Sometime last year, Phill and I picked up a dehydrator as an impulse buy. It was less than ten dollars and found in the “random stuff aisle” of our favorite grocery store. We knew that dehydrating was a great (and easy) way to preserve food so we figured why not?
Life got busy (like always), and that dehydrator just sat on our storage shelf in the basement. and sat. and sat. and sat.
My go-to dessert to make and share this summer was a key lime pie. The recipe was simple and the zing of lime is blissfully refreshing in the summer heat. The most tedious part of making this pie was zesting the limes. Thankfully, I have a brilliant husband who found a more efficient way to get the zest I needed when baking. Phill went down to the basement, pulled out our dehydrator and gave it a good dusting. He carried the dehydrator upstairs and started carefully removing the rinds off the limes in order to start drying them out. And while I’m pretty sure his stroke of genius came about so that he no longer had the job of zesting (or juicing) the limes, I admire his innovative spirit.
And along came our newest DIY project – dehydrating citrus zest.
Using the dehydrator is incredibly simple. You plug it in, check on it every few hours to rotate the trays and then, presto! Time has passed and everything is dry and waiting for you. The process is the same, whether you’d like to dry limes, lemons, or oranges.
Dehydrated Citrus Zest
Start by cutting your fruit in half, and then juice away. This juice can be used right away, or saved for later by freezing the juice in ice cube trays. When you’re left with the rinds, do your best to lay them flat. Take a sharp knife and remove as much of the pith (the white stuff) as possible. Lay strips of rinds on your dehydrating tray. Turn your dehydrator on it’s low setting and allow it to run until the rinds are completely dry.
Gather your dried citrus rinds into a food processor and grind until smooth. Store in a glass jar away from direct sunlight – we keep ours in the spice cabinet.
Having citrus zest on hand is great, especially when you’re in the middle of a new recipe for cannoli cookies and it randomly calls for a teaspoon of orange zest – that happens to everyone, right? These zests are also great to add in with your spray bottles of vinegar when cleaning or to sprinkle into your hot tea for some extra flavor.
Enjoy and my your hearts be full!