Saturday, May 26, 2012

Dehydrating Lemons

This process can be applied to any citrus fruit.

Dehydrating is an excellent way to preserve  lemons and citrus . 

  • Before slicing your fruit for dehydrating, be sure to zest it first. See the post and video on lemon zest for details.
When I first learned about dehydrating citrus, the instructions said to simply slice the fruit with the peelings.  However, sometimes the dehydrated fruit has a bit of a bitter taste.  So I decided to peel it before dehydrating.

This video shows a nifty little Tupperware gadget that is perfect for peeling citrus. Originally, the only way you could get one was to win it as a prize at a Tupperware party.  I get mine at the thrift stores.  They usually range from 10¢ to 25¢.

Once you’ve got the peeling off, there is the white membrane to take care of.  In some citrus this causes a bit of a bitter taste, so you want to remove it, too.  A paring knife is a really simple way to do it.
After peeling the fruit, simply slice and rack itI dehydreate mine on a low temp, around 115.

Dehydrated citrus may take several days to dry, depending on how juicy the fruit is. It will turn out crisp and pity. 

  • Check by touch to see if they are completely dry.  If any moisture comes out when you squeeze a bit, then it is not ready.
Uses for dehydrated citrus:

  • Use as a garnish on deserts, fish, or chicken dishes
  • Insert under the skin of your chicken and bake for a wonderful flavor
  • Powder and sprinkle with fresh cracked pepper on your chicken or fish before broiling for lemon/pepper seasoning
  • Put several slices in a glass of cold water, sweeten as desired, and allow to rehydrate for a nice cool drink
  • Let your imagination run wild! J


  1. Hi Linda - I am wondering if it is a must to zest the citrus (in this case, it will be smaller limes - not keylimes, though). I read on the fb blog mixed comments about peeling so I'm just not sure. Also, if I do zest them, can I save the zest for something? Can it be dehydrated also or might it blow about the dehydrator?

    1. Hi Ciganka,

      It isn't necessary to zest your citrus, but I highly recommend it. Not because it will make some difference in the drying, but because ofthe benefits of making your own zest. I zest mine directly onto a fruit leather tray and dry it right along with the citrus. Why pay the high prices for zest when you can get it for free?

      As to blowing about in the dehydrator. Can I assume you have a big side blowing machine like an excalibur? I use American Harvesters and that is never an issue. I expect that it might blow around.

      Zest is really easy and forgiving. If you think blowing might be a problem, just put your zest onto a cookie sheet or a pie plate or something and leave it sitting out. It will dry overnight on its own and be just fine. Just put your pans somewhere that will keep the vermin out.

  2. We zest our citrus into a glass bowl w/ high sides and put into the bottom if the dehydrator. It allows for drying but keeps it from blowing all over. We do this for herbs as well.

    1. Thanks for the tip. That's a good idea for box-type dehydrators.

      I didn't realize what a problem dehydrating fine things can be. My dehydrator blows from the bottom, so it's never an issue.

  3. Try a bit of butter muslin (fine cheesecloth) over the bowl of zest to help it from blowing

  4. You could also put the zest on a baking sheet and place in an over with the light on. The zest dries overnight, and can be stored in a jar. I vacuum pack mine in the jar with an attachment for the food saver.

    1. Thanks so much for the suggestion. Yes, there are many ways to dehydrate and sometimes the oven works just fine. Just remember, when you store it in a jar (or wherever) keep in mind that it should not have long exposure to light.

      The jars work fine for many people and I do have a few things in jars. But if your have limited space and / or you are thinking in terms of a bug-out situation, jars are heavy and cumbersome, whereas vacuum bags or even freezer zip bags are light weight and portable.

      Happy dehydrating!