6 Culinary Uses For Lemon Peel
Lemon is a highly popular (and healthy!) fruit. It can be used in various dishes, from savory to sweet. There isn’t much lemon can’t do – the fruit, juice, and peel are all edible and can be used in various ways to take food to another level. Not everyone is well-versed in just how versatile the lemon can be, though, especially regarding the peel. Let’s take a look at some culinary uses for lemon peel to help you up the zest factor and cut the waste.
What can I do with my lemon skins?
Lemon skins don’t get enough action, but that doesn’t mean they’re not ready to add flavor to whatever dish you’re making. They can even be used to create their own standalone treats! Here are six ways to use a lemon peel to make some delicious culinary items and reduce food waste.
1. Lemon zest
Lemon zest is the most common use of lemon peels. Countless recipes call for a bit of lemon zest to add citrus flavor to whatever is being cooked. It also adds a pop of color. Dishes such as curries, meat stuffing, and poultry-based foods can all benefit from a little added lemon zest. It’s not just savory foods that love lemon, however. You can take desserts such as baked goods up a notch using lemon zest.
To create lemon zest, simply grate the lemon skin and use the remnants. Be sure only to scrape off the bright yellow of the peel – the pith underneath is bitter and doesn’t add much flavor. One of the best things about lemon zest is that it’s nutritious, even if you use a small amount. One tablespoon offers a healthy dose of vitamin C.
2. Infused beverages
Alcoholic beverages, tea, and even plain water can all be enhanced using a lemon peel. For cold drinks, you can drop the lemon peel into the mixture, whether it be alcohol or just water, and let it sit for up to five days. The lemon flavoring will be infused into the liquid, and you’ll have a nice, light citrusy beverage to enjoy.
For hot drinks such as tea, simply boiling lemon peels for a short time in water will have a similar effect. You can also add other citrus peels or fresh herbs to make your infused lemon beverage much more flavorful.
3. Lemon rind syrup
Lemon syrup can be used in various ways to add a little extra flavoring on cakes, in beverages, or with yogurt and nuts.
To make lemon rind syrup, cut up the rinds and toss them into a container with sugar. The amount of sugar used depends on how much you want to make. If you're going to make a small batch, grab three juiced lemons and mix them with half a cup of sugar. Stir occasionally while the peels and sugar are at room temperature.
The following day, strain the mixture and you’ll be left with a light and sweet syrup.
4. Lemon marmalade
Lemon marmalade is an acquired taste, but for anyone who loves the tangy taste of lemons, it’s a recipe you must try. To make lemon marmalade, you need both the fruit and the peels. Cut lemons into thin slices, remove all the seeds and place them in a bowl. Cover the lemons in water and keep them covered overnight. Once they’ve had the chance to sit, put the lemons and their water into a pot and bring them to a simmer on the stove for 15 minutes or until the peel is tender.
Add sugar to the lemons and water until it dissolves. Continue to simmer for another 20 minutes. At that point, the marmalade will start to set. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool before putting it into a sterilized jar.
While this may sound complicated, the only thing you’ll have to figure out is how much you need of each ingredient. If you have four lemons, you’ll use six cups of water and eight cups of sugar, so translate this ratio to the amount of fruit you have.
5. Lemon sugar
If you’re tired of using sugar that makes your dishes just a little too sweet, you can try lemon sugar. It’s an easy process and makes for a great addition to cake, cookies, or any other lemony baked goods you can think of.
To make lemon sugar, zest an entire lemon into two cups of sugar and stir. Once you’ve combined the sugar and lemon zest, let it sit so that all the lemon oils can dry. Store it until you’re ready to use it.
Image by Ajale on Pixabay: Unsure of what to do with lemon rinds after juicing? There are so many options!
6. Lemon extract
Lemon flavoring doesn’t always have to be as sweet as lemon sugar. If you want that citrusy addition to your cooking but don’t want to add any sweetness, try making a lemon extract with lemon peels. It’s a bit more complicated than lemon sugar and requires more patience, but it’s well worth it.
To create the extract, fill a jar until it’s about three-quarters full of lemon peels. Top the peels with either food-grade glycerin or, if you have it available, 80–100 proof vodka. Once you’ve filled the jar, store it in a cool, dark cabinet for four to six weeks. The flavors need time to settle. Be sure to give the jar a good shake every few days to help the process. Once it has sat, you simply strain out the peels, leaving you with the extract.
Using lemon rinds in the kitchen will not only up your food’s flavor profile, but also help you cut down on any unnecessary food waste. A citrusy win-win!
Featured image by ROMAN ODINTSOV on Pexels