How can you use lemon peel, what can you make with it, and how should it be stored? Can you eat fresh lemon peel? You can check out our various recipes with lemon peel (citrus x limon).
Lemon peel from organic lemons can be used to flavor dishes or as a fragrance. Essential oils are contained in the oil glands found in the outer peel and are used as a fragrance in beauty products and food. Lemon peel can give baked goods and sauces a delicious, fruity flavor. In Arabic cuisine, dried limes are also used for seasoning.
Lemon peel can be used fresh or preserved in a variety of different ways. A common method of preservation is turning it into candied lemon peel. You can also find dried lemon peel in fruit teas.
If you want to use citrus fruit peel, you must make sure that the fruit is untreated (i.e., organic) as pesticides tend to be intensively used on citrus plants to rid them of pests. Since citrus fruits have a thick peel, they may sometimes be treated with higher doses of chemicals. Furthermore, citrus fruits are often sprayed with a thin layer of wax to protect the fruit during transport. They may also be sprayed with preservatives such as thiabendazole (E 233), orthophenyl phenol (E 231), sodium orthophenyl phenol (E 232), biphenyl (E 230), and imazalil.1 The label “untreated” only indicates that a fruit did not come into contact with pesticides once it was harvested.
Although some organic fruit may be prewashed, you should still wash the lemons at home before using them and then rub them dry.2 When zesting lemon peel, you should only zest the outside, colored layer. The pith (white layer of the peel) tends to be bitter.
However, some lemons do not have bitter pith, for example, Amalfi lemons and cedar lemons (lemons that contain a thick layer of white peel under the colored zest). To determine whether the lemons you are using have bitter pith, simply taste them. Thick strips of white lemon peel can be cut into thin slices and marinated with a little salt and oil (e.g., canola oil), lemon flesh, and lemon juice.
Can you eat lemon peel?
You can eat fresh organic lemon peel that has been washed, but it depends a lot on the variety of lemon and your own taste preferences. You can see the healthy nutrients that fresh lemon peel contains in the tables below the text. This information does not include the pith (white part of the peel).
We recommended exclusively eating and using organic lemon peel. The regulations are stricter for organic products in the EU.
Recipe for Salt-Preserved Lemon Peel:
First, weigh the organic lemon peel. You should only be using the zest (colored part) of the lemon peel. Add lemon juice (one-third of the weight of the lemon peel) and layer the peel in a jar. Sprinkle salt in between the layers, using an amount of salt equivalent to 12 % of the weight of the mixture. Pour water over the mixture until covered with liquid. Store the mixture in the refrigerator, turning it upside down every day or two so that the brine remains evenly distributed. After a few days to a week, the lemon peel will have absorbed enough salt to not spoil. Take them out of the fridge and let dry. Salt-preserved lemon peel can be kept for years and can be used to flavor a variety of dishes, for example, braised dishes and stews.
Recipe for Homemade Lemon Pepper Seasoning:
To make lemon pepper, mix good-quality ground peppercorns with granulated lemon peel and sea salt. To make granulated lemon peel, zest the lemon with a zester or peeler. Then dry the peel for three hours at a maximum of 42 °C (so that it remains of raw quality). Alternatively, you can dry the lemon peel at room temperature. This takes a few days, but it will ensure that most of the vitamins are retained. If your oven cannot be set to a lower temperature, you can dry the lemon zest at temperatures of up to 60 degrees. You can tell that the peel is dry when it breaks easily.
Cool the lemon peel, then crush the peel, peppercorns, and sea salt together using a mortar and pestle. Mix well. Ratio: Use the lemon peel of two to four organic lemons, 50 g pepper, and 10 g sea salt. Depending on your preferences, you can use more, less, or no salt, and you can change the ratio of pepper to lemon peel.
Store in an airtight jar or spice shaker in a cool, dark, and dry place. Stored like this, your lemon pepper should keep for up to half a year. The mixture should not have lumps. Lemon pepper is suitable for seasoning dishes before or after serving. You can change up the flavor of lemon pepper by adding spices like garlic and paprika and herbs such as thyme.
Adding lemon peel to drinks:
You can dry lemon peel either at a very low temperature in the oven or at room temperature. Dried lemon peel will keep for years and is ideal to add to herbal teas.
To make lemonade, slice an unpeeled lemon, remove the seeds, and juice with a little water. To make lemon tea or lemon peel tea, put the peel of two lemons in one liter of boiling water and let steep for 15 minutes. Add lemon juice and some honey or sweetener to the tea to taste. The tea can be served warm or cold.
Making your own lemon fragrance:
You can buy lemon fragrance. However, even if a lemon fragrance is marketed as being a “natural fragrance” (perfume), it may be made from mold cultures, fungi, or enzymes (e.g., Aspergillus niger) and contain no natural lemon. Unfortunately, even organic aroma bottles containing such “natural flavors” can be marketed and sold.3
It is very easy to make your own lemon fragrance. Dry the yellow part of the lemon peel for one day at room temperature. Sprinkle the bottom of a sealable jar with sugar and then add the lemon peel. Add another layer of sugar and shake. Shake the jar every two days: after about 14 days you should have relatively strong lemon sugar. Alternatively, you can cut lemon into thin slices (1 mm), dry the slices until they are crunchy, put them in a blender, and then store in an airtight jar. You can sprinkle the lemons with sugar if you would like them to be sweet: sprinkle the peel of 3 organic lemons with 3–4 teaspoons of sugar.
Recipe for Lemon Extract:
You can make natural lemon extract by infusing vodka with lemon zest. Let the lemon zest steep in vodka for at least two weeks; ideally, you should let it steep for six weeks or longer. Store in a clean, sealable jar that can be put in a cool, dark place (e.g., at the bottom of a box or crate), but do not refrigerate. You can use lemon extract to add flavor to drinks or dishes that may contain alcohol, for example, punch. Make sure that the peel is covered with vodka; otherwise, it can mold. You should use 125 mL vodka for every lemon that you use.
Recipe for Lemon Marmalade:
Marmalade gets its name from the Portuguese word for quince paste (mamelada from marmelo— Portuguese for quince). Marmalade is a fruit preserve made from the pulp and peel of citrus fruits boiled with sugar and water. The most common marmalade is made from bitter orange, and usually pieces of peel are visible in the marmalade.
To make lemon marmalade, use 7 organic lemons, 1 kg jam sugar, and 300 mL water.
Peel the zest of the lemon peel without the pith, cut into strips, and bring to a boil with the water. Then simmer for 60 to 90 minutes with the lid on. Remove the lemon peel from the water and set aside (keep the water that you boiled the peel in). Cut up the lemon flesh (including the pith) into small pieces and simmer for two hours in another saucepan covered with water. Pass the mixture through a sieve to separate the flesh from the liquid — you only need the liquid.
Pour the three parts together: the lemon peel and the liquid it was boiled in, the stewed lemon, and the lemon juice. Add one kilogram of jam sugar per liter lemon mixture. You may also be able to find jam sugar that allows you to make a marmalade with much less sugar (half or one-third of the fruit content), but these jam sugars often contain additional preservatives.
Bring to a boil and boil for four minutes, stirring constantly, until bubbly. Pour the marmalade into sterilized jars while hot. Turn the jars upside down for about 10 minutes to seal them. This way, the upper rim of the jars will also be sterilized. However, this does not work for jars with lock latches.
Jam sugar is made from refined sugar, pectin, and citric or tartaric acid. It sometimes also contains preservatives. The main advantage of jam sugar is that it shortens cooking times. Pectin loses its gelling power over time, meaning that jam sugar may lose its ability to keep jams and marmalade fresh after the expiration date.
Making cleaner from lemon peel:
Please note: Acidic cleaners should not be used for surfaces made from marble or other types of limestone as the acid attacks the minerals. Citric acid is a carboxylic acid. The acid decomposes under heat because of the calcium citrate it contains.
Citric cleaners are efficient and effective descaling agents. They can easily be made from lemon peel (or the peel of other citrus fruits) and white vinegar. The acidity means that you should keep citric cleaners in glass jars. You can often buy citric cleaners that have a picture of the lemon on the packaging — these are not actually made from lemons, rather they are instead made industrially from black mold or genetically modified fruit.
Preparation: tightly pack citrus peel in a glass jar. Add vinegar until the peel is covered and leave to stand for two to three weeks. The peel will soak up the vinegar: keep adding vinegar to ensure that the peels are always covered to prevent mold. The result will be a pleasant lemon-scented all-purpose cleaner.
The result should be dark-colored vinegar with a lemon fragrance. You can pour it into empty spray bottles through a sieve and use it undiluted. You can also add a dash of detergent or liquid soap to help the cleaner adhere to the surface.
You can shake the jar to mix the liquid up a bit. If you want to use the cleaner for more than 14 days, add two tablespoons of an organic spirit.
To clean silicone and rubber seals, only use citric acid or baking soda with a little detergent or liquid soap: do not use vinegar. The same goes for removing limescale. It takes at least 10 to 15 minutes to dissolve limescale; you may even want to leave the part to be soaked overnight.
Vegan recipes containing lemon peel can be found under the header: “Recipes that contain the largest amounts of this ingredient” (at the very bottom or on the side of the screen).
Purchasing — where to shop?
You should buy organic lemons if you want to use the peel. It is possible to find organic lemons at most supermarket chains such as Walmart, Whole Foods Markets, Kroger, and Safeway (United States); Extra Foods, Metro, and Freshmart (Canada); Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Aldi, and Lidl (Great Britain); and Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, and Harris Farm (Australia). You may also be able to find dried and grated lemon peel. These products usually contain not only sugar and natural lemon aroma, but they also often contain acidifiers (citric acid E330), preservatives (potassium sorbate E202 and sodium metabisulfite E223), and even colorants (beta-carotene E160a). You may be able to find organic prepackaged lemon peel products at organic supermarkets.
Making your own lemon peel snacks:
Lemon peel is far too nutritious to throw away. How can lemon peel be eaten? Here are some short recipes for using lemon peel:
Finely grated lemon peel: Lemons and other citrus fruits can be grated with a grater or zester. You can use the fine side of a standard kitchen grater to obtain finely grated lemon peel. We recommended putting a piece of parchment paper between the grater and the fruit to prevent pieces of lemon peel getting stuck in the grater. The paper will be held in place by the grater — hold it firmly for the first grating motions until the paper has pushed through the grating slots. You can stir freshly grated lemon zest into a wide variety of dishes to give them a delicious, fresh flavor. You can try adding it to Erb Muesli (or Erb Muesli with Rolled Oats).
Lemon zest: You can also use a zester to make lemon zest, which is even thinner than the grated lemon peel. A zester has a blade with a perforated row of round holes that have sharpened rims. You can also remove strips of lemon zest with a peeler and then cut them into fine strips with a sharp knife on a cutting board.
You can also obtain zest from oranges or mix together lemon and orange zest. Citrus zest is often used to decorate desserts; however, you can also zest vegetables to decorate terrines and soups. Lemon and orange zests are free of the bitterness of the white part of the peel, making them particularly ideal for flavoring baked goods, sauces, and drinks.
Lemon peel chunks: You can also make lemon peel chunks and either cook the dish with the peel and remove before serving or use the chunks as garnish. You can use a peeler to make lemon peel chunks — try to make the peel thin enough to avoid the white layer of the lemon.
Freezing slices of lemon and grating them: You can freeze slices of lemon (e.g., in an ice-cube container) and then grate them together with their peel and sprinkle over salads or desserts and mix them into drinks or soups.
Lemons can be frozen as slices with the peel, for example, in an ice-cube container with two pieces per compartment. They can then be grated together with their peel and sprinkled over salads or desserts and mixed into drinks or soups.
Lemons keep longer in the refrigerator. This is also the case for sliced lemons; however, sliced lemons will develop mold relatively quickly even when refrigerated. You can wrap paper towels around sliced lemons to prevent them from spoiling so quickly — they will soak up excess moisture and leave the lemons crisp.
If you only need a small piece of lemon or lemon peel, cut off a narrow slice of lemon from the whole rather than halving it. If you just need a little lemon juice, prick with a fork or toothpick and gently squeeze the lemon. You can cover the pricked section with paper towel to protect the lemon.
Make sure than lemons do not come into contact with aluminum foil: the citric acid that lemons contain dissolves aluminum, and aluminum is linked to various diseases including Alzheimer’s and cancer.
Nutrients — nutritional information — calories:
It is surprising how few people know that lemon peel is nutritionally superior to lemon juice in many ways. Lemon peel is much more flavorsome than lemon juice and contains more healthy nutrients. Here are a few examples (per 100 g)4:
|Nutrients||Lemon Juice||Lemon Peel|
|Dietary Fiber||2.8 g||11 g|
|Protein||1.1 g||1.5 g|
|Calcium||26 mg||134 mg|
|Vitamin C||53 mg||129 mg|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxin)||0.08 mg||0.17 mg|
|Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)||0.02 mg||0.08 mg|
|Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5)||0.19 mg||0.32 mg|
|Flavanoids, Pectin (phytonutrients)||average||a lot|
Lemon juice has the molecular formula C6H8O7: citric acid. Citric acid is found in numerous fruits and is also produced by our body.
Select CLICK FOR under the photo of the ingredient to see the nutrient tables. These tables provide complete nutritional information, the percentage of the recommended allowance, and comparison values with other ingredients.
Health benefits — effects:
You will find many exaggerated claims about lemon peel on the Internet. One of these is that lemon peel contains five to ten times the amount of vitamin C of lemon pulp. The reality is represented in the table above. It is true that citrus flavonoids and pectin are overwhelmingly found in the peel and pith of lemons. The same goes for hesperidin, a flavanone glycoside. Hesperidin is used medically to help venous problems such as varicose veins. It can also be used as a remedy for hemorrhoids. Hesperidin has anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.5
According to Professor Dr. Bernhard Watzl, epidemiological studies show that an above-average intake of flavonoids can lower the risk of various diseases, including mortality from cardiovascular diseases. Flavonoids can help to metabolize arachidonic acid. They can also help one’s metabolism in general and blood coagulation.6 Various studies indicate that bioflavonoids such as quercetin cause cell morphological changes that are directly effective in preventing cancer (inhibiting “growing”).7
Neohesperidin dihydrochalcone (NHDC, E 959) is an artificial sweetener derived from lemon or grapefruit. It is used to produce a calorie-free sweetener whose sweetening power is 400 to 600 times stronger than sugar.8
Lemon contains phytonutrients and various acids including citric acid, malic acid, and formic acid, all of which have strong antioxidant effects. Citral is an essential oil with a strong citrus odor. It is the main component of lemongrass oil and provides the typical lemon scent.
A study suggested that lemons combined with baking powder have an anti-carcinogenic effect.9 However, this finding triggered a wide range of reactions. While other studies have shown that pH levels are linked to the number of metastases, clear clinical studies are still lacking.10,11
Pectin (E 440) is a dietary fiber (polysaccharides) that is largely indigestible for humans. However, many microorganisms can use pectin. In industrially produced food, pectin is used as a gelling agent, thickener, and stabilizer. In medicine, pectin is used as a sequestrant to detox after heavy metal poisoning and can help to lower cholesterol levels. Pectin can furthermore help to treat diarrhea.12
Dangers — intolerances — side effects:
Citrus fruits can trigger allergies. These allergies usually take the form of oral allergy syndrome and include an itchy mouth, throat, and tongue as well as swelling of the lips, mouth, and tongue. Citrus may also cause skin reactions; however, these can take up to two days to appear. If this is the case, we advise having an allergy skin test. Before having the test, try to clarify whether your reaction was caused by fructose intolerance or triggered by preservatives.
Use as a medicinal plant:
Lemon essential oil can mask flavors and odors and is sometimes rubbed on the skin as a counterirritant. Lemon essential oil is used as a remedy for various diseases and ailments. Citrus flavonoids are often used in preparations to treat venous disorders and flu-like illnesses.
The ancestors of all edible citrus fruits are believed to be on the southeastern slope of the Himalayas in northeastern India, Myanmar, and the Yunnan province in China. The Yu Kung (Yu Gong, Tribute to Yu), a section of the ancient Chinese classic Shu Ching (Shūjīng, Shu-king, Book of Documents) records payments of tribute with citrus fruits to the Chinese ruler Ta Yu around 2200 BCE.13 It was not until much later in 1805 that mandarins were imported to Europe from China.
Citrus fruits originated from a cross between bitter oranges (Citrus aurantium) and citrons (Citrus medica), and were probably first found in northern India. Citrus plants are susceptible to a variety of pests, meaning that a wide variety of pesticides are used in nonorganic commercial cultivation of citrus plants. Common citrus pests include the Asian citrus psyllid, the citrus leafminer, the light brown applemoth (Epiphyas postvittana), the lemon bud moth (Prays parilis), citrus blackflies, citrus whiteflies, scale insects, mealybugs, aphids, spider mites, powdery mildew, leaf miners, weevils, snails, fungi (Fusarium), bacteria, and even viruses. Root rot is also a common problem for citrus trees.
Lemon peel is also known as lemon zest. Zested lemon may also be referred to as grated lemon peel or chopped lemon rind.
Literature — sources:
Many researchers do not believe that Wikipedia is an authoritative source. One reason for this is that the information about literature cited and authors is often missing or unreliable. Our pictograms for nutritional values provide also information on calories (kcal).
- Wikipedia Zitrone.
- Ndr.de Wie viel Chemie klebt an Zitrusfrüchten? Beitrag vom 4.1.2017.
- Wikipedia Natürliches Aroma.
- USDA United States Department of Agriculture.
- Galati, E. M. et al. Biological effects of hesperidin, a citrus flavonoid. (Note I): antiinflammatory and analgesic activity. Farmaco. 1994;40.
- Watzl B, Rechkemmer G. Basiswissen aktualisiert: Flavonoide. Ernährungs-Umschau. 2001;48:12.
- Klappan A. Einfluss des Flavonoids Quercetin auf den mTOR-Signalweg von Zervix- und Mammakarzinomzellen. München 2014.
- Zygler A, Wasik A et al. Determination of nine high-intensity sweeteners in various foods by high-performance liquid chromatography with mass spectrometric detection. Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry. 2011.
- Walton ZE, Patel CH et al. Acid suspends the circadian clock in hypoxia through inhibition of mTOR. Cell. 2018;174(1).
- Ibrahim-Hashim A, Abrahams D et al. Tris-base buffer: a promising new inhibitor for cancer progression and metastasis. Cancer Med. 2017;6(7).
- McIntyre A, Hulikova A et al. Disrupting Hypoxia-Induced Bicarbonate Transport Acidifies Tumor Cells and Suppresses Tumor "Growing". Cancer Res. 2016;76(13).
- Wikipedia Pektine.
- Legge J. Sacred Books of the East. Vol. 3: The Shoo King. Teil III, Buch I: The Tribute of Yu. London: Trübner. 1879:68.