Stop Throwing Away Your Juiced Citrus Peels

If you look at that pile of juiced orange, lemon, or lime peels and rinds and only see trash, look closer — you'll discover an often ignored source of delicious citrus flavor that can make a variety of tasty recipes truly shine. All you'll need is some water, sugar, a blender, and a stovetop.

It's as simple as tossing your citrus remnants into the blender, adding enough water to nearly cover them, and pulsing several times. Ideally, your peels should be thoroughly chopped up but not liquified. Strain this mixture to remove large pieces, and reduce the liquid on the stove with sugar to your desired sweetness and thickness.

The result is a sweet, fresh simple syrup thoroughly imbued with intense citrus flavor. Home cooks can tweak the ratio of peels, water, and sugar to produce the characteristics they're looking for in their syrup. The technique works with everything from familiar oranges and grapefruit to exotic Key limes, Meyer lemons, and other uncommon citrus you should experiment with

A use for every home cook or bartender

The uses for this rich, bonus flavor are as wide-ranging as the citrus that can produce it. Lovers of a homemade cocktail can use it in the place of traditional simple syrup or to add a zing to drinks like margaritas. Non-alcoholic beverages like lemonade, limeade, teas, smoothies, and even plain or sparkling water can also benefit from a shot or two of the stuff. Meanwhile, bakers can brush thicker versions of the syrup onto cakes or other baked goods to infuse fresh citrus flavor in just seconds. It can even be used as a key component of salad dressings and marinades or as an easy, fresh topping for pancakes, waffles, and ice cream.

Store your syrup in the refrigerator. Depending on your ratio of sugar to water, you'll have anywhere from several weeks up to six months to enjoy your syrup before it goes bad, with more sugary versions lasting longer. However, with a flavor this delicious, it's likely to end up in your food and drinks long before that!