Sometimes a recipe calls for dried orange or lemon peel, and this can throw people for a loop.
While dried citrus peels are sold in markets and, more often, in natural food stores in some countries, in other places they are difficult to find. But don't despair -- the good news is that it's quite easy to make your own at home.
Be sure to use organically grown citrus fruit, with untreated, pesticide-free peels.
I've given two methods below -- a no-cook, air-dry method which takes a few days, if you're not in a hurry, and a speed-dry method, using an oven.
Once your peels are thoroughly dried, you can either crumble them between your fingers or whirl them in a blender or spice grinder to form a fine powder.
You can then use the powdered, dried peel in place of orange or lemon extract in baking; in toppings, to flavor sugar-bowl sugar, in spice mixes (e.g., lemon, pepper, rosemary and sage as a barbecue rub), in teas, sprinkled on fish or chicken, and to flavor sauces and salad dressings. It would also be great to sprinkle together with some sugar on top of cookies, muffins, or cakes, before baking.
You can also use them to make your own DIY cocktail bitters or homemade vermouth. Another idea: add them to a mulling spices mix for making aromatic hot mulled cider or mulled wine (vin brulé)! Homemade mulling spices would also make a great holiday gift.
[Edited and expanded by Danette St. Onge on May 25, 2016.]
- 2 oranges or lemons (organic), (or any other citrus fruit such as tangerines, limes, grapefruit, pomelo, blood orange, bitter orange, etc.)
Use a fine-bladed paring knife or vegetable peeler to trim away just the colored part of the skin, leaving the bitter white pith behind. Not only does the white part have a bitter flavor, the peels will take much longer to dry if the spongey white pith is still attached.
No-cook, hands-off method: Lay the strips on a plate (with the inside of the peels facing upwards) and let them dry at room temperature for 3-4 days, until they have shriveled and are no longer moist.
Speed method: If you are short on time, you can also dry them in a 200-degree Fahrenheit oven, spread on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, for about 25-30 minutes. The peels will curl up and turn stiff when they're dry.
Store the dried peel in a dark place, in a clean, airtight jar.