Did you know you can eat orange peels?
That’s right! When Walmart asked me to do a recipe using Navel Oranges for their in store Citrus Celebration this year, I just had to do something different. Sure, you can eat Navel oranges, you can juice Navel Oranges, you can use them in recipes or make something like my Blood Orange Marmalade with them (substituting the Navel Oranges for the Blood Oranges).
Those of you who are regular readers and know me. . . you know I can’t do things the simple way. I have to be unique (and frugal), so I decided to attack the challenge by using the RINDS of the Navel Oranges.
Not satisfied with just one way to use them, I decided to dazzle you all with THREE different ways to use orange peels. So after picking up a big bag of Navel Oranges at Walmart, I candied them, dried them and then made some into homemade orange extract! (Note: the full recipes for all three techniques will be at the bottom of the post)
Before you start any of these recipes, you will want to scrub your oranges well in warm water to remove any wax or chemicals that might be on the skin–since that’s the part you will be eating. Using organic Navel Oranges is another option to reduce your exposure to any chemicals.
How to Make Candied Orange Peels
To make Candied Orange Peels you first peel your orange. I like to score the orange into about 1/2 inch segments and then peel them off. In this case you want to leave the pith (that’s the white part) on the peel–it’s going to absorb the sugar! Candying takes place in 3 steps. First you simmer the peels in water to tenderize them, then after draining you simmer them in a 2:1 sugar syrup to candy them, and finally you dry/sugar them.
How to Make Dried Orange Peels
For Dried Orange Peels you want to remove as much of the pith as possible from your peels. I peel my oranges the same way–in segments. To remove the white pith I lay each segment flat on the cutting board and then laying the knife parallel to the peel I carefully slice away as much as possible with a slight sawing motion. This works best with a thin, sharp blade and multiple passes. Once the pith is removed I cut the rind into thin matchsticks for drying. I feel this size and shape makes the rind easier to chop or powder later. You simply dehydrate them at a low temperature for about 8 hours or until completely dry.
How to Make Orange Extract
Making Orange Extract is a bit of a different process, and honestly one I am still working on. You are basically making what someone who practices herbal medicine would call a “tincture”. That’s soaking something in strong alcohol to draw all the oils out of the plant material and into the alcohol. (note–alcohol is typically the base in commercial extracts as well). To make my extract first I removed the rind from my orange. To show you a different method of doing this I used my Zyliss soft skinned peeler (which is very cool-you can peel a ripe tomato with this thing!) to remove the peel with very little pith. Then I soaked the rind in 100 proof vodka for about a month. I didn’t feel that imparted very much orange flavor, so I strained the liquid out and added more fresh rind. I’ll give it another month and check again–it may need a 3rd time with fresh rind.
So what do you do with these items?
Candied Orange Peel can be eaten as candy plain or dipped in chocolate. You can cut it up and use it as a flavoring in muffins, cakes and quick breads. It would make a pretty garnish in a mixed drink as well.
Dried Orange Peel is an ingredient you probably have seen in recipes before. It is used as a flavoring in batters and baked goods–but also can be added to soups and stews for an interesting depth of flavor. My favorite two uses are in my Baking Spice and as part of the orange in Cranberry Orange Muffins.
Homemade Orange Extract can be used anywhere you’d use store bought orange extract!
Isn’t it great to find a use for something you would normally have just thrown away?
- Orange Peels
- 2 parts Sugar
- 1 part Water
- Extra Sugar for Dusting.
- -Peel oranges and cut into thin strips.
- -Place peels in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until tender, approximately 10 minutes.
- -Drain peels.
- -Create a simple syrup by combining sugar and water in a 2:1 proportion and cook until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- -Add peels to simple syrup and simmer for 10 minutes, until most of the syrup is absorbed and pith becomes translucent.
- -Drain candied peel and lay on cookie racks to cool.
- -Roll in sugar to coat and store in an airtight container.
- Orange Peels
- -Peel oranges.
- -Remove as much pith (the white part) from the peels as possible.
- -Slice the peel into thin strips.
- -Place in a dehydrator at 135 degrees or on a cookie sheet in your oven at the lowest temperature until crisp and dry. The time will vary depending on the size of the peel.
- -Store in an airtight container.
- Orange Peels
- 100 Proof Vodka
- -Peel Orange
- -Remove as much pith as possible.
- -Chop orange peel, pack into a jar and cover with vodka. Ensure all peel is under the vodka--but use as little vodka as you can.
- -Let steep in a dark place for 3 or 4 weeks.
- -Taste. If it is not orange enough, strain the liquid and steep fresh orange peels. Continue until your extract tastes orange-y
Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.