With citrus, most of us dig into the juicy bits eagerly, but all those lemons, oranges, grapefruits and limes are wrapped in fabulously fragrant, delicious skin. Rub your thumb across the skin and smell the perfume. Especially with the price of citrus this year, you'll want to butcher and use the whole beast, as it were, and not let any of it go to waste. Here are a few ideas:
Lemon zest: zest each lemon first and freeze for future use. If it's destined for the freezer, I use a vegetable peeler and make wide strips that provide less surface area for ice to collect on. Prior to using, I thaw, then just mince or slice based on what my recipe calls for. Idea: Make a classic Gremolata with 2 parts fresh parsley, 1 part minced lemon zest, and two minced cloves of garlic. Chop all together fine and sprinkle over grilled meats or vegetables.
Salted lemon peel: Just as you can preserve whole lemons, you can preserve the peel.and use it as an interesting condiment for finishing dishes. I usually only make enough to use within a few weeks. Put finely chopped peel into a jar and toss with about twice as much coarse kosher or sea salt. Play around with the salt-to-lemon proportions, as you discover you like a more lemony or more salty effect. It's ready to use immediately, but much better after a week. Be sure to use a good quality, non-iodized salt for mellower saltiness and clean flavor.
Candied Citrus Peel Those of you who know Bon Bon know that I use a lot of lemons, and you'll very often see my desserts garnished with candied lemon peel. You can do this with any citrus peel, though--grapefruit is especially delicious and hard to come by unless you make it yourself. Below is a formula you can apply to any citrus peel you wish to preserve by candying.
For about 4 lemons, 2 grapefruits, or 3 oranges.
1. Score through the peel of the fruit from top to bottom, without cutting into the fruit, about 6 times. Carefully remove the peel sections, scrape away excess white pith, and cut the peel sections into 1/8" strips. Cover with cool water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Drain, and repeat 2 more times.
2. Dissolve 4 c sugar in 4 c water and bring to a boil. Add citrus peel to boiling syrup, reduce heat and simmer for about an hour, until peels is tender and translucent. Remove from heat and let peel cool in the syrup.
3. Remove cooled peel from syrup with a slotted spoon and let drain on a wire rack over a sheet pan or parchment. Remove excess syrup with a paper towel prior to rolling citrus peel in sugar. Let sugared peel set overnight. If you don't need all that sugared peel at once, store it in the fridge in its syrup, and roll it in sugar as needed. Idea: got a cocktail recipe calling for simple syrup? Give it a sparkle by using the lemon syrup instead. It is delicious too!
Enjoy as a treat on it's own, dip in melted chocolate, or use as a garnish. Less than perfect candies peels are delicious chopped up an added to your favorite scone or shortbread recipe or sprinkled as a garnish.