Don't Forget to Zest!
When cooking with fresh oranges, lemons and limes, there’s a unique bonus that other fruits don’t yield. Dried citrus peels are expensive to purchase, yet ever so easy to prepare at home. While enjoying the bounty of luscious citrus fruits, now in season, don’t forget the bonus bouquet of flavoring found in the peel of citrus fruits. You’ll get twice the flavor while stretching your food dollar.
Selecting Citrus for Zest
Never zest citrus fruits which contain injected color dyes. Read the label on the citrus bag before buying. Select organic fruit for zesting, when possible. Remove any residue of pesticide or fungicide from non-organic fruit by plunging whole fruit in a solution of apple cider vinegar diluted with a little water for two minutes, then scrub. Rinse completely and dry.
Peels from orange and lemon are the most frequently used either fresh or dried in most recipes interchangeably. A zester or a vegetable grater may be used to easily prepare citrus peels at home. Do not grate down into the white (pith) portion of the fruit, as it will yield a bitter taste.
Fresh Grated Citrus Peels
When a recipe calls for a teaspoon of lemon peel, grate and measure one teaspoon from a fresh whole lemon and return the lemon to the refrigerator. The lemon will continue to stay fresh in the
produce drawer for about one week.
Drying Citrus Peels
To dry fresh citrus zest, grate peels over a metal tray. Place tray in a gas oven without the heat turned on, overnight. Remove the tray in the morning, label and store in a spice jar out of direct sunlight. To dry in an electric oven, place the tray of fresh grated peels in the oven at the lowest temperature setting, 150°F for two hours, checking after the first hour for dryness. Citrus peels will change color slightly when dehydrated.
Delicious Ways to Use Fresh or Dried Citrus Zest
Add grated lemon or orange peels, fresh or dried, to:
A potato peeler can also be used to zest a long strip of citrus peel to garnish food. Tie a long strand of orange or lemon zest into a bow to beautifully decorate any entrée, beverage or dessert.
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About the Author:
Deborah Tukua is the editor of Journey to Natural Living, and Ultimate H2O Solutions. She is author of the books, Naturally Sweet Blender Treats: 55 Fresh from the Blender Recipes, and Marketing Strategies for Chiropractic Success, and a longtime writer for the Farmers' Almanac.
Articles and recipes by natural living and healthy lifestyle author and writer,
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