Don’t Throw Away Your Citrus Rinds – Dry and Save Them For Recipes That Call for Zest

Don’t Throw Away Your Citrus Rinds – Dry and Save Them For Recipes That Call for Zest

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I can’t believe the number of citrus fruit rinds that I’ve trashed (I’ll compost one of these days) because I didn’t know about this trick.

Now, when I have oranges in the house for snacking, lemons for seasoning fish, or limes for a tangy rice, I will dry and powder their rinds.  No more will I need to make a special trip to the market for just a touch of citrus flavor.  I’ll be a quick draw citrus cowgirl – my pistol teaspoon loaded with gun citrus powder ready to take on any recipe that comes my way (I had to bring in the Wild West theme somehow).

How To Use Powdered Zest

Use powdered zest exactly as you would fresh zest (1 tsp of fresh zest = 1 tsp of powdered zest).  While it’s just as strong as its fresh counterpart, powdered zest has a more mellow, robust flavor (not quite as acidic).  In a VERY informal taste test of two orange maple syrups – one made with fresh zest and the other with powdered zest – both Jonathan and I preferred the powdered. I realize that this is not very useful data, but I encourage you to perform your own tests at home and report back.

How To Make Powdered Zest

Peel off the rind before eating or juicing your fruit.  Try not to get too much of the white – it’s bitter.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and fill the sheet with the rinds.  Don’t overlap them too much.


  • leave the rinds out somewhere warm for a couple of days until they are dried and curled up (our house is too air conditioned and we are scared of bugs outside so we don’t do this method), or
  • bake at your oven’s lowest temperature (ours is 170 F) for about 4 hours or until the rinds are dry are curled.

Finely grind the dried rinds in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.

As long as the powdered zest is completely dry, it should last for about a year (I’ve read this, but haven’t personally put it to the test).  Store it in the refrigerator to prolong the shelf life.

For a point of reference, one medium-sized orange makes slightly less than one tablespoon of powdered zest.

More Info

Chocolate and Zucchini did an excellent post on roasted lemon powder.  She uses a slightly different method.

Coming Up

I used my powdered orange zest in my wagon wheel cookies which will be featured alongside my Wild West cupcakes.

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42 comments on “Don’t Throw Away Your Citrus Rinds – Dry and Save Them For Recipes That Call for Zest”

  1. Virginia says:

    WOW – This is a GREAT idea. I have a food dehydrator that I have used to dry my herbs and it has worked wonderfully but I never thought to use it for this. Thanks for sharing this, I will certainly be giving it a try…with lemon peels as well.

  2. Satya says:

    wow its a wonderful idea …never got a thought like this ..thanks for sharing such a wonderful post


  3. Wow, that is really clever! I always skip recipes that have zest in them if I don’t have citrus on hand, but now my recipe options will be limitless! Thanks for the great tip.

  4. when I first started food blogging, I posted a herbed salt recipe, and said you can use sugar and zest the same way.
    This is much easier than my way, though not as sweet I would think.
    I wonder how well it would work in place of instant lemonade in Russian Friendship Tea

  5. Thanks for this wonderful idea!
    I have a grapefruit sitting in my fridge right now… Do you think it would work for grapefruit as well? Have you tried it, or heard anyone using grapefruit zest before?

    • lyn says:

      Nel, I think that grapefruit zest would be a delightful twist in many recipes! Let us know how it works out.

  6. Eliana says:

    What a genius idea. Thanks so mcuh for sharing this wonderful tip with us.

  7. Scarlett says:

    Brilliant idea-thankyou!

  8. Stef says:

    Virginia – Oh, that’s a perfect use for a dehydrator. I don’t have one, but my dad does and he brings us dried bananas whenever we see him. So yummy!

    NEL – I haven’t done it with a grapefruit, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Go for it!

  9. What a great idea, I always get rid of them. Now I know what to do.
    Thanks for sharing.

  10. Carolyn says:

    What a great idea, I’m definitely going to use this tip.

  11. Holly says:

    Since I always seem to end up with cuts on my fingers and or knuckles from either making zest or grating cheese (or zucchini) this idea would really come in handy and be great time saver in the long run. I will definitely have to try this out 

  12. Joy says:

    I made extract with the rinds before. I would never think of making them into powder.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Awesome post! Will for sure use that idea. :)

  14. Peggy says:

    This is definitely a great tip! Too many times have I just thrown rinds away or never used the fruit before it went bad… never again! This was extremely helpful!

  15. Barbara says:

    I like candied orange peel, too!

  16. Elizabeth says:

    what a fantastic idea.. waste not, want not!

  17. delicieux says:

    This is a fantastic idea!! I hate the thought of wasting things, especially beautiful orange zest. Great post. :)

  18. Jennifer says:

    This is brilliant! Great use to waste not and perfect for those times I wish I had some citrus action for recipes! Thanks :)

  19. What a great idea!



  20. Michelle says:

    I zest the fruit with a microplane and leave the zest out on a dish until it’s dried out; overnight usually does the trick. Then pop it into a zipper bag and toss it in the freezer. The zest dries faster and it’s less work.

    It is harder to measure, though, since the dried zest is fluffy. Then again, I’ve never actually measured fresh zest. I just put as much as I feel like in a recipe. More is better!

    I love using every usable part of food, especially when I spring for the organic stuff.

  21. Ardna says:

    so cool! totally going to try this one!

  22. This is sucha good idea. I feel so bad about all the wasted citrus that have ended in the bin. Never again!retun

  23. Annie says:

    This is awesome! Do you think I can use a food processor to grind it after dry?

    Thanks for sharing!

  24. Stef says:

    Annie – Yes, that’s how I did it.

  25. Amy says:

    Does this work as well with Meyer Lemons?

  26. Jenny says:

    I have found that freezing the zest works really well too. I just use my micro-planar and zest my oranges and lemons. I then put about 1-2 tsp amount into each section of an ice cube tray. And freeze them overnight. Putting them in the ice cube trays makes it so you have little chunks of zest in about the right quantities for recipes. I then throw the zest cubes into a freezer ziploc bag for use when I need it. We use the cubes all the time and are very happy with how much flavor stays in tact in the freezer.

  27. Stef says:

    Amy – It definitely would!

  28. Great idea! You think tangerine zest can also be good?

  29. Shari says:

    you know it’s silly to be afraid of bugs, right? (they hate citrus peels)

  30. Maiyim says:

    You completely forgot one very important point: This should ONLY be made with peels from organically grown fruit, or you are eating an awful lot of known to be dangerous chemicals and waxes.

  31. I love this idea! I’ll bet the dried zest is good stirred into hot tea.

  32. vegashag says:

    I don’t have a grinder or mortar/pestle – would the blender work?

  33. Anonymous says:

    Good idea; I usually freeze the peels and later boil to freshen my home especially in the winter.


  34. What a brilliant idea! I agree with Maiyim though – you should only use organic, unwaxed fruit peels. I have also just discovered you can make tomato powder out of tomato skins too – I wonder what other skins make a good powder…

  35. Judy says:

    How do you keep the rinds until you have enough to dry? Ziplock or jar in the fridge or start a freezer container and add until the container is full?

  36. Heather B House Mama says:

    What do you use to store the powdered zest in?

  37. This is such a great idea! I can’t believe I never thought about it! Can’t wait to try this when I have citrus fruits lying around. Thanks for sharing and great inspiration

  38. Hi there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it is really informative.
    I am gonna watch out for brussels. I will appreciate if you continue this in future.
    Numerous people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  39. Sandy says:

    Simply Brilliant idea!

  40. lisa says:

    Unfortunately, this method does not yield dried zest. The difference between true zest and peels is that zest contains essential oils. When you dry/dehdryate the FRESH peels, you destroy the essential oils. The end product in this example is dried/ground orange PEELS, not zest. It can’t be zest without the essential oils.

    Freezing peels is the only way to preserve peels you plan to use for zest. When needed, thaw the peels and use a zester to remove the outer layer.

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