Tuesday Tip: Make and store lemon (or orange) peel

22 Jan

ImageMy microplane is one of my favorite kitchen gadgets! It enables me to very quickly get that “rind of half a lemon” — or orange — that many recipes call for. Before I bought it, I would use a regular box grater, which was less than satisfactory because the rind tended to be mushy, and half of it would get stuck in the grater, which was then very difficult to clean.

If you’re like me, though, you often don’t have an orange or lemon on hand when the recipe calls for rind — or peel or zest, it’s all the same in recipes. I used to buy little jars of dried lemon peel and orange peel in the spice aisle of the supermarket. A jar containing 42 grams — less than 1.5 ounces — cost about $6. Then I realized how fast, easy and relatively inexpensive it was to make my own. I buy a few lemons when they’re on sale mainly for the peel.

Use a microplane to take the zest off all the lemons and leave the zest on a piece of waxed paper overnight. The next day it’s dry enough to store — I keep it in the same bottle the overpriced store-bought lemon peel came in. (The zest from four good-sized lemons will fill half the jar.) It can last many months. Use it in the same quantities you would use fresh zest.

As an added bonus, juice the lemons and use the juice instead of that stuff in the green bottle. My husband likes to drink hot water with lemon juice and says there’s a noticeable difference in the taste. In the summer, you can make fresh lemonade — yum!

Make sure the lemons are at room temperature before you start. After you take off the zest, roll each lemon on a counter before you juice it; this releases more juice.

My recipes don’t seem to call for grated orange rind as often as lemon, but when I start to run low, I just zest an orange, dry the zest and save it in my little bottle. Then I just eat the orange or use it in a salad.

By the way, an average lemon will yield 2 to 3 tablespoons of juice and 2 to 3 teaspoons of zest.

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