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Dehydrating citrus zest, will this work?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

So I had this thought of trying to dehydrate citrus zests so I could add them to spice rubs, or use them as a seasoning in general. My question is though, will there be any flavor left in it once it's dehydrated? Or will the dehydration degrade the flavorful oils too much?

post #2 of 10

Oh no way. I make a beautiful citrus powder by combining the zests of lemon, lime and orange then drying them in a low oven on a parchment lined pan. Then I pulverize them in a spice grinder. I keep this concoction in a jar in the pantry. The flavor is intense and wonderful. Just opening the jar gives me goosebumps  :)

post #3 of 10

Normally this is done with orange, but I guess you can make it with lemon. The flavor... and the color are incredibly intense!

Take off the zest (no white) and blanch them 2-3 times for a minute in boiling water. You need to change the water each time. This will eleminate the bitterness.

Cook it again for a minute or so, this time in a 50/50 sugar/watermixture. You can eat these! (BTW, they are also used to dip in chocolate and are sold like this.)

Let dry in the oven at very low temperature 80°C. Grind in a small grinder (an electric coffeegrinder or spicegrinder) into a powder.

post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 

thanks guys I was thinking of using a food dehydrator but the oven method sounds easier

post #5 of 10

I just air dry it, a small plate on top of the fridge for about a week. Keep the strips large and without white pith. Crumble after drying as needed for use. Larger holds the flavor better than small bits to start with.


Any citrus works. Lemons, limes, grapefruit and of course oranges.

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

I was planning on using a microplane as its really the only means I have to zest. What tool would be a better option?


post #7 of 10

This is from my own cooking notes archive. Some of this was based on a book I read back in the 80s or maybe the early 90s, but the specific reference is lost to me now.

With a swivel vegetable peeler, lightly pare the zest form the citrus getting as little pith as possible. Lay any peels with white pith on a cutting board and cut or scrape away the white pith.  Dry this in a gas oven by the pilot light or in a dish in warm spot such as on top of the refrigerator for a couple of days.


roughly mill or break up the pieces for storage and freeze the zest chunks in spice jars. Lasts about 6 months but varies with how low your freezer is set.


You can use these chunks in stews or soups and such.


Or finely mill and combine with other spicess


Orange dust marries well with warm spices like chili powder, cumin or cinnamon. Mix about 1:1 with the ground spices. Or use more diluted with thyme, basil, oregano. Often perceived by diners as adding an asian or latin flavor to the dish.


Lemon dust marries well with sage, cinnamon, mustard and rosemary at about 1;1 ratio. Also try it at a ratio of 1(zest) to 2-3 with herbs like thyme, basil, oregnao. This is more reminiscent of Meditteranean region cuisines. Combine zest chunks with dried garlic chunks and pepper to create your own lemon pepper grind


Lime and peppers are good together as is some additional salt


Tangerine 1:1 with coriander seeds and grind together.


Grapefrult is said to be good 1:1 with brown sugar


I've thought about but haven't tried orange dust with fennel seeds or lemon/lime zest with celery seeds. Or Orange and lime with Achiote


Also fresh zest buried in sugar imparts good flavor to the sugar.


post #8 of 10

As long as you're playing with zest, you should have this one in your archive too.


Lemon Garlic Rosemary Salt


3 cloves garlic. Peel all three, mince two of them

1 cup kosher salt Diamond preferred, Use about 3/4 cup if using Morton Kosher

zest of two lemons, finely minced (microplane is perfect)

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves.


Combine everything in a food processor except the one whole garlic clove. Give it a few pulses to grind and combine everything. A mortar and pestle is fine too.

Put into a jar and bury the peeled garlic clove in the salt. Put on the lid and let it sit for a few days before using.


Your environment may make this clump more than is useful to you. if you have that problem, you can spread this on a baking sheet to dry in a low oven for a while. You may need to give it a brief whirl in the food processor after drying to break up any large clumps. Mortar and pestle is good again here too.



post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 

Wow great stuff folks, thanks for the ideas!


post #10 of 10

Hey, ChefRoss, you and I posted 2 very similar suggestions at exactly the same time.

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