Got lemons? Don’t waste the rinds! Instead, make great use of leftover lemon peels and turn them into a vitamin-C rich dried lemon powder. The result is a unique, delicious, bright, sweet and tangy seasoning powder – that can be used in more ways than you’d imagine! Truth be told, you can do this with any type of citrus peels.
The bountiful lemon tree in our backyard “forces” us to get creative with ways to use and preserve lemons. In addition to making homemade non-toxic cleaning spray with vinegar and lemons (or any citrus), making dehydrated lemon powder is our absolute favorite way to use lemon peels. Even if you don’t have homegrown lemons to use or preserve, I highly suggest doing this with lemons you buy too!
Making homemade lemon powder is an awesome way to reduce waste, is essentially free, incredibly tasty, and also really easy to do. It is best to dry the lemon peels in a food dehydrator, but your oven will do the job in a pinch. Read along to learn how to make homemade lemon powder in either a food dehydrator or oven, along with 13 different ways to use it.
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Step 1: Obtain Lemon Peels
Choose organic lemons to make lemon powder, as non-organic lemons will have nasty chemicals embedded in the rind. Also, it is best to use fresh lemon peels to make homemade lemon powder. Therefore, the ideal time to make lemon powder is when you’re already using a large quantity of lemons! For example, if you’re juicing lemons to save the juice in ice cube trays, whipping up a batch of our infamous basil-walnut-lemon “Besto Pesto”, baking lemon bars, making homemade salad dressing, or something else deliciously-lemony.
However, you don’t necessarily need to collect your lemon peels all in one day. One option is to save the rinds for up to a week in the refrigerator in an air-tight container. Better yet, peel a bunch of lemons at once to use throughout the week (stored in the fridge), and then you’ll have all your rinds ready at one time. Or, instead of collecting and drying a large batch of lemon peels at one time, you could also dehydrate a few in smaller batches – albeit less efficient.
A note on freezing lemon rinds: Though I haven’t tried it, I assume it’s possible to save collected lemon rinds in the freezer over a longer period of time if needed – and then dehydrate them later after defrosting. However, I have a feeling the color will be a bit off and darker orange to brown. At least that is what happened when I used slightly older softened lemon rinds to make lemon powder one time. If you do try the freezing option, be sure to report back and let us know how it went!
Step 2: Prepare Lemon Peels
This step will vary depending on the type of lemon you are using.
We are fortunate to have a tree full of sweet, thin-skinned Meyer lemons at our disposal. If using Meyer lemons (or similar), you don’t need to fuss with removing the white pith, as it is usually very minimal compared to the sweet tender rind. Therefore, when I want to make homemade lemon powder, I simply peel Meyer lemons whole – as I would an orange!
For other thicker-skinned lemon varieties, such as Eureka lemons, you will want to remove most of the bitter white pith that is attached to the inside of the peel. One way is to peel just the outer layer of the lemon rind using a vegetable peeler – creating thin ribbons of zest. Alternatively, you could peel the lemon whole (like an orange) and then use a spoon or knife to carefully scrape away the white pith.
Step 3: Dehydrate the Lemon Peels
Drying lemon peels using a food dehydrator:
- Lay out the lemon rinds on your food dehydrator trays. The rinds should be in a single layer and not overlapping, since we want good air flow between and around each piece.
- Next, load up your dehydrator and turn it on to a low heat setting (between 95-105°F is good, if your dehydrator has temperature settings).
- Dehydrate the lemon peels until they are completely dry. The time it takes for them to fully dry will vary depending on your individual machine and the thickness of the peels, which may be several hours to a couple of days. It takes about 24 hours to dry Meyer lemon peels in our current badass Excalibur dehydrator, and 36-48 hours in our previous basic Nesco dehydrator.
- You know the lemon peels are finished drying when they easily crack and snap in half, rather than bending.
- Failing to completely dry your lemon peels before grinding will result in a clumpy lemon powder with a shorter shelf-life!
Drying lemon peels in the oven:
This method will work best for thin, zest-like peels of lemon rind. Spread the lemon peels out on a cookie sheet or baking pan. Preheat the oven to the lowest temperature setting possible. Because ovens don’t have uber-low temperature options like dehydrators do, the finished lemon rinds will be darker in color and possibly a different flavor (more roasted) than those dried in a dehydrator.
Bake the lemon rinds on low heat until they are completely dry, crisp, and easily snap in half. This may take several hours to a full day to dry in the oven. If your climate is very arid and warm, you could allow the thin lemon zest ribbons to partially air-dry at room temperature for a couple days before baking, reducing the time needed in the oven.
Step 4: Grind the Lemon Peels into Powder
Once the lemon peels are totally dry, it is time to turn them into powder! Use a blender, food processor, or coffee grinder to churn the dried lemon peels into powder. Our Vitamix does a stellar job at creating a fine, fluffy lemon powder!
Helpful tips: Even using a Vitamix, I find that some larger hard bits are left behind after the initial blend. Therefore, I like to pour the ground lemon powder through a fine mesh strainer poised over a bowl and sift it. Then, I take the collected leftover hard bits and run them back through the Vitamix another time to pulverize them into powder. Repeat if necessary. Then use a rubber scraper to gather all of the lemon powder stuck inside your blender or machine. That is valuable stuff!
Step 5: Store, Use & Enjoy!
Store the finished lemon powder in an air-tight glass container, such as in a mason jar with tight-fitting lid. A canning funnel really comes in handy to transfer the power into a jar without spilling. Keep the container in a dry, cool place. We store ours in the pantry. When properly dried and stored, your homemade lemon peel powder should last for over a year. That is, if you don’t use it all up before then!
Dehydrated lemon powder is insanely delicious. To be honest, I was shocked at how good (and versatile!) it was when we made our first batch many years ago. It can be used in meals, beverages, cleaning products, or even in organic body care! Check out the ideas below.
13 WAYS TO USE DRIED LEMON PEEL POWDER
- Add it to salad dressing. I’m a big fan of simple combinations like olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and a dash of lemon peel powder. Or, sprinkle it right over the salad instead!
- Use it in dips like guacamole, hummus, salsa, or this yogurt dill lemon dipping sauce.
- Mix it with salt, pepper, and/or dried herbs to create lemon pepper and other custom seasoning blends.
- Sprinkle lemon powder over sautéed vegetables, during or after cooking.
- Add it to baked goods like sweet breads, muffins, cookies, or even in frosting or pudding.
- Add it into artichoke cooking water for a bright pop of flavor.
- Incorporate lemon powder into your loose leaf tea blend, or simply mix it straight into hot water or tea.
- Sprinkle it over plain yogurt with granola, nuts and seeds.
- Add it as an ingredient in homemade body care products, such as bath teas, salves, body scrubs, facial masks, or soap. Check out this book for amazing DIY organic body care recipes.
- Use dried lemon powder as a replacement for lemon zest in any recipe. Use 1 tsp of lemon powder for every called-for tablespoon of fresh lemon zest (the commonly suggested ratio for all dry-to-fresh herbs substitutions).
- Sprinkle lemon peel powder over avocado toast with salt and pepper.
- Give some away as a gift, if you have any to spare! My mom loves our lemon powder so I give her a little jar every year around the holidays.
- Use it as a fish or meat seasoning – if you’re into that.
Lemon powder is easy to make, and even easier to find ways to use it! I hope you love your homemade lemon powder as much as we do. Please feel free to ask any questions, report back with a review, and share this article!
If you are into dehydrating food, check out the tutorials below – they’re some of our favorites!
- How to Make Homemade Garlic Powder
- Preserving Onions: How to Make Onion Powder in 6 Easy Steps!
- Herb “Sun” Dried Tomatoes Recipe
- How to Make Homemade Chili Powder
Homemade Dried Lemon Peel Powder
- Food Dehydrator, or Oven
- Blender, Food Processor, or other appliance for grinding
- Lemon peels
- Wash and peel your lemons. If using thin-skinned sweet lemons (like Meyer lemons) peel them whole like an orange. For thicker-skinned lemons (such as Eureka lemons) use a vegetable peeler to remove the outer part of the rind, leaving behind most of the white bitter pith.
- Lay out the lemon peels in a single layer on your food dehydrator racks (or on a baking sheet, if drying in the oven).
- Dry the lemon peels in the dehydrator at 95-105°F, or in the oven on the lowest heat setting possible.
- The time it takes for them to fully dry will vary depending on your individual machine and the thickness of the peels, which may be several hours to a couple of days.
- Dehydrate the lemon peels until they are completely dry. The lemon peels are finished drying when they easily crack and snap in half, rather than bending.
- Use a blender, food processor, or coffee grinder to churn the dried lemon peels into powder.
- Optional: Pour the ground lemon powder through a fine mesh strainer poised over a bowl and sift it. Take the collected leftover hard bits and run them back through the Vitamix/blender another time to pulverize them into powder.
- Store the finished lemon powder in a glass air-tight container, such as in a mason jar with tight-fitting lid.
- Keep the container in a dry, cool place – such as the pantry. When properly dried and stored, your homemade lemon peel powder should last for over a year.