1. Lay out your orange peels on a paper towel. Allow them to dry out until they are hard. This usually takes one or two days, depending on the humidity in your house. This process goes faster if you tear the orange peels into smaller one-inch pieces.
2. Place the orange peels into a food processor with a sharp blade. Grind the peels to a coarse consistency. When they reach a course consistency, stop processing because over-processing can cause loss of oils from the peel. Place the ground peels into a clean glass mason jar with a tight fitting lid.
4. Screw on the lid and shake the jar. Shake it vigorously over a period of several minutes. Do this several times a day for at least two or three days. The more you shake it and the longer you leave the peels in the vodka, the more oil you will get.
This is what it looked like after a couple days. Those orange peels soaked up most of the liquid.
Looks just like orange juice, doesn't it? I wouldn't suggest drinking it though!
So.....I have a sneaky suspicion that this isn't quite right. It doesn't seem to have a very "oily" feel to it. Hmmmmmm. I tried using it as a 'de-gooper" like Goo Gone, but it didn't do much. I'm sure I can use it as a fragrance in soaps, etc, but as far as it being a true essential oil, it seems to be missing the mark.
Plus, Vodka is expensive! Man, I was shocked. I think I'll just stick to buying orange oil from now on - in this case I'm leaving it to the experts. Here's a few places to pick some up if you need any.
However, there are tons of other uses for orange peels! I'm going to have to try these ones next time I get a case of oranges.
- dried orange peels are flammable and smell great as kindling in the fireplace
- A puree of orange peel and water spread around an outdoor barrier will prevent ants from crossing over.
- Flies and mosquitoes will flee from an area with small piles of orange zest, so finely grate the rind and place it around your blanket at your next picnic.
- Do you want cats to stop digging in your plants? Place dried peel around them. Cats hate the smell!
- Orange peels are a great deodorizer. Put some at the bottom of your garbage cans.
- A piece of orange peel placed in a box of brown sugar will keep it from drying out.
- Use grated zest in baking.
My homemade orange oil might not be as "pure" as a store bought essential oil, but I'm sure I can find some use for it. And having the orange peels steeping in a mason jar over my kitchen sink was actually quite pretty. Here's one more look!