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

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Removing the rinds from citrus fruits you’re juicing and preserving the rinds in powder form helps to eliminate food waste and also guarantees that you’ll always have citrus flavoring on hand for recipes!

I can’t believe the number of citrus fruit rinds that I’ve discarded 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 longer will I need to make a special trip to the market for just a touch of citrus flavor.

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

First, start by buying organic fruit or fruit not sprayed with fungicides or pesticides. Wash and dry it thoroughly.

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 150 F) for about 4 hours or until the rinds are dry are curled.

Finely grind the dried rinds in a spice grinder [paid link] or with a mortar and pestle [paid link].

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. It involves a slightly different method, and it’s worth reading about.

I used my powdered orange zest in my wagon wheel cookies.

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  1. Michelesays:

    Do you need to remove the pith before you dry the fruit , also do you need to remove the pith at all ??

  2. Amanda Edgecombsays:

    How long does the powder last?

  3. Andrewsays:

    How can you recommend such a recipe nowadays full of chemistry used for fruit growth and preservation? The skin is toxic and certainly not recommended as in the old days.

    • Patsays:

      Use organic produce or fruit from someone’s personal fruit tree.

    • Michelesays:

      Well you are supposed to know to use organic fruits.

    • JustAThoughtsays:

      Like this article. Just a comment on a comment. You should NEVER assume people know what you know. When giving advice/instruction/direction be as specifically detailed as possible (like the 1 tsp of zest = 1 tsp of powder). I think indicating IN the directions to use ONLY organic oranges is an appropriate recommendation, not a criticism (we can’t think of everything; comment forums helps)..

  4. Ann Howertonsays:

    Sounds great. I believe it could be frozen in an airtight container.

  5. Nancysays:

    I have a Harvest Right freeze dryer and a huge orange tree. I save all the peels (and pith) and freeze dry them, then grind into a powder. The powder is great to use in baking. It is a misconception that the pith is bitter. It is actually good for you: “Orange pith tends to be chewy, but it’s tasteless not bitter. … Although it’s certainly not where all the nutrients are, the pith can be good for you. It is high in fiber that may help lower cholesterol levels and contains as much vitamin C as the fruit itself.”

  6. Deborahsays:

    I’ve always saved orange and lemon rinds, but I usually just freeze them. When I need some I take it out, thaw and use my rasp to grate it finely. Making a powder will be easier to store. Thanks.

  7. Debbe Bentleysays:

    I’m definitely going to try this! Thank you,

  8. Karensays:

    Can you a dehydrator?

  9. andrea fishersays:

    You will compost “one of these days”? throwing a few rinds away is minor compared to the larger pic. Just get a tumbler, easy. but the tip is good.

  10. Sherrie Graetersays:

    Citrus zest is always a great way to get your daily dose of Vitamin C too! You can put it in capsules or mix it in your healthy smoothies.

  11. lisasays:

    I bought a great zester, So I do not save the rinds. I air dry the zest, store them in a freezer bag.

  12. Judysays:

    Mix a little of the dried rind in sea salt and put out on the table when serving to be sprinkled on.

    I love a little of the lime salt sprinkled over a watermelon spear. Makes a great appetizer.

  13. Diane Morrissays:

    I’ve read that citrus is one of the things NOT to put in compost. I think it is probably because citrus does discourage “bugs” and likely the organisms that act on your compost. Might want to check into this before you try it.

  14. Valeriesays:

    I love this idea!! I have two orange trees. One blood orange, the other naval oranges. I’m up to my ears in marmalade and have been looking for ways to use my oranges. Thank you!

  15. Beasays:

    Great idea! I think it would really add a boost of flavor to my homemade orange marmalade!!

  16. Floridasays:

    idea I use lots of citrus best way to use in lots of recipes

    Thanks a lot.

  17. Sandy Vaughansays:

    Try using lime rinds minced after drying in an I oil spice bottle. Add some crouse ground pepper. Tighten the lid and you have a new mix to put on chicken and fish! I got the idea after buying a bottle only to never find it again! Tangerine could work well too!

  18. Laura McCloskeysays:

    “Don’t Throw Away Your Citrus Rinds – Dry and Save Them For Recipes That Call for Zest! Peel off the rind before eating or juicing your fruit. Try not to get too much of the white – it’s bitter.” This part is easy to follow, but the peel without the pith, the white stuff, is impossible. How do you do it?

  19. Loissays:

    Fabulous idea. Thanks so much.

  20. Sheila V.says:

    I am a composter, but this is a great idea! Thanks, I can’t wait to try it!

    • Diane Morrissays:

      I’ve read that citrus is one of the things NOT to put in compost. I think it is probably because citrus does discourage “bugs” and likely the organisms that act on your compost. Might want to check into this before you try it.

  21. extexanwannabeesays:

    What a great idea! Dried grapefruit peel in the secondary ferment for grapefruit beer.

  22. Knickisays:

    As a horticulturist, I’m sorry to say Lisa is mistaken re: citrus peels; that is exactly where the oil is located. If the peels aren’t dried or frozen the oil in the peel will eventually become rancid or moldy or both. In some cultures(middle eastern) the peels are chopped before drying and used for many dishes. I use them for example in chicken soup with
    dried curry leaves. Not the curry mix which sometimes contains cinnamon (I’m allergic to it)but the curry leaves which have been dried. Fantastic flavor. Why not make your own version of the curry mix? Much better when it contains the flavors you love.

  23. lisasays:

    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.

    • Marensays:

      Not sure what a zester is. But, I think that what “they” say about citrus fruits in compost should have been researched by the commentators. Also, you perceive pith as not being distateful. Since some people do, make your comment as, ‘in my opinion,’ so we know it’s not necessarily a scientific fact.
      As far as other wonderful uses:
      Try them to freshen in your garbage disposal. That’s not a culinary use, buy does handle onion, garlic, and coffee ground smell for us non-composters. I sometimes has to soften up first.

  24. Sandysays:

    Simply Brilliant idea!

  25. MissFoodFairysays:

    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

  26. Heather B House Mamasays:

    What do you use to store the powdered zest in?

  27. Judysays:

    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?

  28. Zoe @ecothriftysays:

    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…

  29. Anonymoussays:

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


  30. vegashagsays:

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

    • Stefsays:

      It depends on the blender. I think it would work in something powerful, like a Vitamix. But, I’m not sure about a regular blender.

  31. Monica @ TheYummyLifesays:

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

  32. Maiyimsays:

    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.

  33. Sharisays:

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

  34. Valentina Capellinosays:

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

  35. Stefsays:

    Amy – It definitely would!

  36. Jennysays:

    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.

  37. Amysays:

    Does this work as well with Meyer Lemons?

  38. Stefsays:

    Annie – Yes, that’s how I did it.

  39. Anniesays:

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

    Thanks for sharing!

  40. Joudie's Mood Foodsays:

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

  41. Ardnasays:

    so cool! totally going to try this one!

  42. Michellesays:

    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.

  43. Rosa's Yummy Yumssays:

    What a great idea!



  44. Jennifersays:

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

  45. delicieuxsays:

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

  46. Elizabethsays:

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

  47. Barbarasays:

    I like candied orange peel, too!

  48. Peggysays:

    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!

  49. Anonymoussays:

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

  50. Joysays:

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

  51. Hollysays:

    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 

  52. Carolynsays:

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

  53. Pink Little Cakesays:

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

  54. Stefsays:

    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!

  55. Scarlettsays:

    Brilliant idea-thankyou!

  56. Elianasays:

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

  57. NEL, the batter bakersays:

    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?

    • lynsays:

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

  58. InfoxicatingLadysays:

    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…

  59. The College Bakersays:

    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.

  60. Satyasays:

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


  61. Virginiasays:

    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.

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