Lemon is a wonderful fruit filled with ascorbic acid AKA vitamin C. It’s also known for its many health benefits that are often associated with detoxification and weight loss. Moreover, this fruit can be used in a wide range of recipes, making it a must-have in the kitchen.
Many people use lemon to add a little kick of sourness into their recipes while baking. Others like to turn it into juice to cool them down on a hot summer day, while some mix a slice to make lemon water to detox.
Sadly, some of the recipes require just a pinch or a slice of the lemon. And it’s known that the fruit can stay good for only two to three weeks as a whole or 3 to 4 days when sliced.
To help save you from frequently going to the market or wasting lemons, here are several awesome ways of storing this sour fruit for a longer time—yes, you’re going to learn about dehydrating lemons.
Drying or dehydrating is a technique used to prolong the shelf life of produce and the closest way to preserving its essence. It’s usually done by slicing whatever needs to be dehydrated and placing it in a drying apparatus.
Easy Methods of Dehydrating Lemons at Home
Preparing the lemon
There are two safe and quick ways of dehydrating lemons, both of which will need specific equipment. But before you begin, you’ll need to prepare the lemon for the process.
This step is actually quite easy. Wash the lemon in running water. After all, the skins will be included in the drying process. Remove the seeds with the tip of a knife.
You’ll then have to slice the lemon. Make sure each slice is around 1/4th of an inch thick. A Mandoline slicer would make this a lot easier. Lay the slices down on a tray lined with baking paper.
See to it that there’s enough space that the pieces don’t touch each other. With that ready, you can now start with the method that matches the equipment you have at home.
Dehydrating lemons in the oven
Although not every household may have an oven, it is more common than a dehydrator.
- First, pre-heat the oven to 150 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit (some even go up to 225 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Place the tray in the oven and bake. It can take anywhere from 2 to 12 hours to over dry a lemon depending on the thickness of each slice and the water content. Flip the lemon slices every hour.
Don’t forget to constantly check on the lemon to see its status. If the lemon is “browning” too quickly (which would definitely affect its quality), you might have to turn down the heat.
Dehydrating lemons in the dehydrator
The dehydrator, as its name suggests, is a machine that’s specifically used to dehydrate various food.
All you have to do is arrange the lemon on its tray and turn the dehydrator on. Set its temperature to 125 or 135 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the suggested temperature of your dehydrator.
Like the oven, drying time will vary on how thick each slice is and its water content. So be ready to check on your lemons from the two-hour mark until the drying process is done. Don’t forget to rotate the tray for even drying.
READ ALSO: Which Food Dehydrator is Right for You
Proper storage of dried lemons
Now that you’re done dehydrating lemons, it’s time to learn how to properly store it once it has cooled down. Like dehydration, there are a couple of ways to do this.
If you plan to consume the dehydrated slices of lemon pretty soon, you can simply store it in an airtight mason jar. Place it away from direct sunlight to preserve the flavor and prolong shelf life. You can even place an oxygen absorber inside to preserve as much flavor as possible.
Saving it long term, on the other hand, will need a little bit more than a simple jar. You’ll have to get a plastic bag that can be vacuum-sealed or, at the very least, use a Mylar bag with an oxygen absorber. Using these items will lessen the air it’s exposed to, allowing the lemon to last longer without losing much of its flavor when it is time to use it.
Uses of Dehydrated Lemons
Aside from longer shelf life, what other uses are there for dehydrated lemons?
There are many ways to enjoy dehydrated lemons. The easiest is to add a slice to a glass of water to come up with lemon water. It doesn’t seem like much but it has many health benefits.
Lemon water is said to offer high levels of vitamin C while containing less sugar and calories than similar beverages. This drink can also help treat kidney stones according to studies, while water aids metabolism and increases the feeling of fullness.
You can also use the zest to make lemon tea. Simply mix the lemon peels into green or black tea while it steeps. If you’re into sour treats, all you have to do is to peel off the zest and eat the flesh. Instant lemon candy!
Dehydrated lemon can be used as seasoning. Pulverize it and add it to your favorite recipe that needs that citrus kick in it. You can also use it for broth or marinades to add more flavor, especially for sweet and sour dishes. Some even use it as chasers for their favorite alcoholic drink.
A worthwhile activity
Dehydrating lemons seems like a tedious task, but the benefits – be it flavor or health wise – are just too many to ignore. Knowing how to dry and store lemons properly can spell the difference between a dull flavored meal and a healthy, zesty dish or drink.
And in case you have too many leftovers, you can always pack slices of dried lemon and sell it to your friends and officemates—though be sure to set a competitive price (dried lemon can easily be bought from the supermarket after all). This way, you’ll be able to share the benefits of having dried lemons and earn from it at the same time.