12 Ways to Use and Preserve Citrus Fruits


* This article contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.

 

Learn how to preserve citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and limes and have them on hand whenever you need them. #preservecitrus #preservelemons #preserveoranges #citrusrecipes

There are so many ways to use and preserve lemons, oranges, grapefruits and limes. Learn how to preserve citrus fruits and use them in creative new ways!

When it comes to citrus, we often waste more of it than we actually use. We might squeeze a slice of lemon or lime in our drink or over our food, or it might even just act as decoration on our glass before being discarded. Oranges and grapefruits tend to get eaten, so their flesh is usually not wasted, but most people rarely think to use their peels.

But citrus fruits are surprisingly versatile and easy to preserve. And they can be used in all sorts of creative ways that you may not have discovered yet.

Plus, citrus fruits also contain amazingly beneficial vitamins that can help heal us when we’re feeling sick and rundown. So it never hurts to have some on hand for when we really needs it.

 

Can’t I just buy fruit from the store when I need it?

While most people run to the store every time they need something, you and I are not most people. Oh no friend… We are modern homesteaders.

We’re a special breed, and one thing that sets us apart is that we are always thinking about preparing for the future and about stocking up when the things are abundant (and cheap!)

When it comes to citrus fruits, if you live in a place where you can grow them yourself, then you’ll probably have more than you can handle fresh when they’re in season. Knowing how to preserve them will help ensure nothing goes to waste.

And if you can’t grow them yourself? Well then you can stock up when they’re in season and on sale and use them all year long!

 

Always Be Prepared with Citrus On Hand

Now, technically you could run to the store and pay top dollar every time you want a lemon or lime, but then again, what if the store shelves were bare? 

I remember one season a few years ago when limes were in very low supply and cost a fortune due to drought in Mexico and wars over who was controlling the lime trade. (Yes, if you rely on grocery-store fruit and vegetables, you are at the mercy of everything from global climate issues to trade deals to gangs and politics). 

Knowing how to preserve citrus fruit and always having some on hand means that you won’t be without in your home regardless of what’s happening outside your door. And that is really the ultimate goal when it comes to being prepared.

But I think the best part about using and preserving every part of citrus fruit is that it’s incredibly easy to do and the end products are super versatile and good for use in everything from food and drinks to body products and household cleaners.

So grab your fruit bowl and a few basic kitchen tools and let’s get to work with this list of 12 ways to use and preserve your citrus fruits.

 

12 Ways to Use & Preserve Citrus Fruits

Before you get started, always try your best to begin with organic fruits (and scrub them clean!) While this isn’t imperative for every recipe or use, it’s especially important when using the peels for consumption. And if you can afford the little bit extra, organic is always the best option.

Learn how to preserve citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and limes and have them on hand whenever you need them. #preservecitrus #preservelemons #preserveoranges #citrusrecipes

 

1. Save the zest

To zest, either grate or thinly peel the outer layer of the peel of the citrus fruit with a fine grater, a pairing knife or a vegetable peeler. Avoid the bitter, white pith. You can either use the fresh zest or preserve it for later by letting it dry.

To dry, spread zest in a thin layer over a baking tray and leave to air dry in an area with low humidity. Once dry, transfer to a jar or other small airtight container and store in a cool, dark place.

Substitute dried zest for fresh zest in any recipe that calls for it or add it to homemade bathroom cleaner.

The zest will keep for a long time, but may begin to lose potency after a few months.

 

2. Dry the peels

Dried peels can be used in so many ways, from making tea to medicine to bath and body products, so they are definitely worth saving! Just like with the zest, make sure to buy organic and wash well before use. Then, when you peel your citrus fruit to use the flesh, save the peels by breaking them up into smaller pieces and drying them for later use.

You can air dry your peels, use a dehydrator or bake them on the lowest setting in your oven. Once dried, transfer peels to a jar or container and store in a cool, dark, dry place.

 

3. Make a citrus cleaner

Another super simple way to use up your citrus peels is to make a vinegar infusion that can be used as an all-purpose cleaner. Just take your fresh peels and pop them in a large jar (I use quart-sized Mason jars) and completely cover with white vinegar. I usually have a jar going so that anytime anyone eats an orange or uses a lemon or lime, I just pop the peel (and whatever flesh remains) in the jar. 

Let sit for a few weeks (I usually wait at least 6 weeks), then strain the vinegar into a bottle and discard the peels. Store in a cool, dark place. Dilute with an equal amount of water and transfer to a spray bottle when ready to use. 

Use on countertops, floors, sinks, tubs and toilets and just about any other surface. Just don’t use it on marble as vinegar can stain marble.

 

4. Preserve the juice

You can juice citrus fruits and store in the fridge for up to two weeks or in the freezer for several months. If freezing, pour fresh-squeezed juice into ice cube trays and, once frozen, transfer to freezer bags.

While I have read that it’s possible to can lemon and grapefruit juice, orange juice can be bitter when canned and I’ve never seen a recipe for home-canned lime juice. I recommend the freezer method for long-term preservation, but if you do any citrus fruit canning I would love to hear about how it turned out! Let me know in the comments section.

Learn how to preserve citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and limes and have them on hand whenever you need them. #preservecitrus #preservelemons #preserveoranges #citrusrecipes

 

5. Dehydrate sliced citrus

A food dehydrator is great for drying because it significantly speeds up the process over air drying and won’t burn your fruits.

To dehydrate citrus, slice fruit into thin (roughly ¼-inch thick) rounds and discard seeds. Place in a single layer on dehydrator tray and dry at 135ºF for about 6-10 hours (depending on your dehydrator and the thickness of your fruits). Once dry, store in an airtight jar in a cool, dark place. Rehydrate slices and add to various dishes (or simply add them as-is to dishes with liquid or sauce and bake), or add dried slices to homemade potpourri. 

My favourite way to use dried lemon and orange slices is to grind them up and make this Homemade Vitamin C Powder. I mix it with hot water and a little honey when I’m sick or feeling rundown.

 

6. Make canned preserves

Turn your extra citrus fruits into marmalade (which uses both the juice and the peels) or make citrus curd (lemon curd is the most popular and it is damn delicious!). 

Note: Lemon curd (or any type of curd) needs to be stored in the fridge because of the eggs and dairy. You can water bath can curd and store in the fridge for up to 3 months or simply store in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 to 2 weeks.

Of course, there are lots of other preserves and canning recipes that feature citrus fruits. Check out the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving for tons of great recipes!

Learn how to preserve citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and limes and have them on hand whenever you need them. #preservecitrus #preservelemons #preserveoranges #citrusrecipes

 

7. Candy the peels

Candied citrus peels do use a fair amount of sugar, but they are still more nutritious than store-bought candy. They’re also super easy to make. 

First, zest the citrus peel into large chunks using a peeler or a pairing knife. Next, put one cup of peels into a pot and cover with water. Bring water to a boil and then reduce heat. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Drain and then repeat the process two more times. Then, heat a 1/2 cup of sugar with 1/4 cup of water until boiling. Add peel to sugar-water and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the peels with a slotted spoon, dust with a little more sugar and let air dry on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or dry in a dehydrator.

Once completely dry, transfer to an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place for up to 3 months.

 

8. Make a citrus extract

Make a citrus peel extract by combining fresh or dried citrus peels with vodka. Place peels in a glass jar (I use pint or quart-sized Mason jars), and cover with vodka. Place in a cool, dark place for 4 to 6 weeks, shaking occasionally. The vodka will begin to turn the colour of the citrus peel.

Taste the extract after a few weeks and if you’re happy with the flavour, strain and transfer liquid to an airtight bottle. If you would prefer a stronger extract (or if it still tastes too “boozey”) let it sit for a while longer, checking on it every week or two.

This is very shelf stable as the vodka acts as a preservative. Once you have your extract you can use it in baking, your home medicine cabinet or even use it in place of regular vodka or witch hazel in homemade room spray.

 

9. Make infused citrus oil

Oil infused with citrus peels can be used to make all sorts of scrumptious body products, including citrus sugar scrub, soaps and body butters. Or use it to add flavour to homemade salsa dressings!

To make, use dried citrus peels (the water content in fresh peels can turn the oil rancid). Place dried peels in a jar and cover with oil. Place in a cool, dark place and let sit for 4-6 weeks or longer. Strain and store in an airtight bottle.

 

10. Feed citrus fruits to your livestock

Chickens, pigs, goats, sheep and even cows can benefit from a little citrus in their diet. While you should take care not to feed livestock too much citrus, adding a little bit into their diet can be good for them.

Citrus is full of vitamins and the essential oils in the peels contain antimicrobial properties that keep livestock healthy.

Learn how to preserve citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and limes and have them on hand whenever you need them. #preservecitrus #preservelemons #preserveoranges #citrusrecipes

 

11. Add citrus peels to your compost

Citrus peels are a great addition to your compost as they provide beneficial nutrients and their strong smell can help to keep scavengers at bay. The peels do take a little longer than other fruits to break down, so it helps if you break them into smaller pieces first.

While adding citrus to your compost is a wise idea, you may run into some problems if you are vermicomposting. Worms are not fond of citrus, so they won’t eat them. Keep citrus fruits to your traditional compost pile and reap the benefits in nutrient-rich soil for your garden.

Learn how to preserve citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and limes and have them on hand whenever you need them. #preservecitrus #preservelemons #preserveoranges #citrusrecipes

 

12. Freeze citrus fruits whole

If you don’t have the time to deal with processing your citrus fruits, just stick them in the freezer whole! Although you won’t want to use the peels from these fruits when they thaw, they can still be juiced at a later date. You can even heat them up in the microwave for a few seconds at a time until they warm up, and this helps their juices to flow better.

I love that this method requires zero processing, however I personally prefer other methods because I tend to forget about them in the freezer and I try to use the microwave as little as possible, so it takes a bit of forethought if I want to use frozen citrus fruit. But some people swear by using this method. You’ll never know what works for you until you try.

 

How to Use Preserved Citrus

Once you’ve created a few of the above ingredients, you can use them in your cooking or add them to all sorts of home and body products. Since citrus fruits (especially lemons) cut through grease and grime and have antibacterial properties, they work especially well in homemade cleaners.

So there you have it! Even though citrus fruits are often thought of as being one of the more difficult things to preserve, they are actually quite versatile and can be used in so many different ways.

What do you usually do with your extra citrus fruits? Have you tried any of these preservation methods?

Let me know in the comments below!

Wishing you homemade, homegrown, homestead happiness 🙂

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave


CATEGORIES
HOMESTEADING
REAL FOOD
NATURAL LIVING

3 Comments

  1. Jody

    An old Florida thing is you take a cup of lime or lemon juice add a tablespoon full of salt. Let it sit for a month. I like to keep mine in the refrigerator but some people leave it out. use it as a condiment on fish or meat.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Oh that’s an interesting idea. I’ve never heard of that. Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  2. Malinda

    This was a huge help! Didn’t know I could freeze the whole fruit. Love the juice in ice cube tray tip too. We just bought several citrus trees.
    Thank you very much

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
You Might Also Like
DIY Peppermint Sugar Scrub Recipe

DIY Peppermint Sugar Scrub Recipe

* This article contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.   This DIY peppermint sugar scrub is one of the quickest, easiest and frugal(ist?) homemade gifts ever. Plus you can make it entirely out of things you probably...

read more

Easy Homemade Chai Tea Mix

Easy Homemade Chai Tea Mix

* This article contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.   I’ll be honest… I’m not a tea drinker. In fact, I could probably go the rest of my life without drinking another cup of tea and I’d be alright. But take away my...

read more

How many ways can you think of to put a greenhouse to use in the winter?

Sure, greenhouses are a great way to extend your gardening season into fall, or to create an even warmer microclimate for heat-loving crops like tomatoes and peppers in the summer, but they also provide a warm space to grow food (and ornamental flowers and plants) right through the winter months.

But that’s not the only way you can use a greenhouse year-round! To learn more about how to put an existing greenhouse to good use in the winter (or why you should consider adding a greenhouse to your property if you haven’t yet), be sure to check out the Greenhouse Effect feature in the Winter issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine, written by contributor Lori Austin of @hollandgirlgfdf.

Subscribe to Modern Homesteading Magazine via the link in my bio or go to http://modernhomesteadingmagazine.com to gain instant access to this issue along with our entire digital library of past issues!

Do you have a greenhouse or are you considering one for your homestead? How do you put your greenhouse to use during the winter months?

Most importantly, have you subscribed to Modern Homesteading Magazine yet???

#wintergarden #wintergardening #greenhouse #wintergreenhouse #greenhouselife #greenhouses
...

Every year during the month of January, I challenge myself to eat as much as possible from the food that we’ve stored over the past year.

Three years ago I decided to make this a public challenge and invited anyone who wanted to participate to join me. Every year, hundreds of other homesteaders (and non-homesteaders alike!) join me in doing what has now become an annual Homestead Pantry Challenge, and this year is no different!

As homesteaders, so much of our year is spent planning and preserving food for the winter, and so it seems fitting to plan winter meals around the food we’ve worked hard to store.

Not to mention, January tends to be the time of year when most of us are feeling tapped out from the Holidays and ready to save some money, get organized and set new goals for the new year.

Kicking off the new year with a pantry challenge is a great way to accomplish all of the above goals and is, in essence, a celebration of all the hard work we’ve put into our food storage and preservation over the past year, while also showing us where we need to focus (or refocus) our efforts in the coming year.

If you haven’t joined the 2022 Homestead Pantry Challenge yet, it’s totally free to join and is VERY customizable, so even if you don’t want to eat down your entire pantry, you can still use it to get organized and put your creativity in the kitchen to the test!

In past years this challenge has been hosted mostly here on Instagram, but this year I’m hosting it via email as well for anyone who isn’t on Instagram. Due to some other personal reasons, the challenge won’t be as Instagram heavy this year, so all of the instructions, assignments, details and resources will be delivered via email when you sign up for the challenge!

You can sign up for free via the link in my bio, or by going to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/pantry-challenge/

If you’re just looking for some tips to help you eat from your pantry (at any time of year!), save money and plan meals around what you’ve got, I’ve also got a full blog post with 8 tips to help you eat from your pantry (link also in bio).

Are you participating in the Homestead Pantry Challenge this year?
...

What’s your signature holiday move?

In the winter issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine, @homemakerchicpodcast hosts @shayeelliott and @parisiennefarmgirl share tips and tricks to help you become the CEO of Christmas in your own home.

From menu planning to decor to packing it all up and starting with a fresh, clean slate come January 1st (or December 27th;), get homemaking advice from the pros for the holidays (and beyond) in the latest issue!

Link in bio to subscribe @thehouseandhomestead or go to https://modernhomesteadingmagazine.com to read the full interview and much more!
...

I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of looking out the window and seeing THIS!

For years I lived in places that had kitchens with no windows over the sink. I dreamed of having a home where I could stand in the kitchen doing dishes and look out at the world. And not just at any world, but at the NATURAL world.

I feel so at home tucked in the forest. It’s good energy out here. And it’s always beautiful, whether I’m looking out at vibrantly coloured flowers or leaves or at the Earth blanketed in snow.

My life’s a lot more mundane and humble than it used to be in my younger years when I spent most of my time travelling the world, seeing new places and meeting new friends. But today most of my joy comes from being in this place with the birds and forest critters and chickens and rabbits (and of course my family and fur babies that I share this house with!) I don’t currently feel the need to explore the world at this point in my life because there’s enough to look at right outside my window.

Today this view is what I’m grateful for. What are you grateful for today? (Remember, there’s nothing too small to be grateful for:)
...

Winter often gets a bad rap for being the coldest, darkest, dreariest season of the year, when life as we knew it in the summer ceases to exist.

But winter offers us a much-needed reprieve from the busy-ness of the rest of the year;

A time to slow down, rest, reflect and dream;

A time to give ourselves over to the projects, hobbies, crafts and activities that we just don’t seem to have time for the rest of the year;

A time to devour books, soak up knowledge, learn new skills and sharpen old ones.

The winter issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine showcases just a few of the many unique activities, projects and opportunities that this season affords us the time to immerse ourselves in.

Here’s what you’ll find in this issue:

✨ Inspiration and ideas to help you make the most of winter on the homestead
🌱 The many ways to put a greenhouse to use all year long
🥂Homemaking tips for the holidays (and beyond!) with Homemaker Chic podcast hosts Shaye Elliott & Angela Reed
🍴Holiday recipes & comfort foods, featuring Honey Taffy, Mulled Wine and Winter Squash
🪵 Winter woodworking tutorials with The Humble Handyman and Anne of All Trades
❄️ And more!!!

To read the full issue AND get instant access to our entire library of past issues (26 value-packed issues and counting!), click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to https://modernhomesteadingmagazine.com

P.S. When you subscribe during the month of December, you’ll also get a coupon code for a free one-year subscription that you can gift to someone you love!

Give the gift of self-sufficiency this Christmas —> https://modernhomesteadingmagazine.com
...

We’re all familiar with eggnog, but have you ever wondered what “nog” is anyway, or how this decadent holiday drink came to be?

The general consensus is that eggnog originated in England in the 17th Century and was made with eggs, milk and some sort of alcohol (aka. “nog”).

It may have even been enjoyed earlier than this, as a similar beverage called posset (a hot, milky, ale-based drink) has origins dating back to the 13th century.

As I was researching this topic, I found at least one source that claims eggnog was created by mixing alcohol with eggs and milk earlier in the season when egg and milk production was at a high. The alcohol was used to preserve the dairy products so that they could be consumed during the winter months when egg and milk production was low.

It was originally made with sherry or brandy, but when eggnog reached America it was typically spiked with rum because rum was easier to come by. Eventually some people started substituting American whiskey.

Nowadays we can drink eggnog with or without alcohol, but traditionally eggnog was always an alcoholic drink that wealthy folks (who could afford milk and eggs and alcohol) would use to toast to their prosperity.

Eggnog has remained a favourite beverage around Christmas time; One that most of us are accustomed to buying in a carton from the grocery store. But like most processed foods, store-bought eggnog is often loaded with additives like high fructose corn syrup and thickeners.

This holiday season, why not make your own eggnog instead?

All you need are fresh eggs, milk, cream, sugar and a little nutmeg (and an optional cinnamon stick) to garnish.

If eggnog is on your list of holiday must-haves but you’d rather avoid the processed grocery store stuff and make your own with fresh ingredients, you can grab the full recipe via the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead or by visiting https://thehouseandhomestead.com/old-fashioned-homemade-eggnog-recipe/

What’s your position on eggnog? Do you love it or hate it? And if you spike it with alcohol, what alcohol do you prefer?
...

© The House & Homestead | All Rights Reserved | Legal