How to Make and Store Your Own Dried Orange Zest
Have I ever told you about my love for my dehydrator? (Heh, Heh, of course I have.) Well here's yet another task it can handle for you!
How to Make and Store Dried Orange Zest
The zest of an orange is the outermost, colorful part of the peel. It contains concentrated, highly flavorful oils great for baking delicious sweets and breads. You can most certainly use it in savory cooking, as well.
All you need to do to make zest is remove this colorful part from the orange. You can do this by using a knife to cut strips, a simple grater, or a utensil more specifically designed for zesting. (I have a Microplane and wouldn't trade it for the world.) The important thing to remember is not to go into the pith, or white part of the peel. This has an unappealing flavor. Also, don't forget to wash your fruit before zesting.
If you're lucky and find yourself with a lot of oranges, making a large quantity of dried zest is made easier by using a food dehydrator. (I have a dwarf orange tree right outside on the patio. It's producing intoxicatingly fragrant blooms and fruit -- I'm impatiently waiting for those babies to ripen.)
Additional note: I also watch for oranges (or lemons or limes -- you can zest them too, ya know) in the reduced section of my produce department. I can sometimes find 3 lb. bags of oranges for 99¢!
To dry your zest, simply spread it out on a shelf of the dehydrator and set your temperature to 135°. Walk away and let it do its thing until the zest is completely dry. Alternately, you can use your oven if the temperature can be controlled to that low degree, and you have the time. You can also simply let the zest air dry on your counter top (I have no idea how long that would take, though).
BTW, if you end up with too many oranges to eat, run them through a juicer (this is mine). That's what I do. I then freeze the juice in these little stackable Ball freezer containers and pull one out to place in the refrigerator each night before I go to bed. Freshly squeezed juice is ready to drink in the morning.
Your fresh-dried orange zest can simply be stored in a jar with a tight lid in your pantry. I can't say exactly how long it will last. I can say I've had some in my pantry for a few months, and it still has flavor.
How much does it make / save? I got about an ounce out of three large oranges. I've seen this amount go for $3 - $4 in stores...made mine for pennies!
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