We had the most marvelous navel orange tree at our home in the valley. We planted the tree soon after we moved in and enjoyed it’s wonderful, healthful fruit ever since. That is, until we had to leave it behind when we sold our home so that we could move up to our new homestead.
We eat oranges for dessert with dark chocolate…
A bite of orange. A bite of chocolate. Repeat. Good thing mandarins are just as good this way, because we were able to move our potted mandarin up to our new homestead.
A while ago I followed a recipe for candied orange peels that I found in a wonderful book called 1/4 acre farm. They were absolutely devine! The orange peels ended up with a wonderful chewy texture and were beautifully translucent. Really, you have to try this! I was so proud of the fact that we were actually using the whole orange!
But then I made those candied orange peels again yesterday, and when the candy was done, I kept thinking about how good they smelled and how my fingers got so slippery when I was scraping the pith from the orange peel oil.
Wait… ORANGE OIL!
I wondered – if I saved the water that the orange peels were gently boiled in, would there be any orange oil floating on the top when it cooled down? I had to try it, which meant I had to make another batch of candied orange peels. Ah Shucks. 😉
But, instead of dumping the water the peels were boiled in (the orange peels are boiled in water 3 times), I saved it all in a large pan. When the water has cooled enough to handle, I used a funnel and poured the water into a large glass bottle, like these…
When filled to the brim, I inverted the bottle, and carefully placed it upside down into the refrigerator. Why? Oil and water separate – especially when chilled. After a few hours of chilling, I slowly (very slowly), without inverting the bottle, let the water trickle out of the bottom. My thought was that oil generally floats, so if I let the water out of the bottom, the oil would be left on the top. I stopped decanting the water when there was about an inch or so left in the bottle. Then I poured in more water and followed the same procedure. Once I had done this with all the boiled water, I could definitely see a sheen of oil on the top of the water.
Yes indeedy, I had orange peel oil!
I poured the oil with the last bit of water into another smaller amber colored bottle for storage. Since this bottle had a dropper, I got rid of more of the water by sucking out from under the oil layer – remember, oil floats! This is what I ended up with before sucking all of the water out from underneath:
I know if I had a small distiller, I would be able to get a lot more oil out of the orange peel, and I also need to experiment with different methods of extracting the oil. I am also going to see if it makes a difference whether I separate the water and oil when it is still hot, or let it get cold first. Then, I want to see if I can do the same thing with our lemon and mandarin trees!
The best part? I KNOW this is organic oil because the peels came from my tree which we do not spray! We already miss that tree, since right now is the time the oranges are beginning to ripen. Hopefully, someday, if we can build a walipini, we will again be able to plant another orange tree.
Have you extracted oil from orange peels? Do you have a better method you would like to share?
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