Got some leftover squeezed orange or lemon halves? Working out how you can avoid chucking them straight in the bin? Turn squeezed husks of citrus into a deliciously tangy cordial. Now that it’s citrus season, there’s no better time to do it. Food writer and DIY Pantry enthusiast, Malou Herkes, shows you how to make orange cordial (or any citrus cordial for that matter) from scratch.
Photography: Natalé Towell
If you hate food waste, then you probably hate binning the rinds of oranges, lemons and limes once you’ve squeezed out their juice. These spent citrus halves are full of flavour, but short of keeping them to spruce up plain water, what can you do with them? Preserving them in salt until the skin breaks down into a potent ingredient Ottolenghi would be proud of, is one way. Removing the peel and drying it out for tea is another. Or you can turn your citrus into a very delicious cordial.
Can I use any type of citrus fruit?
Pretty much yes, and as it’s citrus season, now is the right time to make the most of the choice out there. You can use a single variety of citrus (to make a straight-up orange cordial, for example) or a mix of a few. I used blood oranges, grapefruits, juicy oranges, lemons and limes, but whatever you have to hand would work well. I’ve yet to try it but pithy Seville oranges are probably not the best idea. If you can, try to use organic fruits, otherwise wash them thoroughly in hot water.
What to do with your citrus cordial
Keep it classic and dilute with water for the squash drink that kids (and adults) love. Use it as a base for a refreshing alcoholic or non-alcoholic cocktail: for the latter, Seedlip Grove – a citrus-flavoured booze-free spirit –works really well. Drizzle it over your porridge or whisk up with icing sugar to drizzle over bakes and cakes. Any more ideas? Do leave your suggestions in the comments below.
How to make citrus cordial in 4 simple steps
Step 1. Start with a bowl or large jar of squeezed citrus halves. You can use a mixture of citrus, such as oranges and lemons, limes and grapefruit. Or just one type if you prefer. Weigh all the citrus husks first and take note.
Step 2. Add the same weight of caster sugar, then muddle it in, stirring well to release the oils. Cover and leave for at least a few hours or overnight.
Step 3. You’ll see, after that time that you’ll have a tangy, citrussy cordial collecting in the bottom of your bowl or jar.
Step 4. Strain the liquid through a sieve into a jug, squeezing out as much flavour from your citrus as possible (compost the citrus). Pour the cordial into sterilised bottles and store in the fridge for about a month. Dilute with still or sparkling water.
For more DIY pantry ideas, check out these guides to DIY dairy-free milks and homemade almond milk as well as how to make apple cider vinegar, an easy mayonnaise, gut-friendly kombucha, a traditional butter, creamy yoghurt, hummus and icing sugar.