Learn how to make dried lemon peel ( zest), a versatile ingredient to use in cooking, baking, and seasoning. It is a simple process that does not require a dehydrator. Simply save the peels, dry them out, and use them in a variety of recipes to add a bright and tangy citrus note.
Where to Use Dried Lemon Peel ( Zest)
It can be used in a variety of dishes to add a burst of citrus flavor. Here are some ideas for where to use dried lemon peel:
- Baked goods: Add it to muffins, cakes, and cookies for a bright, citrusy twist.
- Marinades and dressings: Mix it into marinades or dressings for fish, chicken, or salad to add a zesty flavor.
- Spice blends: Use dried lemon peel in homemade spice blends such as Lemon pepper seasoning or Greek seasoning.
- Tea and cocktails: Use it to infuse tea or cocktails with a bright citrus flavor.
- Savory dishes: Add it to pasta dishes, roasted vegetables, or soups for a touch of lemony flavor.
How To Zest a Lemon
Zesting a lemon is a simple process that involves removing the outermost layer of the lemon peel, which has a strong citrus aroma and flavor. Here are the steps to zest a lemon:
- Wash the lemon under cold running water to remove any dirt or residue. Dry it with a clean towel.
- Take a zester or a microplane grater and hold it over a plate or a cutting board. Alternatively, you can use a vegetable peeler to remove strips of the lemon peel, and then chop them finely with a sharp knife.
- Using gentle pressure, run the zester or grater over the surface of the lemon, moving it from top to bottom, taking care not to include the white pith, which is bitter.
- Continue to zest the lemon until you have enough zest for your recipe. The amount of zest you need will depend on the recipe and your personal preference.
Dried Lemon Peel Without a Dehydrator
If you don't have a dehydrator, you can still easily make dried lemon peel at home using your oven. To dry lemon zest in the oven, spread it out on a baking sheet and bake at a low temperature until dry. If you have more time, you can air-dry the zest by leaving it out in a well-ventilated area for a few days, such as near a sunny window.
Drying Lemon Zest in the Oven
- Set your oven to the lowest possible temperature. This could be around 150ºF-175ºF (65ºC-80ºC) for most ovens.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread out the lemon peel on top. You don't need to preheat the oven. Simply place the baking sheet with the lemon peel in the cold oven and let it warm up slowly with the oven. Depending on the thickness and quantity of your zest, as well as the low temperature of your oven, it will take approximately 30-60 minutes to dry completely.
❗ If you have thicker strips of peel from using a vegetable peeler, they may take a couple of hours to dry completely in the oven.
Here are some tips for making Dried Lemon Peel:
- Use fresh, high-quality lemons for the best flavor and aroma.
- Wash the lemons thoroughly before zesting to remove any dirt, wax, or pesticides.
- Use a microplane grater, small hole grater, cocktail zester, or vegetable peeler to remove the thin yellow skin or zest.
- Make sure to only zest the yellow part of the lemon and avoid the white pith, which can be bitter.
- Spread the zest out in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and dry it in a low-temperature oven.
- Check the zest periodically to avoid over-drying, which can make it brittle and less flavorful.
- Once dried, store the zest in an airtight container in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and moisture.
- Label the container with the date of preparation to ensure the zest stays fresh and flavorful.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can use other citrus fruits such as oranges, limes, or grapefruits to make dried peel. The process is the same.
No, you can make dried lemon peel using an oven, air fryer, or by leaving it out to air dry. A dehydrator will speed up the process and provide consistent results, but it is not necessary.
Yes, you can use a grater or a knife to make lemon zest, but a zester will provide the finest and most consistent zest.
The lemon peel should be dry and brittle to the touch when it is fully dry. Thicker strips of peel may take longer to dry than fine zest.
Store dried lemon peel in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Avoid exposing it to moisture or heat, as this can cause it to lose its flavor and spoil. Dried lemon peel can last for 6-12 months if stored properly.
To store your dried lemon peel, make sure to keep it in an airtight container. This will help to prevent moisture from making the peel soft. With proper storage, it can last for 6-12 months.
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