How to Dry Citrus Zest (Lemon/Orange/Lime/Grapefruit)

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“I cannot say how much zest one fruit yields. This is more of a technique. I needed dried zest for Chipotle Dry Rub #461844 and found the store-bought stuff just ridiculously expensive. Citrus zest enlivens various recipes: tea blends, mulled cider, cakes, pies, oatmeal, cookies, jellies & preserves, use in place of extracts, in caking frostings, flavored honey & butters, meat rubs, sauces & bbq sauce or give as a gift. Cook time is drying time.”
48hrs 5mins

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. If at all possible, start with an organic orange, lemon or other citrus fruit. While organic is ideal, thoroughly washing and drying store-bought citrus fruit should make the fruit safe to eat. I listed 4 fruits, but would zest, dry and store separately.
  2. Using a microplane or zester, pull the zest across the surface of the fruit, working around any discolored or bad spots. Only pull off the colored portion leaving the white, bitter pith behind.
  3. Spread it in a single layer on a plate or waxed paper and leave it exposed to the air until it is dry enough to be brittle (a couple of days).
  4. Store the dried zest it in a sealed jar in a cool, dry place.
  5. Some Tips:
  6. Zest prior to cutting into the fruit. It's easier to handle and less messy. Make it a habit to zest prior to using the fruit to have a supply on hand.
  7. Rubbing between two fingers will release the oils prior to adding to a recipe.
  8. For an alternative process, use the zesting process over waxed paper, fold several times and freeze in a zip locked bag.
  9. Take advantage of fruit when it's highly available and low in price.
  10. Be careful while zesting. Tools are sharp.

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