5 clever ways to use up citrus peels

What’s lurking at the back of your fridge? delicious. is on a mission to get cooks utilising every scrap of every ingredient to avoid unnecessary food waste. delicious. Food Producer Emily Gussin shares her ideas to use up half-used lemons, limes, grapefruit or oranges.

5 clever ways to use up citrus peels

Only use what you need

Don’t cut into a lemon or lime if you need just a touch of juice. Instead, roll the fruit back and forth on the worktop with the palm of your hand to break up the cells inside, then use a skewer to make a small hole in one end. Squeeze with your hand to produce a sprinkling of juice through the hole (the lemon/lime will last several days in the fridge).

How to freeze citrus

Citrus fruit don’t defrost well if you freeze them whole, but the results are good if you prep them first:

  • Freeze slices or wedges of lemons, limes, oranges or grapefruit on a tray, then transfer to a freezer bag once solid. Add individual slices to drinks – they’ll double up as ice.


  • Pour citrus juice into ice cube trays and freeze. Transfer to a bag once solid. Melt the cubes straight into sauces, soups and stews at the end of cooking to add zingy flavour in place of freshly squeezed juice.
  • Stir grated zest into breadcrumbs and freeze in a sealed container. Sprinkle over gratins or pasta bakes to make a crunchy topping or toast in a pan to use as a pangrattato (see our cavolo nero linguine recipe here).

Make preserved lemons with just the peel

Preserved lemons are a common ingredient in Moroccan and Levantine cooking. This version uses just the peel, so you can use up the fruit after juicing; it works with any type of citrus.

Preserved lemons

Put a 2cm layer of salt in the base of a sterilised jar. Each time you squeeze the juice from a citrus fruit, cut each piece of leftover peel in half, press into the salt, then cover with more salt. Keep the jar at a cool room temperature, moving it to the fridge on hot days. The peel will be ready to use in about 6 weeks. As the pieces of peel release their juices, moisture will build up at the base of the jar. The salt and peel will also collapse down, so you can keep adding more to the top of the jar.

Try candying citrus

Candied lemon slices are a wonderful way to decorate cakes.

Heat the oven to 100°C fan/gas ½. Put 50g caster sugar and 30ml water in a small frying pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 1-2 minutes until syrupy. Cut 1 small lemon into 3mm slices (or half moons). Put the lemon slices in a single layer in the base of the pan. Simmer for 10 minutes until tender, turning halfway, then lift out onto a lined baking tray. Bake for 2 hours, turning halfway, to stiffen a little. Set aside to cool, then store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.


Don’t throw away your lemon pips

Lemon seeds are naturally high in pectin, so they’re excellent for helping low-pectin fruit (like strawberries and raspberries) set when making jam. Rinse the seeds, allow to dry, then store in a bag in the freezer. Pop a few in a muslin bag and add to the jam pan at the start of cooking, removing the bag before you put the jam in jars.

Check out all our jam and preserve recipes here.

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