Drying citrus peel to use later

Try drying citrus peel to get the most out of citrus fruits this winter.

During the winter months citrus fruits are in abundance, why not dry some of those flavorful peels? The peels of citron, grapefruit, kumquat, lime, lemon, tangelo, and tangerine can be dried. Citron is a yellow-green lumpy looking subtropical fruit similar to a lemon. It is harvested for its peel, which is candied and used in fruit cake.

Michigan State University Extension recommends washing, rinsing, and sanitizing any cutting boards, equipment, utensils, and work areas before preparing any food to lessen the possibility of cross-contamination.

How to dry orange peel

  1. Select brightly colored fruits. When selecting an orange for its peel, choose a thick-skinned navel orange peel over a thin-skinned Valencia orange. The Navel orange peel will dry better. 
  2. Rinse the fruit thoroughly. 
  3. Remove the outer 1/16 to 1/8-inch of the peel. Do not use any of the bitter white pith. The white pith will become even more bitter when dried and ruins the flavor of the peel.
  4. To dry the peel in an electric food dehydrator, place the peel in a single layer on the drying trays. Place parchment paper or wax paper on the drying trays so the peel does not fall through the openings in the tray.
  5. The pieces should not touch or overlap because this will slow down the drying process. The estimated drying time is about eight to twelve hours.  The time it takes the fruit peel to dry will depend upon the initial moisture content of the peel and the type of food dehydrator used.
  6. To test the peel for dryness, cut the peel to look for any visible moisture. Also, try to squeeze any moisture out of the peel. When the peel is bent in half, it should not stick to itself. Allow the peel to cool for 30 to 60 minutes or until completely cool before packaging for storage. 

By taking advantage of the abundance of citrus fruits during the winter, it is possible to have dry orange peels or other citrus peels for recipes all year round. It takes just a little time and energy.

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