In the dead of winter, when everything is frozen and bleak, Mother Nature blesses us with a ray of warm sunshine: Citrus fruit. This is the season that citrus fruit is harvested and so there’s plenty. It’s abundance means it’s on sale a lot. And a good thing too–this is when we are most prone to colds and flu and we really need that boost of Vitamin C.
So, what can I do with all that citrus?
Well, I’ve already written about Candied Orange Peels. If you haven’t tried them, you’re missing out on a treat. But there’s lots more to do with oranges. Of course you can juice them and freeze the juice for later. You can also make orange jelly and orange marmelade.
Don’t throw the peels away!
After you’ve made enough Candied Orange Peels, the rest can be used to make a lovely orange-vinegar household cleaner.
Now, on to lemons
There are dozens of uses for lemons. I just bought 10 pounds of lemons–much to my husband’s horror. He was certain they would spoil before getting used. But not to worry. First I made a double batch of lemon-ginger-honey tea. Four or five lemons went into making lemon curd–a simple but tasty lemony cream that can be used in pies, tarts or as a spread on toast or sugar cookies. Then I preserved about 5 lbs of lemons in salt. I juiced the last of the lemons and poured the juice into ice cube trays. I pop the cubes out and store them in a Ziploc baggie to use in recipes later.
After juicing the lemons, I peeled the thin layer of zest off –a little tricky since there’s no more lemon inside to keep the rind stiff, but a good sharp knife works wonders. Most of the lemon peel I diced and
will dehydrate. The dehydrated peels are wonderful in herb tea and ground up to use in recipes that call for lemon zest. You can do the same thing with orange peels. The dried peels are also a nice addition to teas and they can be powdered and used like orange zest.
I julienned the last 1 – 1 1/2 cup of peels. It goes into a jar of vodka and water for 6-8 weeks to make lemon extract. You can do the same with the orange peels to make orange extract.
Make your winter a little brighter
Take advantage of all the citrus that is on sale during the winter months and bring a little sunshine to these cold days.