts for almost 25 percent of U.S. methane emissions.
This is all to say that if we are conscious of what we use and how we use it, we are making a step in the right direction. Composting instead of throwing food scraps in the rubbish bin for example.
Then there is what I like to call “whole vegetable cooking.” We’re so used to certain parts of food being seen as “waste” or “scraps” that we forget that they too can be eaten. Carrot tops for example make a great pesto.
Citrus is exactly the same. When you eat an orange, what do you do with the peel? Throw it away? Think again.
Keep all those rinds (oranges, lemons, grapefruit, clementines) and turn them into dried citrus peel instead. With a jar of dried citrus peel on hand, you can add a little citrus flavor to a vinaigrette, a cake, even bring some aroma to your morning porridge. Basically any time you want to use citrus zest and you don’t have fresh lemons/oranges/etc on hand.
It’s important to note that if you’re planning on turning your citrus rinds into dried citrus peel, you want to get organic, sustainably grown citrus. For conventionally grown citrus, most pesticide residue is concentrated in the peel, which makes your dried citrus peel not so appetizing. No one ever said, “oh yum, a tasty peel with a hint of fungicide!” now did they? And even when you are buying organic, make sure to wash those peels.
Making dried citrus peel is as easy as, well… drying them out. They can actually be made by peeling and leaving them out at room temperature for a couple of days, but I prefer the oven method, which is a bit faster.
Dried Citrus Peel
Any citrus peel you have on hand
Preheat the oven to 200°F (95°C).
The more pith – the white stuff that’s on a citrus peel – the more bitter your dried citrus peel will taste, so remove as much of it as you can, using a pairing knife.
Cut the citrus peel into thin slices and spread out on a baking sheet.
Leave in the oven for 2 to 3 hours, until the citrus peels have completely dried out and started to curl up on the edges.
Store in an airtight container.
How to use dried citrus peel:
You should probably just ask the question, “how could I NOT use dried citrus peel?” since this stuff can be used in so many different ways. Add some to your favorite black tea blend for a citrus aroma. Put in a cake. Add some to hot chocolate. The options are endless.
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