Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I Tried It - Homemade Orange Oil

A while back we had a box of big, juicy oranges that only took only about a week to go through. I remembered that orange oil comes from the peel, and it makes an amazing chemical-free household cleaning agent. I searched around, and it seemed most of the recipes online suggested this method.

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.

3.  Warm the alcohol. Place the bottle of vodka into a bowl filled with hot tap water. You want the vodka to be warm but not hot. Pour the vodka into the jar until it completely covers the orange peel.

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.

5.  Strain the peels into a shallow dish using a strainer or better yet a coffee filter.

6.  Cover the dish with a kitchen towel. Be careful not to let the towel fall into the liquid. Let it sit for a few days: when the alcohol has evaporated, what remains will be orange oil.

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!

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1 comment:

  1. thanks for your report. I have a ton of orange saved me from trying to make E>O> out of them..just peeled off the bright orange part and dehydrated it instead...You can buy orange EO for the price of the vodka! thanks.