Something From Nothing: Dried Orange Zest

something from nothing graphic

A large part of frugality is being careful about what you spend. You know, don’t waste your grocery money on Twinkies and Oreos and then say you can’t afford organic fruits and vegetables.

But an often overlooked aspect of frugality is being careful with what you already have. As our grandparents said, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” Our generation is just starting to grasp this concept, but we’ve got a long way to go. Take a clue from those who lived through the Depression and the Great War, and learn to use up every last bit of everything before you throw it out. 

Personally, I find it a rather fun challenge to see if I can find a new use for something that I used to just mindlessly throw away. For example, making an elegant dessert out of stale bread, or turning egg cartons into gift packaging. Or turning orange rinds into gourmet orange peel granules. Sure, you could pay $9 for someone else’s orange peel trash… or you could make your own and save your $9.

orange peel

Trash into treasure. Something from nothing. It’s like you’re a magician. 

The process is pretty simple. All you have to do is this:

  • If your orange is not organic, wash it very carefully before peeling it.
  • Peel your orange (or clementine, or tangerine) and eat it. Yum, yum!
  • Take the pieces of the peel and lay them on a plate. Leave them there for about 24 hours.
  • Run the dried orange peel through a coffee grinder (A clean coffee grinder, please. You don’t want coffee grinds mixed in with your dried orange zest!)
  • Store in an empty spice container (see all the trash you’re turning into treasure?!)
You can also store the dried orange peels in their entirety, and just grind them as you need them. Whatever’s easiest!
The people who know (those gourmet foodie types) recommend removing the pith (that white stuff that sticks to the inside of the peel) to avoid a bitter aftertaste in your orange zest. This is great advice that I usually don’t follow. Personally, I think it’s only a real issue if you’re going to simmer the peels for a long time in something like broth or spiced cider. (Or maybe it’s because I only ever use clementines. I hate oranges with a passion, mostly because they have a lot more pith and membrane than clementines. I mean, by the time you get to the good stuff, you’ve discarded half the orange!) But if you want to take that extra step, I actually recommend that you remove the pith after it’s dried and not before. It scrapes off really easily with the back of a small paring knife when it’s dry. At least with clementines. As I mentioned, I have no experience with real oranges because I avoid them like the plague. (Maybe I should retitle this post “Dried Clementine Zest”. Hmmm.)
Now what to do with those orange-y bits of goodness? Use them pretty much in the same way you would use fresh orange zest. Here are some of my favorite uses:
The possibilities are practically endless! Anywhere you want a little orange flavor, throw in your dried orange zest and voila! Instant orange clementine yumminess.
What’s your favorite something-from-nothing trick?
Linking up to Monday Mania, and…
Homemakers Challenge



  1. Love it! I totally read this while eating an orange, and now I’m regretting the orange peel I conscientiously slipped into the trash before I sat down.
    Thankfully, I have other oranges, and I think I’ll stop freaking out that they aren’t organic peels, and zest them anyway. Baby steps into healthy eating and all that.
    Steph (The Cheapskate Cook) recently posted..Lessons from Africa: Food is Awesome

  2. I think I need a coffee grinder.
    Stacy Makes Cents recently posted..Fix and Forget Friday – Crock Pot Texas Calico Chili

  3. I prefer the taste of fresh zest, but I use a grater (the small holed one you use for hard cheeses) and then I put it in a small tub and freeze it (and then eat the orange of course!). It lasts forever and I can add it to my Swedish Visiting Cake when I make it (you are supposed to use lemon zest, but those Swedes appreciate a bit of creativity, right?)

    • I have frozen it before as well, great tip! I find that drying it is easier for me – and I’m all about doing what is the easiest, lol. And that Swedish Visiting Cake sounds yum- o! I think I should come visit:)

  4. I just got thru dehydrating a whole bunch of orange peel.. some from Texas and some from California… They taste different but they’re both yummy.

    I’ve never tasted that bitterness that others talk about being in the pith.. Not sure why..

    Something else you can dry to use later is lettuce that is wilted & past its prime. You can either slice it in strips and put it in soups, or dry it, then crush it in soups. Its tasty but you rarely hear anyone talk about putting lettuce greens in soups.

  5. This is a wonderful idea! My hubby can’t have too much citrus bc it gives him cold sores, but my kids & I could make use of this idea! :)
    Rachel @ day2day joys recently posted..Sizzlin’ Soups Series: Sausage & Kale Italian Zuppa

  6. I keep a bag of orange peels in my freezer. I use 2 oranges’ worth of peel at a time to make a quart of hot cider (just put the the peels in the apple juice along with cinnamon and whole cloves and simmer for a while). I made marmalade once, but I just don’t like the stuff. Right now, I have a lot of rinds in my freezer bag, so making candied orange peels is on my to-do list.
    Rachel recently posted..KTT: Avoiding Splatters

    • Making candied orange peels is also on my to-do list! I used to keep my orange peels in the freezer but I just run out of room in our tiny freezer! I find it much easier to store them dry.


  1. […] Dried Orange Zest – Dry the peels so you can have citrus zest any time you want it! […]

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