Although we’ve shared our excitement about dehydrating citrus before, this post is as much about a surprise benefit of owning a dehydrator. It’s a rather logical advantage but one I rarely thought about before getting one: it cuts food waste down considerably.
I don’t shop with lists. This is in part to being a member of a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program where most of my food is chosen for me and largely because I like to see what items are at the absolute peak and available when I’m shopping. Most of our items are local though I’m on a giant kick of using lemons and limes right now (as I continue to learn about the important role of acid in the kitchen). This includes Holiday Shopping – I stock up on ingredients which are the best I can find and make up the menu as I prepare it.
Over the Holidays we had excess citrus – limes that weren’t added to cocktails, a few lemons that were just a few too many and some mandarin oranges because it’s a Christmas tradition I find very difficult to give up on. By the time we took our tree down, the lot of citrus were starting to turn the corner and I knew it was time to overdose of them or find a back-up plan, so they were chopped up and tossed into the dehydrator overnight.
The optimal way to dry citrus is to slice it as evenly as possible, remove visible seeds (we left ours in as I was lazy) and put it in the dehydrator until the flesh is dried and fragile (i.e. crunchy).
We’ll share ideas on what to do with eat but here’s a few random facts:
- They will lose over 90% of their weight.
- Other than seeds, everything is edible.
- Especially because everything is edible, I highly encourage you to use organic produce
- The lime and (especially) the lemon flesh will darken a lot. This is fine – it just looks dark; when you cook with it you won’t even be able to see the flesh (exception: tea which you could grind the lemon for if it bothered you that much).
- The peel of the lime is the most bitter of all and most find it difficult to eat even small slices. You may want to chop it thinner before drying, or use some of the solutions below.
- These will keep a very, very, very long time – just store in a sealed jar out of direct sunlight (our ‘Great Wall of Preserves‘ is hidden from the sun at all times despite it being in our kitchen).
What to do with dried Oranges
- We eat them in slices, added to stir-frys (like this recipe for orange beef)
- Bake with them
- Add them to tea
- There were a bunch of ideas added to our first post on drying oranges.
What to do with dried Lemons
- My favorite use is to smell them. I know that must sound ridiculous but I swear by these as a natural way to open your sinuses; they are an awesome way to stimulate your senses, wake up or clear your breathing.
- Add to tea – either whole or ground into pieces.
- If you want to add them to water (i.e. for drinking), rehydrate them in a small bit of boiling water to make a lemon concentrate that could be added to a larger portion of water and chilled to serve.
- Throw a few into any stir-fry – or add to rice as it cooks.
What to do with dried Limes
- My favourite thing is to turn them to a powder (we use a coffee grinder) and mist that powder with salt and/or sugar. It’s a great dusting for cocktails and an interesting use in vinaigrettes.
- Remember that this one is very bitter.
- There was a pretty good slew of ideas shared on our drying limes post as well.
There are all sorts of uses for all of them. If you’re looking to chop them small when cooking, I recommend adding them to what you’re cooking first (they will absorb moisture and soften) before cutting into the dried ones as they’ll mostly shatter and send lemon shrapnel across your kitchen.
What would/ do you do with dehydrated citrus?