While most of the garden is asleep in winter, citrus trees are filled with sweet, tart fruit ready for picking.

 
Citrus trees are very generous in the amount of fruit that they produce. So much so, that people are often inundated with more citrus than they can eat.
 
This time of year, people find bags and even boxes of freshly-picked citrus left at their door by neighbors who are happy to share their bounty. 
 
So, whether you have boxes of citrus or have to run to the grocery store for your favorite lemons and oranges – here are some creative ways that I use citrus.
 
1. Freezing Lemon Zest
 
 
Lemon zest adds great flavor to your favorite foods and it is easy to freeze.
 
Simply put the lemon zest in a plastic freezer bag and keep in the freezer for up to a year.  
 
2. Natural Lemon Freshener
 
 
 
The fresh scent of lemon is welcoming when you walk into a room.  Instead of using artificial air fresheners, you can use citrus to create natural ones.
 
Ingredients such as basil, lemon slices, and peppercorns OR orange slices with vanilla create wonderful fragrances.
 
Add the ingredients to a small pot, fill to 3/4 full with water and heat to boiling.  Then reduce the heat to the lowest setting and enjoy the fragrance for the next couple of hours.
 
Click here for more information and combinations for natural air fresheners.
 
3. Household Citrus Cleaner
 
 
Citrus peels and vinegar combine to create a natural citrus cleaner that is suitable to use around the house.
 
You will need the peels from any type of citrus and white distilled vinegar.
 
– Fill a large jar (or container) with the citrus peels and fill the jar with vinegar.
 
– Store in a cool, dark place for 3 weeks.
 
– After 3 weeks, pour the mixture through a strainer to remove any pulp.
 
– Transfer the citrus/vinegar mixture to a spray bottle, filling it halfway.  Add water to fill the rest of the spray bottle.
 
– Your natural citrus cleaner is ready to use to wherever vinegar-based cleaners are safe to use such as countertops, walls, faucets, mirrors, and glass.  Don’t use on granite or marble as the vinegar can etch the surface.
 
*The peels can be frozen for use later.
 
4. Frozen Citrus Ice Cubes
 
 
An easy way to preserve lemons from your tree when the fruit is but a distant memory – add lemon juice to ice cube trays and freeze.
 
Once frozen, pop out the lemon ice cubes and place in a plastic freezer bag and store for future use.  These ice cubes are a great way to add lemon when you cook throughout the entire year.  
 
 
 
If you love to cook, lemon salt is a great way to add subtle lemon flavor to your favorite dishes and it’s easy to make – all you need is kosher salt and lemons.
 
I made lemon salt last year and it is delicious – I promise, you’ll love it. Click here to see a step-by-step tutorial.
 
Do you have any ways that you like to use citrus?

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13 replies
  1. RobinL
    RobinL says:

    What a wonderful bounty this would be! My dream would be to have a lemon tree and an avocado tree right next to each. Guacamole forever! Do avocados grow there in the desert?

    Reply
  2. arizonaplantlady@gmail.com
    arizonaplantlady@gmail.com says:

    Hi Robin,

    Unfortunately, it gets too hot to grow avocados in the desert, although I seem them growing everywhere in Southern California. Oh well, I will just have to content myself with my lemon tree 😉

    Hope all is well and that you will be out gardening soon once the weather warms up.

    Noelle

    Reply
  3. Malea Ann
    Malea Ann says:

    Anyone with too much citrus should consider contacting the local food bank or gleaners associations. The Phoenix area food banks both make use of the whole fruits, as well as juicing oranges. The orange themselves cannot be sent to food banks in many other states due to agricultural restrictions, but the juice CAN be sent across state lines.

    http://www.yourfoodbank.org/gleaners.html

    Reply
  4. pkpdjh
    pkpdjh says:

    I love your site. Thanks so much for doing such a quality job.

    I have learned so much about specific plants. I currently have some of your favorites growing in my yard (angelitas, blackfoot daisies, penstemons, globe mallows, queen's wreath, just to name a few.)

    If you could elaborate more on some of the overall style and design issues in future articles like you touch on here, I would appreciate it. I am an engineer, so I'm good at making thing grow with minimal water and I'm not afraid of work. However, I feel like I am missing some key concepts in terms of visual appeal. (Even your font choice is pretty!) Perhaps there are other references you can point me to, that would be great.

    – Dave in Chandler, AZ

    Reply
  5. Jack Wilson
    Jack Wilson says:

    any idea why all the oranges here in Sun Lakes are very small this year or is this just a normal cycle, some say it’s because of a windy fall ?

    Reply
  6. Kswc
    Kswc says:

    I’m posting free citrus on my local NextDoor app. I did it last year and response this year is huge. People really appreciate almost organic fruit and living near Scottsdale, many live in condos and apartments and can’t grow their own.

    Reply

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