Freezing is a simple way to preserve orange peels, keeping this useful flavoring always on hand. Adding orange peel or its zest to fruit smoothies, salad or salsa boosts nutrition as well as flavor. Orange peels have vitamins C and A, potassium, calcium and trace amounts of several other nutrients. Use the peel of this fruit to flavor main dishes, sauces, cooked vegetables, quick breads and desserts. Orange peels are also used in beverages, including black, green and herbal teas.
Organic Is the Best Choice
When planning to freeze orange peels, organic oranges are the best choice whenever possible, according to food professional and educator Carole Cancler in her book, “The Home Preserving Bible.” Organic oranges are less likely to have residues from pesticides and other chemicals on their skin. The skins of standard, commercially grown oranges are sometimes dyed to enhance eye appeal. The color of organic oranges may be a lighter, less intense shade of orange, perhaps appearing pale in comparison to non-organic varieties.
Wash Oranges Carefully
While fresh oranges have yet to be involved in a foodborne illness event like those caused by E. coli or Salmonella contamination, it is important to wash oranges carefully before peeling, warn the University of California food science experts. There are plenty of opportunities between the orchard and the kitchen table for the skin of an orange to collect bacteria. Wash oranges individually under running water, rubbing briskly with a hand or brush, but use no soap or detergent. They can leave behind residues from fragrance and surfactants or other cleaning agents. Dry thoroughly after rinsing.
Clean Utensils, Work Area
When processing orange peels in preparation for freezing, cleanliness is among the most important ways of preventing bacterial contamination and foodborne illness. Wash your hands thoroughly before starting. Make sure that the work area and all utensils are scrupulously clean. Greasy residue on a paring knife or a hastily washed cutting board just used for raw chicken can result in cross contamination if those utensils are used to peel oranges and trim peels to desired freezing size.
Store With Care
After cutting or grating the orange peel, pack it for freezing in an airtight container or freezer bag to help prevent flavor loss and freezer burn. For convenience, pre-measured or single-use portions of zest or grated orange peel can be frozen on a cookie sheet and then placed in a freezer bag or container. Frozen orange peel or zest doesn't have to be thawed before use when added to a simmering or hot dish. Orange peel and zest can be frozen for up to six months.
- Sunkist, Citrus 101: Buying, Storing, and Handling
- United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service: Basic Report: 09216, Orange Peel, Raw
- Top 100 Food Plants; Ernest Small
- The Home Preserving Bible: Preserving Fruits, Food Preservation Methods for Citrus Fruits
- The Home Preserving Bible: About the Author
- University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources: Oranges: Safe Methods to Store, Preserve and Enjoy
- Lodi News-Sentinel, From Barbara's Kitchen: Can You Freeze Orange Zest To Use Later?
- The Everything Paleolithic Diet Slow Cooker Cookbook; Emily Dionne
- Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images