Sunny Citrus Recipes + How to Use Lots of Citrus

Favorite citrus recipes and all the ways I put a big box of citrus to use this week. Oranges, Meyer and Eureka lemons, mandarins, and grapefruits are all in the mix.

Sunny Citrus Recipes + How to Use Lots of Citrus

The abundance of homegrown citrus this time of year in Los Angeles is a peak reason I love being a Californian. You see front yard Meyer lemon trees groaning with yellow orbs. Pomelos and grapefruits frame driveways, and trees impossibly heavy with oranges regularly warrant a double-take. Being surround with this much citrus is happy-making. Especially if you can get your hands on it. And did I ever. My dad’s neighbors generously dropped off a huge crate of Meyers, mandarins, oranges, and Eureka lemons the other day - a legit "bend with your knees" box. So here I am jotting down the ways I’ve been using it, saving it, and the citrus recipes I’ve been making all week.

Ginger Grapefruit Curd

A Week in Citrus

I thought I’d start by talking through everything I’ve done with citrus in the past week. It has been a mix! I’ll include recipes down below for the pastes and syrups.

  • Kosho: I started a batch of Meyer lemon kosho. Kosho is traditionally a spicy, fermented Japanese Yuzu paste, but because lemons are more plentiful here, I tend to use them.
  • Citrus Peel Pastes: I also blended Meyer lemon, Eureka, and orange peels into a number of quick (unfermented) pastes, and froze them in single use quantities. I’ll write up the recipes down below. I use them to season and boost everything! From pastas and soups to rice bowls and roasted vegetable tacos.
  • Most of the mandarins were simply peeled and popped into mouths, but a few have made it into my favorite citrus salad (I’ll highlight that down below).
  • Meyer Lemon & Rose Geranium No-heat Syrup: I love the intensity of no-heat syrups, and made a thick, intensely flavored Meyer lemon syrup by massaging lots of lemon peel with sugar and rose geranium leaves.
  • Orange No-heat Syrup: Same process as the lemon syrup, but kept it to orange peel here. See the recipe below.
  • Citrus Ice Cubes: After peeling citrus and making pastes or syrups, all of the juice was frozen in ice cube trays for future use in drinks, granitas, soups, etc.

Favorite Citrus Salad from Super Natural Simple Cookbook

My Favorite Citrus Salad

I love this salad. It has a mix of citrus segments, peanuts, red onions, a few saffron threads and almond extract along with good olive oil. The recipe is in Super Natural Simple which will be out next month. There's more information (and so many good soups & salads) here.

Oranges Being Peeled

How To Efficiently Peel Citrus

Ok, let's talk about peeling citrus. There was a lot of it going on this week. Peeling citrus isn’t a quick task. Know that going in, and you’ll enjoy the process much more. I basically have three moves (see below). 1. Start with clean, dry citrus, and slice citrus from top to bottom in wide slabs. Some peelers work well at this stage, but I often just use a knife. 2. Trim all the bitter pith away. To do this, keep the peel flat agains the cutting board, and trim away from yourself. 3. Scrape any remaining pith from peel with the dull or “flip-side” of a knife.
How To Peel Citrus

What about the Juice?

Lots of peel means lots of juice. Sometimes we just drink it, or use it over the coming days. But, if you freeze the juice in ice cube trays you end up with easy to thaw portions for use in dressing, granitas, soups, curries - basically any place where you can imagine a sunny citrus boost!

Meyer Lemon Ice Cubes

So Many Ways To Use Citrus Peel Pastes

Citrus peel pastes are fragrant flavor blasts. You can make them as simple or complex as you want. I tend to keep mine pretty straightforward, but love the addition of garlic - quite a lot of it. You might add spice blends, mix citruses, you could use other oils in place of olive oil, etc. Here's how I put them to use after making them:

Orange & Garlic Citrus Paste (recipe below) is super garlicky and was amazing combined with a healthy amount of cayenne pepper, water, and coconut milk to make a beautiful broth for soba noodles - season with more salt to taste to make it just right. I also put a dollop on my lunchtime chana masala and loved the way it brightened everything up. It was also incredibly good dolloped on top of a bowl of this Fire Broth Noodle Soup. And lastly, I used it as a finishing accent on roasted vegetable tacos (cauliflower & mushroom) on homemade corn tortillas. Orange & Garlic Citrus Paste is pictured below.

Meyer Lemon & Garlic Citrus Paste (recipe below) was perfect tossed with a bowl of pan-fried golden artichoke hearts. The next day I tossed a generous amount  of the citrus paste with hot noodles, extra olive oil, pasta water, lots of scallions, a bit of torn mozzarella, herbs and broccoli - so good! And it was the perfect slather across the top of a simple buckwheat and gruyere crepe the other night. 
Orange Peel and Garlic Paste in a Blender

No-Heat Citrus Peel Syrups

Heating fruit changes the flavor profile. As I mentioned up above,  I love the intensity, and uncooked clarity that rings through citrus peel syrups. Made by patiently massaging citrus peels with sugar and leaving to macerate, you strain and end up with an intense, full-bodied syrup to use in countless ways. A favorite this week was an easy drinking dark rum cocktail made with a splash of orange syrup, a shot of dark rum, shaken with tons of ice and topped off with pampelmousse La Croix, and a kiss of lime juice.

Bottle of Homemade Meyer Lemon Syrup
Making Homemade Orange Syrup

Cookbooks Focused on Citrus Recipes

Citri - I love this little 60-ish page cookbook zine by Loria Stern. I've encountered Loria and her beautiful creations a number of times since moving to Los Angeles (thanks to Jessica & Joanna), and she made sure I had Citri at the perfect time - peak citrus season. It's a love letter to citrus with 25 bright and brilliant recipes.
Citri Cookbook with Pink Cover and Yellow Spiral Binding 

Also, have a look at Citrus : Sweet and Savory Sun-Kissed Recipes by Valerie Aikman-Smith and Victoria Pearson, Pucker: A Cookbook for Citrus Lovers by Gwendolyn Richards, and also Citrus: 150 Recipes Celebrating the Sweet and the Sour by Catherine Phipps. 

More Citrus Recipes from the Archives

There are a lot of citrus-centric recipes in the 101 archives, and I'll put them in the related searches below, but these two recipes have been exceptionally popular over the years. A few years back, I also linked out to a bunch of great winter citrus recipes here.
Candied Citrus Pops
Candied Citrus Lollipops: Two-ingredient magic. Plump, juicy, citrus segments coated in thin, crunchy, sugar shells. They're the perfect, delightful sweet treat.
Citrus Salt
A Spectrum of Citrus Salts: Citrus salts made from all sorts of winter citrus zest - clementines, wild lime, Meyer lemon, kalamansi oranges, and mandarinquats. Couldn't be simpler.

Let me know your favorite ultra citrus centric recipes and resources. And in the meantime, I hope you find a bit of inspiration here, especially with the citrus peel pastes. Enjoy! -h

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Orange & Garlic Citrus Paste

5 from 4 votes

I mentioned all the ways I used this paste throughout the week up in the main post. Have fun and experiment! Be sure to peel all the pith from the peels. It’s intricate work, but worth it.

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups / 6 1/2 oz / 185g orange peel (from ~10 oranges)
  • 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 2/3 cup / 100g peeled garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients into a blender. Pulse into a paste, scraping down the sides of the blender once or twice to get all the good bits mixed in. Refrigerate, and freeze any paste you won’t use within the week.
Notes

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Serves
16
Prep Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr
 
 

Meyer Lemon & Garlic Citrus Paste

5 from 1 vote

I mentioned all the ways I used this paste throughout the week up in the main post. Have fun and experiment! Be sure to peel all the pith from the peels. It’s intricate work, but worth it. Also, if you want a spicier paste toss in a de-stemmed jalapeño (seeds and all), or boost with cayenne to taste.

Ingredients
  • 230 g / ~2 cups Meyer lemon peel (from ~20 lemons)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
  • 1/2 cup / 75g peeled garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients into a blender. Pulse into a paste, scraping down the sides of the blender once or twice to get all the good bits mixed in. Refrigerate, and freeze any paste you won’t use within the week.
Notes

Makes about 2 cups

Serves
32
Prep Time
1 hr 30 mins
Total Time
1 hr 30 mins
 
 

No-heat Meyer Lemon & Rose Geranium Syrup

5 from 1 vote

No problem if you can’t find rose geranium, just skip it! And yes, you can certainly try this with standard Eureka lemons.

Ingredients
  • 100 g Meyer Lemon Peel (from 8-10 lemons)
  • 200 g sugar
  • A few small rose geranium leaves
  • 2/3 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Place the lemon peel (no pith!), sugar, and rose geranium in a medium bowl. 

  2. Massage aggressively with clean hands for 5-10 minutes. Until sugar and citrus begin to meld and the peels begin to release their essential oils. 

  3. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Stir in lemon juice, re-cover, and refrigerate for another 12 hours or so, stirring whenever you remember. Strain syrup into container, pressing on the solids to get every last drop. Chop and save the peel solids for use in baked goods like biscotti, muffins, granola, shortbread, cakes, and the like.

Notes

Makes about 1 cup.

Serves
16
Prep Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr
 
 

No-heat Orange Syrup

5 from 1 vote

Use in cocktails, over ice-cream or yogurt, on pancakes.

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups / 6 1/2 oz / 185g orange peel (from ~10 oranges)
  • 370 g sugar
  • 2/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Instructions
  1. Place the orange peel (no pith!) and sugar in a medium bowl. 

  2. Massage aggressively with clean hands for 5-10 minutes. Until sugar and citrus begin to meld and the peels begin to release their essential oils. 

  3. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Stir in orange juice, re-cover, and refrigerate for another 12 hours or so, stirring whenever you remember. Strain syrup into container, pressing on the solids to get every last drop. Chop and save the peel solids for use in baked goods like biscotti, muffins, granola, shortbread, cakes, and the like.

Notes

Makes about a cup.

Serves
16
Prep Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr
 
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

Oh! I need all of these for the upcoming summer heat!! Seems so refreshing and yum will keep all of these in store for my kids... Thanks a lot for sharing these ideas!

Riya

How long do the no heat syrups last? They sound tasty for cocktails, but not sure how fast we will use them. Thank you!

Kelsey

    Hi Kelsey - Use whatever you can in a few days, and freeze the rest in small portions.

Thank you for all these great ideals. For the no heat syrups: could you just run them through a food processor to release the oils? We are in Michigan, so our citrus supply is neither as abundant nor as diverse, but we do like to at least zest our clementines into some sugar before peeling. The sugar then ends up in pies and other baked goods or on peanut butter toast. Sometimes we do the same with lime or lemons, but sometimes they go into salt for finishing taco, pasta, etc. Low effort, for sure, but lasts all year!

Bridgit

    Hi Bridgit - I feel like the massaging helps meld the sugars and oils - versus the slashing of a food processor blade. And just to citrus sugar! I also do citrus peel salt as well. xx!

When we had easy access to wonderful organic navel oranges I would use a veggie peeler for just the zest, cut them into unequal strips, candy them in a syrup, let the strips dry at least overnight and then drizzle with semi-sweet chocolate. A divine treat.

Janet

I have an abundance of Meyer Lemons from our tiny but mighty tree, and this post is just what I needed. Now the only hard part is deciding what to do with them, although that no heat syrup looks fabulous and like a fun project.

Shila Soni

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