Preserving Citrus Fruits

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I love the smell and taste of citrus fruits. I use lemons to clean and freshen the air and I make several dishes where the recipes call for zest (the very outer skin of a citrus fruit).

Examples are:

  • Orange Infused Scallops use zest of an orange and orange juice.
  • Low Carb Key Lime Pie uses zest of limes
  • Low Carb Lemon Blueberry Muffins need lemon Zest.

I use organic citrus fruit, especially if I need the peel to get fresh zest. Though, when I shop for organic citrus fruit I have noticed that not all stores sell them and the ones that do, usually sell them in bags of five or more. Seldom do I find them sold as single fruit. And it is definitely a challenge to use a whole bag of citrus fruit in a short time before it goes bad.

The principle of “Waste not – Want not” has been ingrained in me and wasting fruit (or anything) is not what I wish to do. So I had to find a solution that would make the most use of the entire bag of fruit.

I did a little research and found there are ways to preserve them. Citrus fruit can easily be frozen. You can freeze them whole, though the fruit will be mushy when de-thawed. You can still get zest from them and they are easier to juice this way once de-thawed.

A short video gives quick instructions:

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I prefer to freeze the zest, juice and the zest-bare skins separately. A little more work up front but it saves time later on.

To preserve the zest:

  • Wash fruit carefully, dry it and let it sit out for a short while to make sure it is indeed fully dry.
  • When completely dry, zest your lemons, limes or oranges. I use the OXO Good Grips Zester and Grater. It works better than any other I’ve ever used. It is sharp and makes zesting simple and quick.
  • When all the fruit (one kind at a time) is zested, gently place your zest into a clean (4 oz) glass jar. It is best to use a jar — not a bag — in order to ensure the zest does not get crushed. I found Mason Ball Jelly Jars-4 oz. each – Quilted Crystal Style-Set of 4 to be the most economical. Make sure not to push the zest down. It is better to use an additional jar if you have more zest. Close the lid tightly, label the jar, and then place it in the freezer.
  • Zest freezes well. When you need some, take out what you need and place the jar back into the freezer. Let the portion you took out de-thaw. Once de-thawed you can use the zest as you would fresh.

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I also freeze juice. Many recipes call for the juice of one (or more) lemons or other citrus fruit.

To preserve citrus juice:

  • After zesting the fruit, roll it on the counter to make it soft, then squeeze the juice from it. I don’t heat the fruit in the microwave because I don’t want to change the nutritional value. Rolling the fruit to get it soft works really well.
  • Place the juice of one citrus fruit into a snack-sized, zipped and label bag.
  • Place the bags, rolled up like a sausage, on a cookie sheet and pre-freeze them over night.
  • Once they are frozen, place them all into one freezer bag, also labeled and dated. Then return the entire batch to the freezer.

Last but not least, I do not wish to waste the skins. I use them for cleaning purposes.

To preserve the skins:

Place your skins on a cookie sheet and pre-freeze over night.

Once frozen, place all skins in a ziplock bag and return to the freezer.

What to do with frozen citrus skins:

  • Great for cleaning the garbage disposal.

Once a day I take a frozen skin, cut it into smaller pieces, and put it down the garbage disposal. It cleans and refreshes superbly.

  • Great for cleaning the microwave.

Place one lemon skin into a microwavable coffee mug and fill it with water. Heat the lemon and water for about 7 minutes. Every microwave is different, so make sure you stop the heating process before your cup is completely dry. Let the lemon filled cup sit for about 10 minutes. The evaporated water will have soaked and softened any soil in your microwave. Just use a paper towel to wipe it clean. For stubborn soil you can repeat the process.

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Your kitchen will smell heavenly whenever you work with citrus fruit and when you use it to clean. It is a natural air freshener and brightens the mood.

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