There are lots of uses for citrus peel, and there’s a lot of flavour and nutrition in them so don’t throw them away after using up the juice. Many recipes call for the zest of lemons or limes to add a bit of zing.
A microplane is the easiest tool for zesting the citrus as it takes just the rind and leaves behind the bitter, white pith so my first suggestion is to take the time to make zest.
If you’ve juiced lemons, limes, oranges or grapefruit but don’t have an immediate need for zest, you can make it anyway and dry or freeze it for future use. If you don’t have a microplane or zester, you can also use the small side of a box grater. Place the zest on wax paper on a flat tray in the freezer to dry out. When it is completely dry transfer it into jars and store in the pantry. Alternatively, spread the zest on a towel and leave it in the sun until dried, then store in a clean jar. It can be used to add flavour to stir-fries, cakes, rubs for roast meat and much more.
Go one step further and you can make citrus extract powder. Use your microplane to make zest or create peel twists – this is larger peels of skin made by using a potato peeler, but again, be careful not to include the bitter pith. Allow them to dry - this will take about 3-4 days for twists, less for zest.
Once dry, put it in a blender (or spice grinder) and pulverise it into a powder. Store it in a clean jar.
You can then use this citrus powder to make lemon pepper or lime salt. Just mix the lemon extract powder with freshly cracked pepper, or the lime powder with rock salt, and store it in a jar for later use. Alternatively, use it to flavour softened butter and then roll the citrus butter into a log, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate until solid. Use the butter on roast chicken or turkey, on top of grilled salmon or other seafood, or on your morning toast to give it some zing.
You can use the citrus powder to make citrus sugar – add the powder to sugar and mix it well.
An even easier way is to just use fresh twists of peel. Place them in a jar with the sugar and let the oil from the peel infuse the sugar for about a day or two, then remove the peel and store the sugar in the pantry. The peel from one lemon should flavour about 2 cups of sugar. Fresh twists can be used to make citrus olive oil: pound citrus peel (pith removed) in a mortar and pestle with some oil added. Place this in a jar with more oil and let it rest for 6-12 hours. Strain into a clean jar.
You can also follow this idea to make infusions: infuse honey or vinegar with citrus peel by placing twists in the bottle or jar to let the flavours seep in. Strain the liquid and
store in a clean jar. If you are sick of citrus flavours in your food, then use the peel to clean your jug or kettle.
For mineral deposit build-up in jugs or kettles, fill the vessel with water, add a handful of lemon peel and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat and let it sit for an hour, drain, then rinse well.