Learn to dehydrate citrus to step up your culinary game, stock your pantry with flavor, and create beautiful food art for your family!
While citrus season is in the late winter and early spring in North America, good citrus varieties are available all year around. You can take advantage of a great harvest season or a good sale at any time.
Citrus of all varieties (lemons, limes, grapefruit, oranges, kumquats, etc.), make an easy first project for dehydrators. A simple slice and dry is all that is needed!
Let's get started!
How to Dehydrate Citrus
Quick-drying FAQ: Dry at 125°F/52°C for 18-36+ hours, until slices snap when cooled.
Wash citrus well. Even if using organic, you need to soak and wash the citrus to remove any residue and wax that may be on the skins.
Soak in a 50/50 solution of water and vinegar for about 15 minutes. Scrub with baking soda if you feel it necessary.
Tip: If using a mandoline or meat slicer, cut the end of the citrus fruit to give yourself a flat surface.
Place slices on trays. You can pack them fairly close together without overlapping. Some airflow is nice, but they don't need a ton of space, nor will they shrink much.
Dry at 125°F/52°C or lower for 18-36+ hours.
While the recommended temperature for fruit is 135°F/57°C, citrus often browns during the drying phase as the sugars brown from the heat. Dropping the temperature can help prevent that, though you do have to add a little more time to the drying process.
You can use a liner such as silicone mesh or parchment paper, but it's not generally necessary.
Tip: Flip your slices after the three to four hour mark, and every five hours to keep them from sticking to your trays.
Test. Allow a sample or two to come to room temperature. It is fully dry when you can snap it in two easily, and there is no moisture in the cells of the flesh.
Store in an airtight container for up to eighteen months, though you'll likely get a much longer time with proper storage techniques.
How to Use Dried Citrus Slices
Your dehydrated slices will look so pretty in your containers on their own, but they have so many more uses than simply throwing in a bowl of potpourri.
- Roast chicken: Place slices in the cavity or make a bed for the chicken to sit on.
- Place slices on fish to bake.
- Slip into a glass of water or tea to bring a bright citrus flavor.
- Dip in chocolate to eat as treats or share as gifts
- As a garnish on cocktails
- Decorating (Remember to spray with a protective coating if displaying citrus on a wreath or other decoration for any period of time to seal it)
How to Dehydrate Citrus Zest
If you want the zest from any citrus variety, you can do it on its own, and still dehydrate the leftover citrus slices.
Simply use your favorite zester to remove the zest (minus the white pith), lay between two paper towels and allow to air dry for a day or so.
You can also place them in a coffee filter on your dehydrating trays and dry at 95F until dry.
Store in an airtight container and use in place of fresh zest if you're out.
Dehydrating Citrus Varieties
You can get more specific information on drying your favorite type of citrus here:
How to Make Citrus Powder
Dry fruit thoroughly with the instructions above. It's important that your citrus slices be completely dry before powdering.
- Break slices up into the grinder of your choice. I happen to use a NutriNinja most often, but a coffee grinder or large blender works well, too.
- Pulse your grinder four or five times before commencing to a sustained grind.
- Strain out the powder with a fine-mesh strainer, then grind the leftover bits again.
- Condition: Place powder on parchment paper on a cookie sheet in a warmed (but off) oven OR back into your dehydrator in coffee filters, muffin papers, etc. to dry for 15-30 min
- Allow to come to room temperature, then store in an airtight container, preferably with a moisture absorber. Follow these tips to prevent clumping in citrus powder
LEARN MORE: 25+ Ways to Use Fruit Powder
Commonly asked questions
Typically, most dehydrated foods are best within a twelve to eighteen month window that you dry them, according to the National Center for Home Food Preservation. However, with proper airtight storage techniques, you're likely to get much longer time from them.
While citrus peels are edible, you need to weigh the organic vs. conventional citrus debate about clean fruit.
Rinds can also be very bitter depending on the pith within the fruit and how much there is. I personally find the citrus peels too bitter because of the pith, and I dry the slices, then peel the rind off and eat the flesh of the fruit.
Time is relative when dehydrating. It depends on your machine, your home's humidity, the moisture in your fruit, how thick you've cut the slices, etc. Use the time mentioned as a window of time, not an exact. Keep drying if they aren't fully dried, yet!
And if you want to see how to make and store citrus powder - watch now!
- Citrus of your choice
- Wash citrus well
- Slice into ¼ slices
- Dry at 125F°C / 52°C for 18-36 hours
- Dry when they snap when cooled and no moisture is evident
- Store in an airtight container