Citrus Peels, Slices, Juice, Shells: Refusing, Reducing, Reusing, Extending
Citrus juices from lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, etc are an essential part of almost every cocktail program, but also a part that uses a lot of resources and creates a great deal of organic waste.
As with all produce, we can look for ways to Rethink (do we need citrus in every drink, can we make citrus approximations, should be use citrus when it's not in season?) and Refuse (use alternatives for citrus or no acids at all), Reduce (use less citrus, stretch citrus juice to make it go further), Reuse (use leftover garnishes in a new way, use the peels for oleo saccharum in a second way), Recycle (use spent citrus shells to make citrus stocks), Rot (fermenting, pickling, composting).
Quick Links To:
- Rethink and Refuse:
- Reuse and Repurpose
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Citrus Garnishes
- Rot - Fermentation
Using No Fresh Citrus: Alternatives to Fresh Citrus Juice
- The bar stillife in Montreal uses no fresh citrus in cocktails, only waste from another bar's citrus - on this post there are several recipes for ferments and other not-so-fresh citrus tricks.
- Isolated citrus acids - citric, malic, tartaric acids used in place of fresh citrus. These isolated acids are often used in kegged and bottled or canned cocktails because they do not spoil or oxidize.
- Background and basic recipe for using isolated acids
- Limeless Lime Juice from White Lyan, made with citric, malic, phosphoric, and tartaric acids.
- Lime Acid Water and Cocktails in Which to Use Them from McClellan's Retreat
- Verjus in place of fresh citrus
- Five recipes for cocktails with verjus are linked in this article on PunchDrink.com.
- Recipes for cocktails with verjus instead of fresh citrus.
- Carbonated/sparkling beverages have acidity due to the carbonic acid.
- Champagne, soda water, beer, etc.
- Vinegar and Shrubs
- Shrubs are syrups, typically fruit syrups, with vinegar instead of water.
- See the page on preserves for more info on shrubs.
- You can also use bottle vinegar instead of shrubs.
- Cocktail recipes that use vinegar instead of citrus.
- Aisling Gammill's tips on when to use vinegar vs other isolated acids.
- Patrick Braga does at Paper Plane makes a "milk shrub" to get the whey from the milk plus the acetic acid from the vinegar and uses this in place of citrus.
- Sweet and Sour made from apple pulp
- Insects such as ants that contain formic acid
- Native in Singapore keeps an ant farm in their lab.
- Misc Other Sources of Acidity
- Fino and Manzanilla Sherry are fairly acidic, as mentioned in this story on Punch.
- Green apple juice [reference]
- Rhubarb juice [reference]
- Whey, leftover from the cheesemaking process (or you can make your own), adds both sweetness and acidity.
- Pickle brine
- Fermented citrus rinds (from a neighboring juice shop) in place of fresh lemon juice as mentioned in this article.
- Andrew Whibley of Stilllife in Montreal lacto-ferments pineapple pulp, and adds this to fresh pineapple juice to make an acidic pineapple cordial.
- Seabuckthorn, as Nicholas Box from Acorn says, is a berry that can be used in place of citrus
- Use Concord grape juice with added tartaric acid to make "grape citrus" as Patrick Braga does at Paper Plane.
- Juice to order rather than juice for the day.
- Plan for a conservative amount of juice each day, and then near the end of the night switch to juicing-to-order.
- Stretch out fresh citrus with citrus stock (see "citrus stock")
Getting the Most Juice Out of Citrus
- Press vs a rotary juicer
- Laura Newman of Queen's Park tested Sunkist juicer vs hand-squeezed and found that the machine produces more juice and it doesn't taste noticeably bitter.
- Aisling Gammill says that soaking citrus in warm water before squeezing gets more juice from the fruit.
How Long Does Fresh Squeezed Citrus Last?
- Try your leftover juices the next day before discarding them automatically. Laura Newman of Queens Park says that juices can last 3-5 days.
- Use small bottles, use from oldest to youngest, and plan for the days the bar is closed as Tamir Ben-Shalom at Bull Valley Roadhouse explains.
- Citrus changes flavor every day, but according to Aisling Gammill it can last up to three days if always kept cold.
Extending the Life or Utility of Citrus Juice
- Donny Clutterbuck performed tasting experiments to find that fresh-squeezed (lime) juice tastes best after six hours, but if kept in small bottles with air removed (using a vac-u-vin pump) and refrigerated it can last 1-3 days. Though the vacuum sealed juice was not quite as good as the 6 hour old juice, he concludes that by vacuum sealing this could allow bars to juice every other day instead of every day.
- Use next-day juices in a discounted house punch. [info]
- Acid-Adjusted Juices:
- Acidify orange juice, grapefruit, and other not-very-acidic juices with isolated acids. These acid-adjusted juices often last longer than unadjusted juices, and are more useful in cocktails.
- Acidified Orange Juice, and Cocktails in Which to Use Them from McClellan's Retreat
- Centrifuged and clarified fresh citrus juice lasts for more than one day if centrifuged after squeezing
- Seth Freidus says that centrifuged citrus lasts 72 hours compared with 48 hours for fresh juice, and frozen centrifuged juice is useful for up to 10 days.
- Orange curacao/triple sec made from spent orange husks
- Use citrus rinds and distilled vinegar to make cleaner for the bar [mentioned here from The 18th Room in NYC]
- Freeze leftover citrus juice at the end of shift and clarify it the next day. Luuk Gerritsen agar clarifies his to keep it useful for longer.
- Leftover citrus juice can be fermented with sugar and a scoby as they do at stillife in Montreal. Other juices can be fermented as well.
- See below for Milk Punch as a way to extend citrus life
Milk Punch aka Milk Clarification is a process rather than a cocktail recipe. A cocktail that has acidity (most all cocktails) is poured into milk, curdling it. These curds can act as filters (you pour the curdled drink into a coffee filter after resting) taking out solids and some color, while the whey remains with the cocktail. This clarifies the drink and also preserves it so that it can be kept at cellar temperature or refrigerated for weeks or even months.
- About milk punch and some recipes
- You can use older citrus juice in milk punch rather than fresh so it's a way to extend the utility of citrus along with preserving the cocktail
- Boston’s Seth Freidus uses citrus husks in his Milk Punch along with older juice.
- Dave Arnold's book Liquid Intelligence notes that you can "milk wash" base spirits like gin so that when they're mixed into cocktails they produce a nice foamy texture.
- Julian de Féral shares a recipe for a sour mix foamer made in the milk punch method from aging lemon juice and scrap peels.
- Break Milk Punch Without Citrus - Acidity is needed to curdle the milk, but it doesn't need to come from citrus.
- According to this story in Liquor.com, Luis Hernandez of consulting company Cocktail Illustrators used "the lacto-fermented liquid from pickled carrots to use in a milk punch to act as the acid" (but still had to add additional acids).
- Milk punch with ginger cordial instead of citrus.
- If you have unused batch of cocktails after an event at the end of the night, you can milk clarify it to preserve it so it won't be discarded.
- Uses for the curds leftover from Milk Punch
- Blend it into a cheese and serve as a cheese plate, make it into a dip, a grilled "cheese," or dehydrate it, according to Aisling Gammill of Water Bear Bar
- A Rum-peach-honey Milk Punch with a Panna Cotta recipe for the leftover curds from Allison Kave
Purchasing Juice Vs Fresh Squeezed
- Citrus juices used at the bar may be:
- prepared à la minute (squeezed to order)
- squeezed in-house and used within 1-2 days
- purchased as squeezed juice (unpasteurized)
- purchase pasteurized (shelf-stable like Santa Cruz brand, or refrigerated such as Odwalla)
- HPP pasteurized (sometimes labelled as "cold-pressed")
- Local delivery of fresh-squeezed unpasteurized juice is only available in a few cities. In this case, juice is delivered in returnable bottles that are exchanged each day. The bottles are reused.
- The advantage of shelf stable juice is that it can be stored at room temperature until opening, and even after opening it lasts a long time. Still, there is a large quality difference between pasteurized and fresh juice, whether it's the shelf-stable type or must-be-refrigerated type.
- HPP processed juice (often just labelled as "cold pressed" as opposed to pasteurized) is put under high pressure to crush any microbes, then it will remain stable if refrigerated unopened for weeks. It also lasts a longer time once open, compared with fresh juice.
- Donny Clutterbuck reported on HPP juices (formerly called Industry Juice, now called Twisted Alchemy) and found that these juices were just-like-fresh-squeezed in quality when first opened (weeks after being delivered to the bar) and that lemon/lime juices lasted 3 full days after opening, grapefruit, pineapple, and orange juices lasted up to 9 days.
- An examination of Twisted Alchemy juices' process, shipping, calibration, etc to see the pros and cons of this juice.
Citrus Garnishes - Reducing, Reusing, Recycling
- Instead of using peels, try a spray of food-grade essential oil atop drinks, particularly if you'll just be discarding the fruit beneath the peel as some bars do with oranges.
- Citrus spray recipe from stillife in Montreal
- Make dehydrated citrus wheels for garnish that doesn't spoil. See Preserves page.
- You can also spray these garnishes with citrus oil so that they have an aromatic impact in the drink.
- Storing or freezing citrus peels for later use.
- You can store citrus peels in the refrigerator in a sealed container and they'll last a few days. Orange peels tend to get soggy faster than lemon peels. In experiments I found that orange peels lasted 1 day at maximum crispness, while lemon peels could go at least 2-3 days.
- You can store citrus peels in the freezer for later use in cocktails.
- When thawed, the peels are not crisp and may not spray zest atop cocktails as they do when they're fresh, but their oils are still present (and release easily). Thus they can be used in drinks to flavor them, and perhaps made into oleo saccharum after thawing.
- You can candy citrus peels (dehydrate with sugar) to preserve them. First make oleo saccharum and then dehydrate the peels.
- Cut unneeded citrus fruit into wheels and use them to make a flavored syrup, and then caramelize the wheels to make citrus garnish. [Recipe]
- Make candied citrus wheels, peels, etc for garnish. See Preserves page.
- Especially near the end of the evening, allow bartenders to prep their own garnishes and split garnishes between wells as Tamir Ben-Shalom at Bull Valley Roadhouse explains.
- Leftover citrus garnish the next day can be made into an oleo saccharum for various uses. [another example]
- Some quantities for peels vs sugar in oleo saccharum (scroll to #2)
- Edible Dehydrated Blood Oranges with Angostura
- Does blanching improve the look of dehydrated garnishes? Not really, but candying them does.
- Julian de Féral suggests coating wheels with leftover tonic water, as it contains both sugar and citric acid to preserve color.
Citrus Peels Generally/Beyond Garnish/Oleo Saccharum and Sherbet
- Make lime cordial or falernum with lime zest and consider selling it as they do at Queens Park. See more lime cordial recipes on the Syrups and Sweeteners page.
- Rather than buying citrus-flavored vodka, infuse citrus peels to make your own. This may have cost savings as flavored vodkas tend to cost the same as unflavored ones but are lower proof and often with added sugar.
- Make your own limoncello with lemon peels and neutral spirit plus sugar
- Distill leftover citrus peels to make non-alcoholic bitters
- Use dried citrus peels for smoked cocktails, as in this recipe.
- Leftover garnishes can be added to sugar and vacuum-packed to make a "trash oleo saccharum".
Oleo saccharum is a flavored sugar or syrup (the name means "oil sugar") made by placing citrus peels in sugar. The sugar pulls out the peel oils and turns the solid sugar into a flavored syrup. Oleo saccharum was a traditional ingredient used in punch. The process preserves the citrus peel oils from a time when it would be hard to keep citrus fresh.
Sherbet is an oleo saccharum plus the juice of the same citrus.
- Basic oleo saccharum with lemon peels recipe [recipe]
- Basic recipe with orange peels [recipe]
- Leftover garnishes can be made into oleo saccharum at the end of the night. [info]
- After making oleo saccharum, you can dehydrate the citrus peels as candied garnishes or snacks.
- A failed attempt at making oleo saccharum with frozen ends of citrus.
Limoncello is a lemon peel flavored vodka. It is typically made by infusing lemon peels in vodka, straining, and then adding syrup or sugar. It could also be made by making a lemon oleo saccharum and then adding alcohol.
Citrus Husks (Citrus Shells After Squeezing)
- See Citrus Stock below for "stocks" made from spent husks, often with added juice.
- Use citrus husks to make lemonade.
- Citrus husks are used at Seth Freidus' bars to replace fresh citrus in liqueurs such as Falernum, Swedish Punsch, Orange Liqueur, and Citrus Vodka
- Make a "Trash Tonic" with spent citrus, gentian, and other herbs to use as a syrup to make tonic water.
- Dehydrate husks to make a tea that flavors Gin & Tonics, according to Christina Mae Padilla .
- Use husks in an oleo saccharum and then reduce it to make a lemon-lime soda, according to Christina Mae Padilla .
- Make your own fruit pectin to use for vegan gelatin/gummy bears/jello shots. Recipe Recipe [h/t Amanda Thomas]
- Make Citrus Stocks - using citrus leftovers (citrus shells after squeezing, sometimes zest and old juice also) to make imitation citrus juice, liqueurs, infusions; or to thin out fresh citrus with some leftover citrus.
- pink citrus (spent limes with hibiscus)
- chopping board cordial
- Trash Tiki's "citrus stuice" to be used 1:1 with fresh citrus juice to double the quantity. It can be made from lemon/lime, grapefruit/orange, and other citrus.
- "Bar Lime" from Eastern Promised in Toronto is similar - lime juice plus equal parts lime stock doubles the amount of lime "juice". [recipe]
- Using only citrus stock. From this article on Liquor.com: The Fox has fully replaced fresh juice with stock within their cocktail program, effectively spending zero dollars on fresh citrus—they source husks from a local juice company—without compromising their cocktail program. “Lemons and limes are all roughly 6 percent sugar, 3 percent citric acid and 2 percent malic acid,” says Benedetto. “Armed with this knowledge, we can turn virtually any liquid into an acid-corrected substance that will behave in your shaker much like lemon or lime juice.”
- Laura Newman says that citrus stock mixed with fresh citrus is fine for batched/multi-ingredient cocktails but less useful for simple cocktails like the Daiquiri.
- Nicholas Box of Acorn restaurant in Vancouver dehydrates his citrus shells to use in stock later.
- Boston’s Seth Freidus, on the other hand, freezes his citrus waste to use later in either stock or fermentations/infusions.
- This citrus stock is Old Juice + Citrus hulls
- As Milk Punch is in itself a preservation method, it can also be made with older citrus juice and stock.
- Ferment leftover orange juice (when only peels used) - RiNo Yacht Club makes lacto fermented spiced orange drink
- Tepache - fermented pineapple skin
- Ferment day-old citrus juice into lacto-fermented citrus soda [recipe]
- For general fermentation tips, see the Preserves page
Oranges and Orange Juice, Specifically
Due to the popularity of Old Fashioneds, which are often garnished with an orange peel, many bars have a surplus of peeled oranges/orange juice around. Orange juice is a bit watery and not as acidic as lemon or lime juice, so it doesn't have as much use in cocktails as other citrus.
- Some bars add isolated acids (citric, malic, tartaric) to orange juice to bring up its acidity closer to that of lemon/lime and make it more widely useful in cocktails.
- Others merely find a way of using up a lot of orange juice.
- Put cocktails with orange juice on happy hour specials to use up juice.
- Make a daily punch at low cost that uses up orange juice - and other aging ingredients.
- Example from Queens Park in Alabama
- Make marmalade from the orange pulp and sell it or use it in other cocktails.