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5 Ways to Eat Citrus Peels

April 9th, 2015
Center for Food Safety

Citrus season is winding down, but there’s still time to get the most out of your winter fruit. Citrus peels are a woefully underused part of the fruit that are completely edible and delicious. Usually the peels end up in the compost bin, but here at CFS we try to waste as little food as possible and eat the peels instead!

Here are 5 tasty ways to get the most out of citrus season; be sure to use organic, unwaxed citrus in all of these recipes for healthy and delicious eating.

Candied Citrus Peels
Candied peels are a sweet treat that make a great holiday or party gift. You can use them in baking, as a cocktail garnish or just eat them straight from the container.

Ingredients

  • 2 grapefruits, 3 oranges, or 4 lemons (organic)
  • 4 cups sugar, plus more for rolling
  • 4 cups water


Directions
With a paring knife, make 6 slits along the curve of each citrus fruit from top to bottom, cutting through the peel but not into the fruit. Gently remove the peel with his fingers. Slice each piece of peel lengthwise into quarter-inch-wide strips. Remove excess pith from each strip with the knife and discard.

Place strips in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, drain, and repeat twice.

Bring sugar and water to a boil, stirring occasionally only until the sugar dissolves. Add strips to the boiling syrup, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer gently until strips are translucent, about 1 hour. Remove from heat and let the strips cool in the syrup.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer strips to a wire rack placed on a rimmed baking sheet. Wipe off excess syrup with paper towels, and then roll strips in sugar. Arrange in a single layer on a wire rack and let dry for at least 30 minutes.

Sugared peels will keep, covered at room temperature, for up to 2 weeks.

Citrus Finishing Salt
This seasoned salt is a delicious addition to cookies, caramels, and any other food you would finish with salt. Try it on vegetables such as tomatoes and fava beans, as well as in curries and stews- the possibilities are endless.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
  • 1 tablespoon organic citrus zest


Directions
Preheat your oven to 225° F. Combine the salt and zest in a medium bowl and mix well. Work the zest into the salt with your hands, making sure there aren't any clumps of zest. Spread across a parchment lined baking sheet. If you're making more than one flavor of salt, repeat this as many times as necessary.

Bake the salt for 70 minutes, or until the citrus is completely dried out. Flecks of zest should crumble when pinched between your fingers. Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit. For finer salt you can pulse each salt a few times in a food processor, or keep it as is if you want it flaky.

Salts keep in an airtight jar for a couple of months.   

Citrus Sugar
Use this flavored sugar instead of granulated sugar in baking, or sprinkle it on top of scones or cookies for a delightful citrusy treat. Citrus sugar is also great for making drinks- try it in teas, lemonade or cocktails.

Ingredients

  • 3 lemons, 2 oranges or 4 limes (organic)
  • 2 cups sugar


Directions
Using a citrus zester, remove the zest. If you do not have a zester, use a paring knife or a vegetable peeler to remove the zest, and then scrape as much of the bitter white pith off as possible.

Roughly chop zest, transfer to a food processor, and add 1 cup sugar. Pulse until zest has been finely ground, about 3 minutes.

Transfer the ground mixture to a medium bowl. Add remaining cup sugar, and toss until evenly mixed.

Spread the citrus sugar on a baking pan and let sit at room temperature until dry, about 1 hour. The sugar will keep for several months in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Citrus Olive Oil
This simple olive oil infusion can transform any dish. Use it in salad dressings, baked goods and pasta sauces for a subtle kick. We like Meyer lemons for their delicate sweet scent, but feel free to use any citrus peels you have on hand.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Peels from 2 organic lemons (or other fruit)

Directions
Warm the olive oil and peels in a small pot over very low heat for 20 minutes. Allow to cool for half an hour, then strain and pour into a bottle.

Keep the oil in your pantry, away from light and heat.

Citrus Infused Tea
Dried organic citrus peels make a great addition to your basic cup of tea. Use any peels you have on hand; we like to use orange and lemon but any will work.

Directions
Scrape away as much of the pith as you can and put the peels on a baking sheet in a single layer to dry for a few days. You can also speed up the process by toasting them in a 200° F oven until completely dry.

Store dried peels in an airtight jar in your pantry to add to your favorite teas.