5 Ways to Make the Most Out of Your Lemons and Reduce Waste Now!

There are thousands of ways to use lemon juice. Have you ever used the peel to make candy and a broth? 

Lemon juice is easy.  Drink it straight up or add into your favorite baked goods for a delicious zing. 

But, C’mon lets have a bit of a challenge.  Have you used the entire lemon? And not just blending the whole lemon but actually using it to make more than one deliciously lemon product.

Did you know you can use (almost) the WHOLE lemon! 

That’s right! Nothing goes to waste (except for the seeds. I’ve tried planting them but I have had no luck yet. If you know a trick to get a lemon tree to grow from seeds I would love to know!).

The steps are designed to make it easy to lower your waste when using lemons.  So, if you don’t have enough time to complete the process, you can stop at any step.  So here we go…

4 easy steps = 5 lemon products and only seeds are left behind.

Here is what you’ll need to create all 5 lemons products:

  • Ice tray
  • Sharp knife
  • Zester
  • Granulated sugar (1 cup for simple syrup & ¼ cup for coating the candy)
  • saucepan 
  • Air-tight storage containers (2) (1- for simple syrup and 1-for lemon broth)
  • Wire wrack
  • Pan or towel for underneath the rack to catch the excess sugar
  • Lemon(s)

Step 1Zest the Lemon Skin (2 min)

Before you cut the lemons, zest the skin. It’s easier when the lemons are whole. Take care to only zest the yellow part of the skin.  The white part (pith) underneath is bitter so be careful not to zest the same place more than once (I timed myself and it took less than 2 min to zest a large lemon).  

Use the zest now or let air dry and save for later (store in air tight container). As it dries it looses some of its lemon-y flavor.  So if you want a stronger lemon flavor use within a day, otherwise add an extra pinch of dried zest.

A white plate on black background with a whole lemon on the left, the zest of the lemon in the middle and the green handled zester on the left

































Step 2: Juice (5 min)

Quarter the lemons and remove the peel from the lemon wedge (the part with all the juice; see photo to the right). Save the peel because we use that later.  Next Juice as you would normally.
I add the juice to an ice cube tray and freeze for use as flavor in ice water, to season vegetables (just add it to the pan) or a brine for meats.  After you’re done, the picture below shows you what is left.  Lemon juice (my lemon produced 2 Oz or ~¼ cup from 1 lemon!), seeds, pulp and peels. 

on a cutting board, a hand juicer, a cup of lemon juice, the used lemon pulp, a small pile of lemon seeds, and lemon peels

Step 3: Boil the Peels to Produce Lemon Broth (10-15 min)

(NOTE!!: if you want to make candy skip this step and go straight to Step 4.)

You must slice the lemon peels before boiling. You’ll still get your lemon broth for cleaning; don’t you worry.Use the broth for cleaning.  Add 2 part lemon broth to 1 part vinegar for an all-purpose cleaning spray. If you don’t want to do make lemon peel candy, then after boiling, compost the peels for use in the garden or go on to STEP 4 to make Candy.   

A stovetop with a small pot of boiling water with sliced lemon peels.

Step 4: Lemon Peel Candy (60- 90 min prep + 8-10 hours to dry)

 It takes a bit more time to make the lemon peel candy  because we have to remove a thin layer of the white pith from the inside of the skin.  Remove a thin layer of the white pith (the inside of the lemon peel).  There are veins (little strings) that should be removed for better texture of the candy.  As shown below.
cutting a thin layer of the white pith from the inside of lemon peel

Next slice the lemon peels into ¼-1/8 “ wide strips.  This doesn’t need to be exact. 

on a black background, bright yellow sliced lemon peels

Cover the peels in water, just enough to cover, then boil for 5 min. Repeat this step 3x. (Save the broth from this step to make lemon scented vinegar cleaning spray.)

A stovetop with a small pot of boiling water with sliced lemon peels.

Add 1 cup sugar to 1 cup water and boil for 45 min. or until translucent. Drain this sugar water (Voila! Your simple syrup) into air-tight container for other recipes. (I store in fridge so it’ll last longer)

This step is important!  Add drained peels to a bowl of granulated sugar. It’s important to have enough sugar to coat the peels or it won’t crystallize.  You’ll end up with soggy sweet lemon peels. (Yes. I know this from experience. :P) For one lemon, I used about ¼ cup of sugar. Lay the peels out on wire rack to dry.  To dry it  may take anywhere from a few hours to overnight.

And there you have it! You did it! And now there is a little bit less waste and a little bit more sweetness in the world

Boiled lemon peel candy laying on wire wrack after being coated in sugar

One side note: you can make orange peel candy too.

So when life gives you lemons say “thank you” and make candy!

Questions? How did your no-waste lemon process go?

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