Try reducing your food waste by drying lemon peels and using them to give all your meals an exciting edge. You don't even need a dehydrator! Here's an inexpensive and simple way to dry your lemon peels:

1. Choose the right lemons

First, select the lemons. Keep in mind that dried lemon zest will make about a third of the volume of fresh zest, so 1 teaspoon of dried zest would equal 1 tablespoon of fresh zest. On the other hand, 1 medium lemon yields about 1 tablespoon of fresh zest and 1 teaspoon of dried zest.

But, regardless of size or shape, the most preferable choice is organically grown lemons in order to avoid a concentration of pesticides that may be on the peels.

2. Clean the lemons

Next, wash the lemons in order to rid them of dirt or dust. After a thorough wash, let the lemons dry.

3. Zest the lemons

There are several ways to zest the lemons. You can use a:

  • Fine grater or microplane: these will produce finely thinned zests that dry very quickly and that don't need extra chopping.
  • Cocktail zester: this produces zests in little strips. Although easy to use the zests need further chopping for fineness.
  • Vegetable peeler: produces bigger strips of zests. You will also need to chop the peels if you want fine zest.
  • Small, sharp knife: you can choose to merely peel the lemon rind with a knife. Just make sure that you don't cut the white pith underneath the rind. Trim it off if you do.

4. Dry the lemon peels

The last step is drying the lemon peels. You can use an oven or dry them on a counter at room temperature. Here, your choice solely depends on how much time you have:

  • Using an oven

This is a quick method and all you have to do is place the lemons, spread over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, in an oven, at 170°F. Keep in mind that the hotter the oven, the darker the dried peel will get. If the zest is very fine, it should be finished in 30 minutes to an hour. The larger the strips, the more the time required.

  • Over the counter:

Simply spread the peels on a large tray or baking pan and let it dry naturally over several days, regularly tossing them every day or so.

How to Store Your Dried Lemon Peels

The most effective method that keeps your dried lemon peels longlasting is achieved by pouring them into an airtight container, and keeping them at room temperature. You may also choose to transform them into powder using a blender or spice grinder.

If properly stored, dried lemon peels will last up to a year!