Citrus Powders: How-to


Make Lemon, Lime, Orange or Grapefruit Powders to Use in Your Cooking


Using lemon, lime, and orange citrus powders is a great way to enhance your cooking. And the best news? These powders have no artificial sweeteners, colors, alcohol, sodium, or preservatives.Got your own citrus trees? Store all that harvest goodness in a small amount of space by drying and powdering your own fruits.

Add intense flavor, use citrus without wasting that 1/2 of a lemon that recipe didn’t call for, and save loads of money when these items are on sale or in season. Use citrus powders in place of fresh zest or those expensive extracts.

You will always have that intense flavor on hand to add to any dish you like. Tropical Chicken, Citrus Teas, Lemon Poppyseed Muffins, and delicious sauces have all benefitted from my citrus powders at Casa Colleen. I use more than 25 pounds worth of powdered lemons per year in everything from drink mixes to my herb/spice blends. I store my citrus powders in vacuum sealed bags equal to the size of my spice shakers and refill the shakers when empty. It is a great way to wake up the flavors of any dish!

A Note about Grapefruit Powder

Grapefruits are processed and made into powders the same way as other citrus fruits. However, I recommend separating the peel and pulp from the pith (white part). In my experience, the pith of the grapefruits I have used are very bitter. This will adulterate your powders into a bitter-tasting flavoring.

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Uses for Citrus Powders

Citrus Powders are perfect for:

  • Baked goods like cookies, cakes, frostings (recipe below), and glazes. Add right into the mix or shake a dash for extra citrus flavor. Think delicious Lemon Icing or homemade lemon flavored shortbread cookies!
  • Add to marinades or rubs for a for a zesty citrus taste and aroma and to naturally tenderize your meats.
  • Make a nice Béchamel white sauce with lemon powder for Eggs Benedict or add to tomato sauces to enhance the flavors.
  • Mix lemon powder into your iced tea (recipe below) or make a citrus blend or orange spice tea blend like Constant Comment.
  • Flavor your Margaritas or Mojitos with lime powder syrup (recipe below). Or, instead of a salt rimmed stemware glass, try lime or lemon powder….no sodium!
  • Infuse your waters with citrus powders or add sugar and make your own lemonade, limeade, or orangeade (recipe below).
  • Add to herb/spice blends to brighten up the flavors or make your own lemon pepper seasoning (recipe below). Enhance the flavor of your next meal or cookout with Tangy Lemon Pepper Chicken or a mouth-watering Lemon Herb Blend.
  • Use lemon or lime powder as a salt-substitute to add flavor to food without adding salt (recipe below).

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Approximate Measuring Equivalents

Lemons:

  • 1 pound lemons = 4 to 5 medium lemons
  • 1 pound lemons = 2/3 to 1 cup juice
  • 1 medium lemon = 2 tablespoons juice
  • 1 medium-sized lemon =1 tablespoon lemon zest

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Limes:

  • 1 pound medium limes = 5 limes
  • 1 pound medium limes = 1/2 to 2/3 cup juice
  • 1 medium lime = 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 medium lime = 2 teaspoons lime zest

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Oranges:

  • 1 pound oranges = 3 to 4 medium-sized oranges
  • 1 pound oranges = 3/4 to 1 cup juice
  • 1 medium orange = 4 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 medium orange = 2 to 3 tablespoons orange zest

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Powders

Note: The citrus powders depend largely upon strength with the various parts of the citrus you are drying. The grated peel will have a more intense flavor than the citrus fruit whole. Flavor will also vary between citrus growing varieties. These equivalents are a good place to start your measurements but, as with any homemade product, always feel free to adjust to your own tastes.

  • 1 teaspoon dried lemon powder = about half a lemon but can be adjusted for taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried citrus powder = 1 tablespoon lemon, lime or orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried citrus peel powder = 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon, lime or orange zest (While it’s just as strong as its fresh counterpart, powdered zest has a more mellow, robust flavor—not quite as acidic.)
  • 1 teaspoon dried citrus peel powder = 1/2 teaspoon lemon, lime or orange extract

Tips:

  • To substitute citrus powders for 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon, lime, or orange juice, briskly stir 1 teaspoon of powder into 2 tablespoons of hot water and allow to cool.
  • In some recipes, it may be necessary or desirable to add an equal amount of water to replace the moisture the lemon, lime or orange juice provides. Example: if a cake recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, use 1 teaspoon of lemon powder and 2 tablespoons of water.

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What Parts Can You Use?

The whole fruit can be used. Most people prefer to use organic citrus whenever the rind or peel is involved, but that is totally your call. Fruits are washed in a produce wash to remove bacteria and some pesticides or you can use a vinegar soak. If you use the whole fruit, you are going to get about 1-2 tablespoon(s) of powder per fruit depending on the size.

If you are juicing your pulp or using it in other ways, you can opt to just dehydrate the rest of the citrus fruit by slicing it into pieces and drying the pieces, then grinding. Taste the pith or the white part first to decide if it can be included. I have found that in some instances, the pith does not detract from the flavor,but that is your call.

The other option is to only dehydrate the zest or outer peel by grating or microplanning the colored part of the outer fruit.

Cutting Collage

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Dehydrating Citrus

NOTE: When dehydrating citrus, it can darken. If this is a concern, see our article on troubleshooting. This does not really matter in processing citrus or their peels for powders however, so we have given the higher temperatures in processing your fruit to save time.

  1. Wash fruit well, soaking in a vinegar solution or produce solution for 15 minutes. It helps to scrub the skins after soaking with some baking soda to remove as much debris as possible from the skins themselves since you will probably be using this part as well. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry.
  2. If you are using the whole fruit, slice in 1/4 inch pieces with a mandolin slicer, meat slicer, or knife and carefully remove the seeds.
    If just using the outside peel, you can use a microplane, potato peeler, zester, or grater to separate the zest from the rest of the fruit.
    If using the whole peel, you can use a pair of kitchen shears or a knife to thinly slice into no more than 1/4 inch strips.
  3. Place evenly on dehydrator drying racks. If just drying zest or peel strips, it is best to use a mesh insert as the pieces will shrink up.Dehydrating Collage
  4. Set dehydrator at 125°F/50°C for about 12-24 hours or until crispy.
    If you wish to control the darkening, process your slices at 115°F/45°C. These slices will take longer. Start checking for dryness around 18 hours and remove as soon as they are completely dry to keep from darkening.
  5. Check the level of dryness during the dehydrating process and move the trays around so everything dries as evenly as possible if needed.
  6. When the citrus is dry it should snap in half easily and be shrunken into little pieces if just using the peel. Make sure all fruit is completely dry. If there’s any moisture left in them, the powder will be clumpy and it will quickly become moldy.

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Air-Drying Citrus

NOTE: Not recommended for high humidity areas.

  1. Wash and dry fruit thoroughly before cutting.
  2. Cut into shaved slices no more than 3/8 inch thick or grate peels with a microplane, cheese grater, or pulsed in a food processor. If slicing, cut the fruit into paper-thin, even slices.Air drying
  3. Spread the sliced or grated ginger root in a single layer onto a parchment-lined baking sheet with a stainless steel drying rack or a bamboo tray strainer/screen.
  4. Place the baking sheet of citrus slices on your kitchen counter with a light, protective cover (like cheesecloth) over the tray(s). Check and turn the pieces each day. Depending on the climate/humidity, it can take anywhere from three days to upwards of a week to completely dry.
  5. If you are lucky enough to have a gas oven with a pilot light, you can use your oven to help dry the citrus pieces. Simply put the baking trays into the UNHEATED oven to dry. Do NOT use the bamboo trays in an oven as it is a fire hazard.

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Powders Collage

Grinding Citrus Powders

  1. Grind into a powder with a mortar and pestle, coffee grinder, or high-powered blender like a Vitamix, Blendtec, or NutriBullet.
  2. Be sure to seal the lid well if using grinder or blender. As well, make sure the dust has settled inside the grinder before removing the lid.
  3. Because citrus is more fibrous break them up first and pulse your machine for several minutes until you no longer hear pieces clicking around inside the canister.
  4. If you still have pieces within the powder, sift these out and re-grind.
  5. If it does not grind to a powder and you experience clumping, the pieces are not dry enough. Put the powder back into the dehydrator and dry at the same temperature for another hour or so. Re-grind if necessary.
  6. Store it in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. As long as the powder is stored properly, it will last 6 months to 1 year.

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Recipes

Southern Iced Tea

Makes 2 quarts

Recipe-Southern Iced TeaIngredients
3 tablespoons loose black tea or 4 tablespoons dried red raspberry leaves*
1 teaspoon lemon powder
4 cups boiling water
1 cup sugar or honey or 1/4 teaspoon stevia leaf powder (optional)
4 cups room temperature water or ice

Directions

  1. Add black tea leaves or raspberry leaves and lemon powder to a tea ball or tea bag. Drop into a 2-quart, heat-safe glass pitcher or jar.
  2. Add 4 cups of boiling water and allow to steep for 5 minutes (black tea leaves) to 7 minutes (red raspberry leaves).
  3. Remove tea leaf mixture.
  4. If you wish to sweeten your tea, dissolve sugar, honey, or stevia powder in the hot brew and stir thoroughly.
  5. To drink your iced tea immediately, pour the double-strength infusion directly over ice.
  6. To drink later, dilute your double strength infusion with room temperature water. Let stand at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. Then place in your refrigerator.

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Notes: For a stronger brew, don’t steep longer, just use more tea leaves. Attempting to steep the tea longer for a stronger brew will only result in a bitter tea.

*You can also use 2 family-sized tea bags or 8 single-sized tea bags. The red raspberry leaves make this tea an herbal, naturally decaffeinated version and tastes great!

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Lemonade, Limeade, or Orangeade

Makes 2 quarts

Cocktail with orange juice and ice cubes

Ingredients
8 cups hot  water
1/4 cup citrus powder of choice (lemon, lime, or orange powder)
1 cup sugar or honey or 1/4 teaspoon stevia leaf powder

Directions

  1. Add citrus powder to a tea bag or infuser. Drop into a 2-quart, heat-safe glass pitcher or jar.
  2. Add hot water and allow to steep for 10 minutes.
  3. Add sweetener of choice and stir, mixing thoroughly.
  4. Let stand at room temperature for another 10 minutes. Stir again. Remove citrus powder container or leave in, your choice.
  5. Place in refrigerator to chill before drinking.

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Notes:

  • You can use ANY fruit powder to achieve the same results as you may make Kool Aid or other drinks. The important distinction to understand here is that your fruit powders, because they still contain all the fiber of the natural fruits, will not completely dissolve. If the resulting sediment bothers you, use an infuser or disposable tea bag to trap the fibrous sediment in your drinks.
  • Try mixing it up. A mix of 2 tablespoons orange powder and 1 tablespoon each of lemon and lime powder makes a fabulous drink! Think of all the combinations you can make with your fruit powders. How about strawberry-banana? Or “triple berry” with strawberry, raspberry, and blackberry?
  • Try club soda, sparkling water, or seltzer water for a nice twist to the classic flavored “ade”.

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Lemon Pepper Blend

Makes 3/4 cup

Recipe-LemonPepper SeasoningIngredients
8 tablespoons peppercorns (You can use whatever color of pepper you like. I use a nice mixed peppercorn blend.)
1 tablespoon lemon powder
1/4 cup course sea salt

Directions

  1. Mix the lemon, peppercorns, and salt together. Fill a pepper grinder with the mix for the freshest and tastiest lemon pepper.
  2. You can also grind your ingredients up to get a fine lemon pepper powder mix.
  3. For best flavor, store away from heat and light for up to 6 months.

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Salt-Free Version: If you want to make a salt-free version, just leave out the salt. You will have to increase your measurements to fill your shaker and use less on your food as this mixture will be much stronger.

Uses: Lemon pepper seasoning is good on so many things; pasta, carrots, chicken, fish. Don’t forget about popcorn and chips!

Note: Commercially available lemon pepper may also include smaller amounts of other ingredients such as salt, sugar, onion, garlic, citric acid, added lemon flavor, cayenne pepper, and other spices, depending on the brand.

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Better-Than-Salt Herb Blend

Makes 1 cup

This recipe is for dried herbs. If you have your own herb garden, do try drying your own.

Ingredients
3 Bay leaves, finely chopped
4 tablespoons Oregano
4 tablespoons Onion powder
1 tablespoon Lemon zest, dried or 2 teaspoons lemon powder
4 teaspoons Marjoram
4 teaspoons Basil leaves
4 teaspoons Winter savory, ground
4 teaspoons Garlic powder
2 teaspoons Rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon Sage
1 teaspoon Thyme
1 teaspoon Black pepper, ground

Directions

  1. Mix and crush to a coarse powder with a mortar and pestle or a small blender or food processor.
  2. For best flavor, store away from heat and light for up to 6 months.

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Uses: This Herb Blend is delicious on salad greens, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, fish, hamburgers, meat loaves, steaks, omelets, etc.

Try mixing this Herb Blend with a stick of butter. Let stand in refrigerator for a day of two for good flavor. Use herb butter on vegetables, breads, meats, fish, etc.

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Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes enough frosting for one 8-inch 2-layer cake or 36 cupcakes

Recipe-Orange Cream Cheese FrostingIngredients
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons orange powder
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners’ sugar

Directions

  1. Blend the cream cheese, butter, orange powder, and vanilla in a large bowl, using an electric mixer set at medium speed, until smooth.
  2. Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and creamy, about 3 more minutes.
  3. Chill the frosting, covered, until ready to ice the cupcakes or cake.

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Try this with carrot cake, spice cake, pumpkin bread, or our chocolate cake recipe. They are all yummy!

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Lime Syrup for Cocktails or Desserts

Lime syrup is great as an addition to many dessert dishes and as an accompaniment to certain drinks needing a zesty lift. This syrup can be served neat with desserts, warmed or cold.

Recipe-margaritaIngredients
2 tablespoons lime powder
2 cups fine/caster sugar*
1 cup water

Directions

  1. Mix the lime powder, sugar, and water in a heavy saucepan.
  2. Stir over medium heat until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  3. Turn heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and continue cooking for 1 minute.
  4. Remove from heat and allow cooling a bit before serving as a warm sauce. Allow to cool completely before serving as cold syrup.
  5. Store in the refrigerator for 2–3 weeks.

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*You can grind white sugar in a food processor or blender to get the same results.


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2 thoughts on “Citrus Powders: How-to

  1. Valerie Cassenti says:

    Thank you for this detailed instructive article!

    1. Admin says:

      You are most welcome Valerie 🙂

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