12 Ways to Use and Preserve Citrus Fruits


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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 🙂

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CATEGORIES
HOMESTEADING
REAL FOOD
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4 Comments

  1. nancy e stone

    I made the lemon and salt combination and I’ve had it for about 4 months. I noticed the juice is real thick . Are they still good. I know their real salty. I’m going to freeze them and put them through my new “ ice creamie “ and make a thick slurry. Wish me luck. Thanks.

    Reply
  2. 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
  3. 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

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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. 
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This is why I do what I do and why I share it with you on a regular basis; I WANT TO EMPOWER YOU TOO!

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• Preparedness tips, tricks and advice to help you be ready for anything on the homestead (and in life!)
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• Drool-worthy recipes that feature garlic as the star!
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• Advice on how to learn and grow from perceived homesteading “failures”

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When I first started homesteading, I had a burning desire to become more self-sufficient and live a more sustainable life.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a rebel at heart, and learning how to homestead and become more self-reliant was a way for me to “throw a proverbial middle finger to the system” and live life on my own terms.

As a teenager, I was the girl who drove around town with punk rock music blaring from my car, Misfits sticker on the back and studs around my wrists. I felt misunderstood and angsty and like I desperately didn’t fit in with the world I grew up in.

I always knew in my soul that I wanted something different; Something more.

Today I’m the mama with stretch marks on my belly and battle scars on my heart. I’m the woman who gardens and cans food and makes her own tinctures and believes in something greater than herself and fights every day to stay free in a world that feels increasingly engineered to keep us hopelessly dependent.

Today I feel whole and at peace, and connected to a higher power and a higher purpose. I feel like I’ve finally found the place where I belong.

This journey has been about so much more than homesteading for me, and I've learned, lost, gained and loved so much more than I ever could have imagined.

Because, as I've said before, homesteading doesn't happen in a vacuum. Life is always happening at the same time.

This is the full, raw and unfiltered story of my homesteading journey, and how I've gained so much more than a pantry full of food along the way.

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I’ve always known in my heart and soul that we were meant to have a girl and a boy. I know, it sounds cliché and very “nuclear family,” but years ago I saw a psychic who told me I would have a girl who loved to be centre stage and had a personality larger than life, very much how our daughter has turned out!

She also said I would have a boy who would be much more introverted and in tune with nature and with his own intuition. That’s yet to be seen, but I’ve always had this unwavering vision of a son and a daughter that fit these descriptions, and my heart has been set on a son ever since we had Evelyn.

Of course, things went sideways for a few years. Shortly after Evelyn was born, I became pregnant again, but we made the heartbreaking decision to terminate that pregnancy at 24 weeks due to a severe medical diagnosis. We lost our son, Phoenix Rain on June 15, 2018. Our hearts were shattered and have never fully healed.

Over the next few years, I had 3 more early miscarriages. None of the doctors knew what was causing them as most didn’t seem to have any sort of genetic explanation. We were told it was “something environmental,” but weren’t given any clues as to what that could be.

After pushing to see several specialists last year (after our most recent loss), and being told once again that there was “nothing wrong with me,” I finally got another opinion and found out I had something called Chronic Endometritis: A low-grade infection in my uterus that I believe in my heart was caused by my c-section with our daughter; A c-section I didn’t want and probably didn’t need, but felt I needed because I was under pressure to make a decision before the surgeon went off duty.

I’ll never know for sure, but when I pushed for more testing and finally got a simple round of antibiotics, the endometritis cleared up. I got pregnant again almost immediately and so far we now have a healthy baby boy on the way.

(Continued in comments…)
...

556 43

We’re living through interesting times. Many people have even used the term “unprecedented times,” and while that may be true in that there has perhaps never been another time in history when we’ve faced so many existential threats all at once (ie. a global pandemic, climate change, political divisions, AI advancing at an incredible rate, cyber attacks, nuclear threats, globalization, food shortages, supply chain issues, hyperinflation, social media and the age of information/misinformation, etc. etc. all converging at once). But despite all of this, we are not the first generation(s) of humans to face hardships and threats of great magnitude, and in fact we’ve had it better than any other previous generations for most of our lives, especially here in the west.

The fact is, there are lots of things we can do to ensure we’re not sitting ducks when these threats come knocking at our door. But it takes action on our part, not waiting around for someone else to fix things or take care of us.

In the Summer issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine, I sat down with The Grow Network’s Marjory Wildcraft to talk all about the realities of our current climate, including worsening inflation and looming global food shortages, as well as what every day people like you and I can actually DO to improve our food security, become more self-sufficient, care for our families and communities and ensure our own survival and wellbeing even in difficult and uncertain times like these.

While I don’t believe in fear mongering, I do believe in acknowledging hard truths and not burying your head in the sand. That being said, things may very well get worse before they get better, and we would all do well to start learning the necessary skills, stocking up on essential resources and preparing now while there’s still time.

Check out the full interview in the summer issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine. Link in bio @anna.sakawsky to subscribe or go to www.modernhomesteadingmagazine.com to subscribe or login and read the current issue.

#foodshortages #selfsufficiency #selfreliance #foodsecurity #foodsecurityisfreedom #homesteading #growyourownfood #fightinflation #stayfree
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