The winter citrus train is still rolling through town, so what to do with all that peel? Re-use them and get busy with a bout of spring cleaning, it’s a win-win! Yep, divert them from the bin or the compost where the worms won’t be thanking you for them, and kick a few DIY goals at the same time. So if you’ve got an embarrassment of citrus at your place, here’s a few practical ways you can put them to good use…
Make your own citrus cleaner, fire lighters, homemade liquor or simple dehydrated peel for when (shock horror) they’re not around in abundance – dried slices will make a nice cup of tea or jazz up a hot chocolate, and ground as a citrus powder it’s great sprinkled on anything that’s improved with a citrus hit. Breads, cakes, fruit loaves, savoury meals, avocado toast… pretty much everything.
Dehydrated peel can be used for a multitude of tricks and treats. Dry the peel for a few hours in a very low oven, or on top of the wood heater overnight, or on a cooling rack in a sunny spot for a week or so. Once dried, whole pieces or slices can be stored in a paper bag as they are, or ground into a fine powder for sprinkling on all manner of baked goods or meals. Apart from teas and hot chocolates, you may like to use dried citrus rind in slow cooked stews, Chinese style cooking, infusing steamed rice, or in cakes and fruit loaves. For cooking, limiting the white pith will minimise bitterness.
If you do have a wood heater at your place, or like to enjoy a fire outside, dried peel is a great fire starter! The aromatic (and volatile) oils smell lovely as an extra bonus, and they burn really cleanly.
Put those fragrant, antibacterial oils to work as natural helpers around the house. You can make a simple vinegar based cleaner by adding used rinds to a glass jar and covering with regular white vinegar before leaving the jar to infuse for 2-3 weeks. Add a stem or two of herbs like rosemary, tea tree, or lavender to the jar for extra strength and good smells. Strain the mix after steeping, and transfer to a spray bottle. Dilute 1:1 with water if you want to stretch it a little further.
HOMEMADE CITRUS LIQOUR
Homemade limoncello may be more your style – lemon rinds steeped in vodka and sugar syrup to be enjoyed all summer long. There are plenty of recipes online, like this limoncello or here for a homemade Grand Marnier using oranges and brandy. You’re welcome.
Hints and Tips
Consider growing a stockpile of used rinds in a container in the freezer (much like a slow gathering of veggie scraps for making stock) - if you eat them sporadically just add rinds one by one to be used in a batch later. With the homemade cleaner, you could slowly add peels to a jar of vinegar as you use them, just leave it a couple of weeks at the end to get the most from the last rind.