Lemon Peel: Flavor Profile
Lemon zest is made from the outermost portion of the lemon peel. The white membrane is removed, and the flesh is grated and dried. The peel contains the highest oil content, which provides plenty of tangy lemon flavor and flowery aroma. You’ll find that dried peel tends to have a more subdued flavor that’s sweeter and richer than fresh zest.
Dried lemon peel has many uses in the kitchen. It works great as a substitute for fresh lemon zest in baked goods or marinades, as a seasoning for summer ales and saisons, or for a slash of citrusy zest in salad dressings and sauces.
Lemon Peel: Culinary Uses
Most commonly, lemon peel is called for in sweet baked goods and desserts. Marmalades, pies, cookies and cakes are some of the most common dishes that feature lemon zest. Yet, citrus works in many savory dishes too. Lemon zest is the perfect acid for a marinade, it works in rice dishes, and perfectly complements chicken or fish. A few common uses include:
- Infusions – Add dried lemon peels to water when boiling rice to create a sweet, zesty rice pilaf. If you’d rather not have the peels in the dish, use cheesecloth to easily remove them.
- Garnish – Ground lemon peels make a great garnish for baked goods. Just mix with a bit of sugar and you’ll add a burst of sweet-zesty flavor.
- Roasting – Dried peels provide sweet citrus to roasted vegetables and meats. The peels are commonly used in Middle Eastern cooking to bring zesty, bitter notes to savory dishes.
- Teas – Add lemon peels to your favorite tea blends for a dash of flavor. Dried peel is loaded with flavor and it can enliven just about any cup.
Although the origin of the lemon is fully known, the fruit is thought to have been first cultivated in Burma, China or northeast India. Genetic profiles of the fruit show that it shares genes with bitter orange and citron.
In historical literature, lemons first appeared in ancient Rome around 200 A.D., especially in the southern parts of the country. And during this time, it’s thought the lemon tree was also distributed throughout Persia, Iraq and Egypt. As early as the 10th century, lemon trees were planted as ornamentals in gardens in Egypt and Persia.
Lemons weren’t widely cultivated commercially for many years. The Italians were the first to cultivate the fruit, with early records coming out of Genoa in the 15th century. During the 15th century, lemons were distributed to the Americas. Christopher Columbus is believed to have brought lemon seeds to the Caribbean, and throughout the early modern period, they became widely grown in Florida and California.
Today, India is the world’s largest producer of lemons, with Mexico and China holding the No. 2 and No. 3 spot.
Lemon is one of the most important citrus crops around the world. Like most citrus fruits, the lemon tree requires warm temperatures to thrive (45 degrees at minimum).
Lemon trees typically grow to 10-20 feet in height, depending on the variety. And produce a mildly fragrant flower. There are numerous lemon varietals. Some of the most popular were cultivated and bred in the U.S. The Armstrong lemon, for example, is a mostly seedless fruit known for its sweeter fruits, which was first cultivated in Riverside, CA.
Avon lemons – originally produced in Arcadia, FL – is another popular variety, known for its tartness. Meyer lemons, though, are commonly produced in the U.S., and are known for their sweetness. Meyer lemons are a cross of lemon and mandarin orange that originated in China.
About Our Lemon Peel
Our Lemon peel comes from a boutique Citrus grower in the rolling hills of Olivenhain, CA. Located north of San Diego and miles from the Pacific Ocean, our farm produces a wide range of lemons. We tested lemons from around the world, and Olivenhain-grown lemons consistently produce a zest that’s sweet, yet tart, aromatic and rich in flavor.