To dry lemons using a food dehydrator, cut them into 1/4-inch slices. Lay them out on a dehydrator tray in a single layer and dehydrate them at 135°F for 6-8 hours until they are completely dry. Allow them to cool before placing them in an airtight container for long-term storage.
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How to Dry Lemon Slices in a Food Dehydrator
The easiest way to make DIY dehydrated lemon slices is to use a food dehydrator. This method can be used to make dried orange slices, limes, grapefruit, or any dehydrated citrus fruit you’d like. The prep time is minimal, and dehydrators are perfect for drying citrus fruit without browning it.
- Choose ripe, sweet lemons such as Meyer lemons to dehydrate. Rinse the fresh lemons with cool water and pat them dry with paper towels.
- Cut the lemons into thin fruit slices around 1/4 inch thick using a sharp knife or mandolin.
- Arrange the lemons on a dehydrator tray in a single layer. Leave room between each slice for airflow.
- Set your food dehydrator to 135°F and place the dehydrator tray inside.
- Let it dry for 6-8 hours. Check on the lemons frequently until they appear dry. Dried citrus fruit is ready when it snaps rather than bends.
- Take the dried lemons out of the dehydrator and allow them to cool to room temperature.
- Store the lemons in an airtight container in a cool, dark, and dry place for the longest shelf life.
How to Dry Lemons in an Oven
If you don’t have a food dehydrator at home, you can also easily dry lemons using an oven.
- Wash, dry, and slice the ripe lemons into 1/4-inch slices.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay your fresh lemon slices on it in a single, even layer.
- Preheat the oven to the lowest temperature.
- Place the prepared baking sheet inside on the middle rack.
- Prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon to increase airflow. This also helps prevent hot spots in the oven, which can cause browning.
- After a couple of hours, flip the lemons with a spatula to expose both sides for even drying. It can also be a good idea to move individual slices to a different location on the tray to avoid browning.
- Once the lemons are fully dry, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Transfer the slices to a cooling rack and allow them to cool for a few hours.
- Store the dried lemon slices in an airtight container and place them in a cool, dry place.
How to Dehydrate Lemon Peel and Lemon Zest
Dried lemon peel and lemon zest can be delicious additions to baking, potpourri, bottled as gifts, or used as a garnish.
Dehydrating Lemon Peels
Drying lemon peels is just as easy as dehydrating whole lemons:
- Rinse the lemons in cool water and pat dry.
- Peel the lemon skin, avoiding the white pith, which is bitter.
- Lay the peels out on a dehydrator tray in a single layer.
- Dehydrate for 4-8 hours at 115°F.
- Check on the peels regularly. The rinds are completely dry when they stop being flexible and become rigid.
- Allow the dried lemon peel to cool to room temperature.
- Store the peels in an airtight container or grind them in a coffee grinder to make lemon powder.
Making Dried Lemon Zest
If you would rather have dried zest than curls, follow these steps:
- Rinse and dry the fresh lemons.
- Zest each lemon using a microplane or citrus zester. If you don’t have one, the fine holes on a cheese grater also work. Avoid pressing too hard on the skin, and avoid grating the white pith into the zest.
- Lay the lemon zest in an even layer over a prepared dehydrator tray.
- Set the food dehydrator to 115°F and place the tray inside the machine.
- The drying time is around ten minutes. The size and lack of moisture expedite the drying process.
- Once the zest is fully dry, allow it to cool and then store it in an airtight container.
Ways to Use Dried Lemons
There are many uses for dried lemon slices and peels:
- Add the zest as a garnish for grilled fish or meat
- Add to water for a bright, citrus flavor
- Sprinkle sugared dried lemons on top of baked goods
- Use it as a seasoning in soups, stews, tagines, or curries
- Use it to make hot or iced tea
What are the Benefits of Dried Lemons?
There are many benefits of making dried lemons:
The dehydration process removes the water content while concentrating the flavor. This means you have all of the lemony goodness but in a smaller package.
2. Health Benefits
Lemons are packed with vitamin C, as well as citric acid, which can help prevent kidney stones.
3. Increased Shelf Life
One of the main reasons people dry lemons is to increase their shelf life. While fresh fruit can spoil within a matter of weeks, dehydrated lemon can last for five years!
4. Storage Space
Lemons shrink during the drying process. This means a batch of dehydrated lemons will use less space in your pantry or kitchen.
How Long Does It Take for a Lemon to Dry Naturally?
It is possible to air-dry lemons using the heat of the sun. This process takes 3-5 days but can be slower, depending on your climate.
- To air-dry lemons, slice them and lay them out on a dehydrating mat in a single layer.
- Cover the mat with a fine mesh net or grill to keep insects and animals away from the fruit.
- Find a spot with direct sunlight and place the prepared mat in that location.
- At night, bring the dehydrating mat indoors, and place it back outside in the direct sun the next day.
- Monitor for dryness, and once the lemons appear fully dry, place them in a container for a week of conditioning.
- Once conditioned, store dried lemon slices in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
How to Store Dried Lemons
The easiest way to store dried lemons is in an airtight container placed in a cool, dark, and dry place. Keep your dried lemon slices away from direct sunlight and high moisture to preserve them for longer. Dried lemons may be stored in vacuum-seal bags in a freezer which will keep them for longer than if kept at room temperature.
Shelf Life of Dried Lemon and Lemon Zest
If stored correctly, dried lemon slices can last for up to five years. For best quality, consume them in 2-3 years, as they will start to lose flavor after this point.
Dried lemon peel or dried lemon zest has a slightly shorter shelf life. It is best to consume these products within 6-12 months of drying.