Sweet Orange Salt, Bitter Orange Sugar

Citrus is the main reason I’ll miss winter. The season of blood oranges, lemons and grapefruits is winding down in our parts, and although I look forward to the strawberries and cherries of spring, a perfect orange is enough to make me forget the cold, sticky snow and grey skies of Belgian winters. Orange rewards you with both taste and smell, since few other plants are so willing to yield their aromatic oils. With orange–or any other citrus fruit–you only need to squeeze the thick spongy peel to experience essence in its pure form.

bitter orange1

It’s a pity to waste all of that goodness, and if I have organic , unsprayed fruit, I preserve the zest in a variety of ways: by candying, flavoring vinegar, mixing with tea, drying or perfuming salt and sugar. The latter is by far the easiest and most versatile way to capture the aroma. All you need to do is to grate the colored part of the fruit and mix it with the base ingredient of your choice.

This time I used bitter (Seville) and sweet oranges for the recipe, but you can use any type of citrus for these recipes or even mix citrus to create your own blends. A trio of orange, lemon and mandarin is a combination you’d be tempted to rub on your wrists. More exotic citrus fruits like citron (etrog), Buddha’s hand, Meyer lemon, yuzu or bergamot also converse well in salt and sugar.

bitter orange2

Per every teaspoon of zest you should use 2 teaspoons of either salt or sugar. It makes for an intensely flavored condiment that you can later dilute with more salt or sugar, depending on your preferences.

bitter orange4abitter orange3a

Now that you have the flavored condiments, you can use them in a variety of dishes. Orange salt is delicious on grilled seafood. I blend it with my coriander cumin powder and paprika for a dry rub that gives a punch of flavor to fish, lamb or sweet potatoes. Lemon salt can be used in anything, from soups to chocolate cookies (a hint of salt enhances the chocolate). I also mix it with green and black pepper to season steaks.

Citrus perfumed sugar is likewise a fantastic blend to keep on hand. I add it to my pastries and milk based desserts. I whip it into fresh cheese and golden raisins to fill crepes. A teaspoon of orange sugar is a must in a cream of carrot soup, which I start by sauteing carrots with leeks, parsley and coriander. Fragrant, delicious, easy.


Orange Salt and Sugar

Sterilize the jars by washing them with hot water and baking soda and then bake them for 5 min in a 225F/108C oven. Wash the lids with boiling water. Let the jars cool.

Grate the colored part of the citrus peel avoiding the bitter white layer. Mix it with salt or sugar. Per every teaspoon of zest you should use 2 teaspoons of either salt or sugar. Pack into jars and give them a good shake. To preserve the fresh flavor longer, I store the main bulk of citrus salt and sugar in the fridge and remove small portions as needed to keep by the stove.

ExtraMiso Grilled Salmon with Honey and Orange :: Orange Trout with Korean Flavors :: Orange Marmalade :: Candied Orange Peel :: Orange, Cardamom, Hazelnut Biscotti ::

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, all rights reserved



  • Solanace: These are great ideas for conserving the zest when we get our hands on organic citrus. Looking forward to having some flavored sugar on the pantry for my ‘pudim de leite’. March 4, 2016 at 7:21am Reply

    • Victoria: It also tastes great on top of yogurt. Greek yogurt whipped with orange or tangerine sugar is a great dessert, especially if you add fruit like mango or fresh oranges. March 4, 2016 at 8:45am Reply

      • AndreaR: Yum! I’d add a small bit of coca nibs. Love the combo of orange and chocolate. March 4, 2016 at 10:34am Reply

        • Victoria: By the way, a friend gave me salt flavored with cocoa nibs, black pepper and tonka bean, and it was out of this world. March 4, 2016 at 12:00pm Reply

          • AndreaR: That combo sounds amazing. Have you used it yet? March 4, 2016 at 12:15pm Reply

            • Victoria: It’s good on meat, chicken, vegetables, especially root vegetables and potatoes. March 4, 2016 at 12:19pm Reply

              • AndreaR: Thanks! I must find some of this salt. Think it would be delish on oven roasted yams slices. I expect you add it at the end. March 4, 2016 at 12:40pm Reply

                • Victoria: It’s very easy to make. I add it at the very beginning, otherwise the flavors don’t have enough time to develop. March 4, 2016 at 2:35pm Reply

                  • AndreaR: Aha! Thanks. March 4, 2016 at 3:16pm Reply

          • Solanace: Hum, I imagine! March 4, 2016 at 2:44pm Reply

      • Solanace: Sounds good, I love Greek yogurt and eat it every day. March 4, 2016 at 2:43pm Reply

        • Victoria: So do I, and yogurt is a good canvas for different flavors. March 7, 2016 at 4:20am Reply

  • Austenfan: Great ideas! And for once something that I don’t feel daunted by. We even have the same grater. March 4, 2016 at 7:40am Reply

    • Victoria: Microplane is one of my favorite kitchen implements. I have 4 of them in different sizes.

      Yes, this recipe is very easy and a good way to add a dose of flavor to the simplest dishes. Orange salt in carrot stoempot is very nice. March 4, 2016 at 8:48am Reply

      • Iva: What’s stoempot? Sorry many question from me today. Excuse my poor English. 🙂 March 4, 2016 at 10:19am Reply

        • Victoria: I misspelled it–it’s just stoemp, at least that’s how it’s called here in Brussels. It’s a mash of vegetables, potatoes and usually bacon. A rustic looking dish but so delicious!
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoemp March 4, 2016 at 11:58am Reply

      • Austenfan: I can see that orange would bring a bit of life to ‘hutspot’ as ‘carrotstoemp’ is called in the Netherlands. It’s my least favourite of the stamppotten actually. Curly kale being taking top spot. March 4, 2016 at 3:43pm Reply

        • Victoria: I prefer spinach in mine, but then again, kale is not the most popular vegetable around here. March 7, 2016 at 4:20am Reply

  • rosarita: Oh, what a great idea! Orange salt sounds just the thing to perk up a tired palette, and by this time of year I always feel tired of everything, especially gray skies, winter clothes, and even heavy food. March 4, 2016 at 8:37am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, at this time of year a splash of color is needed. Our winter has been very mild, so there is not much to complain about, but still, who can resist a perfect orange? March 4, 2016 at 9:29am Reply

  • Jillie: Brilliant suggestions! I am just about to make a chocolate cake so it’s too late to have the lovely sugar in it, but inspired by you I will add some orange zest and salt flakes to the mix.

    As for your carrot soup – that sounds delicious and I will it that tomorrow. What sort of stock do you use? March 4, 2016 at 9:22am Reply

    • Jillie: Sorry for typos …. March 4, 2016 at 9:23am Reply

    • Victoria: I use water, or chicken stock if I have any on hand. But generally, I find that if you saute vegetables in butter and olive oil, the soup will be flavorful enough. I also add 1 potato and some lemon juice towards the end. March 4, 2016 at 9:31am Reply

      • Jillie: Yum, thank you. March 4, 2016 at 12:59pm Reply

  • limegreen: Bought some organic cara oranges yesterday and was enjoying the smell of the zest. Now I can make orange salt, thank you!
    Maybe that’s why I was craving a neroli fragrance for my morning walk! March 4, 2016 at 9:27am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m so envious! Cara cara oranges are such a treat. We get nice oranges here, but not cara cara. Now, they would make for a fantastic flavored salt. March 4, 2016 at 9:34am Reply

  • irem: Growing up we always had a jar of grated orange rind + sugar in the fridge. One big spoon added to the cake batter would transform plain pound cake into fragrant orange goodness. I never made it myself, since I don’t bake a lot. But the idea to preserve it with salt is pure genius. Thank you Victoria for this wonderful idea. March 4, 2016 at 9:29am Reply

    • Victoria: I use citrus salt a lot, because there are few things it doesn’t improve. For a long time I kept dried citrus zest on hand until I discovered that preserved in salt it’s fresher and richer tasting. March 4, 2016 at 9:36am Reply

  • Iva: How much zest do you add for vinegar? What kind of vinegar do you use? March 4, 2016 at 10:18am Reply

    • Victoria: For orange flavored or lemon flavored vinegar I use white wine vinegar, and as for the quantities, I rarely measure. Maybe 3 long strips of zest (avoiding the white bitter layer) for every cup? March 4, 2016 at 11:56am Reply

  • Marge Clark: Inspired! I have always made up a wee bit of lemon and/or orange sugar when I had a fruit I wasn’t zesting for other uses…but salt? never occurred to me! Thank you for, as always, broadening my horizons. March 4, 2016 at 10:29am Reply

    • Victoria: You can create so many blends on that citrus basis–tangerine salt and pink pepper, bitter orange salt and cardamom, lemon salt and coriander. March 4, 2016 at 11:59am Reply

  • rickyrebarco: Wow, why did I not know this? I live in Florida, the land of oranges! Probably because I can get these wonderful fruits year round. I am definitely going to try the lemon salt and lemon sugar ideas. Can you freeze the packets of lemon salt and lemon sugar as well?

    I will probably keep some on the fridge- will be perfect on fish and the lemon sugar will be a fantastic addition to fresh plain yogurt. YUM!

    Also, a Florida trick, squeeze fresh lemon juice on fresh strawberries before serving to really make them sing and zing! March 4, 2016 at 11:04am Reply

    • Victoria: You can definitely freeze them and use them straight out of the freezer, because they won’t turn into hard lumps the way zest without any additions would.

      Strawberries marry so well with lemon juice. My Italian friends also use balsamic vinegar, and I also like this combination. March 4, 2016 at 12:02pm Reply

    • Lindaloo: That squeeze of fresh lemon juice works great on vegetables too. I find that since using the lemon juice over the years on simple steamed veggies, I can no longer tolerate butter on them. March 4, 2016 at 4:23pm Reply

      • Victoria: I remember reading an article interviewing a number of prominent chefs about the most indispensable ingredients, and most agreed on lemons. March 7, 2016 at 4:21am Reply

    • katherine X: We eat melons – including watermelons – with lime or lemon juice…. As you say it makes them sing and zing! Similar effect as salt in pastries/cookies. And papaya – I cannot eat without lime. But with lime I can eat boatloads. I’m preparing a melon appetizer for dinner tomorrow night and think I might add a tiny pinch of Victoria’s lemon salt to the melon and fresh-squeezed lemon. I’ll bet it would add a new harmonious dimension! Salting melons was a practice of my grandmother Mema – a straightforward way to boost flavor. March 4, 2016 at 10:12pm Reply

      • Victoria: My grandmother salts watermelons, a popular Ukrainian treat, but I admit that I find the texture of pickled melon flesh unappealing, so I eat only the rind which remains crunchy. March 7, 2016 at 4:23am Reply

  • Rina: One of my favorite holiday drinks was the Holiday Spice Flat White from Starbucks. One of the ingredients was Tangerine Sugar. I’d never heard of it before. Makes sense now. Still looking for the spice recipe, if anyone knows it.. March 4, 2016 at 11:17am Reply

    • Victoria: The only Starbucks in Brussels is at the airport (as far as I know), so I missed that drink. But I imagine the holiday spice must have included cinnamon and nutmeg. March 4, 2016 at 12:03pm Reply

      • Rina: Yes! Cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, ginger and “tart tangerine sugar.” Much better than the obligatory pumpkin spice, LOL! March 4, 2016 at 12:17pm Reply

        • Victoria: It sounds so delicious!

          Pumpkin spice has too much nutmeg for my taste. A friend made pumpkin pie flavored with just vanilla, orange and cinnamon, and it was such a revelation. March 4, 2016 at 12:21pm Reply

          • katherine X: Agreed! A hint of nutmeg, and no more, tastes good to me. March 4, 2016 at 10:25pm Reply

            • Victoria: Pumpkin gnocchi with sage, butter and a hint of nutmeg are delicious. March 7, 2016 at 4:24am Reply

  • Aurora: Thank you Victoria! I’ve already learned from you to reuse my vanilla pods to make vanilla sugar and now citrus sugar and salt! All these fragrant tips make my mouth water. It occurs to me orange or lemon sugar and salt would be good in crepe batter (I already add the juice of one orange following my mother’s recipe). March 4, 2016 at 12:12pm Reply

    • Victoria: It kills me when I read cookbook instructions that encourage discarding vanilla beans after one use. They have so much flavor, and it’s a pity to toss them.

      I also started adding orange juice to crepe batter, following your recommendation. It makes such a big difference in flavor. March 4, 2016 at 12:19pm Reply

      • rainboweyes: My mother always used “empty” vanilla pods to make flavoured sugar. They were much too precious in communist Poland to be tossed.

        Love the idea of adding orange juice to crepe batter! What about some bits of orange peel? Would it be too much?

        Orange sugar and cinnamon is lovely when sprinkled over rice pudding, too.
        I also use a tiny bit of orange zest when cooking strawberries or raspberries (especially frozen fruit, when preparing sauces for desserts). It enhances their flavour a lot. March 5, 2016 at 3:47pm Reply

        • Victoria: You can use both, and it won’t be too much. Orange oil is volatile, and when you fry crepes, some of it will dissipate. March 7, 2016 at 4:36am Reply

  • Ruth: Ooooh, thank you so much Victoria. I have a stash of beautiful, huge Meyer lemons in my refrig from my parents’ trees in California (since December!). I’ve had too little time to do anything complicated with them, and I can’t store them forever. Plus, this will make lovely Christmas gifts since I can freeze it. March 4, 2016 at 12:34pm Reply

    • Victoria: If you have large salt flakes (like Maldon), it’s even better and looks prettier for gifts. Persian blue salt or Hawaiian pink salt are two other options that I save for gifts. March 4, 2016 at 2:34pm Reply

  • Isabel: Wonderful, such a marvellous idea! Next time I bake almond cookies I will add a generous amount of lemon salt, I cannot wait 🙂 March 4, 2016 at 2:39pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s a very nice touch, especially with almonds or other nuts. March 7, 2016 at 4:18am Reply

  • MaryAnn: So… Is there a fragrance that captures orange zest? I would love to wear such a beautiful fragrance. March 5, 2016 at 2:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: The closest thing to a juicy orange is Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine. March 7, 2016 at 4:32am Reply

  • Qwendy: You are such a gold mine of culinary wisdom! Have you considered writing a book??? Thanks so much for this inspired and inspiring post! March 5, 2016 at 2:53pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Wendy! Hope that you’ll like this idea. You must get very nice citrus fruit in your part of the world. March 7, 2016 at 4:33am Reply

      • Qwendy: I just got a Buddha’s Hand from a friend’s back yard last night! I am going to make salt to take back to Brittany, thanks to you! Xxx March 8, 2016 at 1:39am Reply

        • Victoria: You can also candy the rest of it once you’ve used the zest for salt.

          My pleasure, Wendy! 🙂 March 9, 2016 at 1:31pm Reply

  • rainboweyes: Oh, so many lovely ideas! They almost make me forget that I hate winter 😉
    Plenty of organic citrus varieties are available on farmer’s markets here so I can make a lot of the blends from your post – sweet and spicy. I use lemon or orange zest a lot for baking but it’s a great idea to make flavoured salt and add some other spices.
    Bergamot is one of my favourite citruses, I mostly just have a slice in my tea but I’m sure it can be used for spice blends too.
    Btw I just finished baking lemon and poppyseed cake with yoghurt, can’t wait to try it 🙂 March 5, 2016 at 3:38pm Reply

    • Victoria: Bergamot salt with some green pepper is very special. You can use black pepper too, but I like crushed green pepper for looks and a softer bite. All of these blends are easy to make, but they turn the most basic dishes into gourmet treats. March 7, 2016 at 4:35am Reply

      • rainboweyes: I’ve just made my first batch of orange sugar, using coconut sugar (hope it works too). I’ll use a part of it for blueberry sauce I’m serving with rice pudding tonight.
        Now I have a question, though – how long can it be kept in the fridge? March 9, 2016 at 11:30am Reply

        • Victoria: At least several months before you start noticing it losing its aromas.

          Rice pudding with blueberry sauce sounds so good. Thank you for an idea. March 9, 2016 at 2:52pm Reply

    • Hamamelis: Hi Rainboweyes, so nice to see you here! I was intending to mail you later this evening, hope you are well, I am but somewhat busy… March 9, 2016 at 11:41am Reply

      • rainboweyes: Hi Hamamelis, nice to see you too 🙂
        I’ve had a busy schedule recently as well, that’s why I’ve been a rare guest on BdJ.
        Hope we can get in touch soon 🙂 March 9, 2016 at 12:42pm Reply

  • NBelle: Hehe I suppose I would be in the very vast minority of those who love winter. I love the gray, I love the cold air. I just can’t wait for the spring and summer foods, as I’m the only thing I’m not too fond about winter would be be the heavy dishes.

    I have a friend who would dry orange and even grapefruit peels, then marinate them in a jar of water and honey mixture. She would add a splash of whisky or rum to make cocktail. I’m boring with citrus peels… I dry them and put them in my fridge for odor control. It works!!

    Also, I’m looking forwards to the next Scent Diary! I have been browsing old posts, and love reading about other people’s descriptions…! It helps me imagine I am in a different place each post hehe March 6, 2016 at 9:15am Reply

    • Victoria: I like winter by default, because I don’t like hot weather. I’d rather take the endless grey of Belgian winter over the muggy, stuffy summer days. And nice citrus sweetens the deal.

      Your method of using up citrus peels is very creative! March 7, 2016 at 4:41am Reply

  • rickyrebarco: I have my microplane grater out and my carefully cleaned organic oranges- getting ready to do some packets of orange and salt and more of orange and sugar. Victoria, you are the best for simple and amazing cooking and flavoring tips! I’m going to make my own cc mix also.

    I’m finally able to cook again and I’m excited about trying all these new things. (Broke my leg a few months and had to have surgery- long recovery!) March 6, 2016 at 1:57pm Reply

    • bregje: I hope you get well soon!
      I can relate a little bit as i just tore my calf muscle.But luckily i didn’t need surgery. March 6, 2016 at 2:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: I hope that you’re on the mend. Please recover quickly.

      CC powder + salt + citrus of any kind is my new all-purpose mix. This past weekend I made it with lime and lemon zest and tried it on pork chops. March 7, 2016 at 4:43am Reply

  • bregje: Carrotsoup is my favorite! And i make it pretty much the same way you do except for the orange. So thanks for the tip.
    I’ll try that the next time(i actually just had a bowl before reading this blog,haha).
    The coriander is a must i find.It really gives the soup some fresh spiciness.I sometimes add bits of chicken or meatballs(spiced with curcuma,djahe,paprika and salt). March 6, 2016 at 2:18pm Reply

    • Victoria: Carrots and coriander are a perfect match! March 7, 2016 at 4:44am Reply

  • Haefennasiel: Hmm, I should try this with kalamansi. =)

    https://elleinadsays.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/calamansi.jpg March 7, 2016 at 3:13am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, that would be heavenly. We don’t have kalamansi here, so I use tangerine (sweeter, fruitier), but the real thing packs a lot of flavor. March 7, 2016 at 4:47am Reply

  • Jane: I made a very simple but extravagantly indulgent pudding for a party recently: spongecakes soaked (for 4 hours) in zest and juice of lemons, oranges and double cream, served chilled. It’s an old English recipe called ‘Boodles Orange Fool’ originating in the gentlemen’s club of the same name. March 7, 2016 at 5:34am Reply

    • Victoria: It really sounds wonderful! March 7, 2016 at 6:49am Reply

  • Wrenaissance Art: Such great ideas for flavor combinations! Meyer lemons have been at a local store for the last couple of weeks–they have such a floral quality to their scent that I wanted to do something different with them.
    Fab photo-illustrations, btw. What is the rustic wood plank you used as a support for the fruit? March 8, 2016 at 8:04am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s just a cutting board. 🙂

      We don’t get Meyer lemons here, and I imagine that their floral notes would be great in many dishes. March 9, 2016 at 1:35pm Reply

  • Nick: I tried this with the Moro variety of blood orange. The scarlet blushes contribute to a distinctive colour. The flavour has an undertone of raspberry, too. March 11, 2016 at 10:52am Reply

    • Victoria: A mimosa made with blood oranges is something else. March 12, 2016 at 1:34pm Reply

  • Christine Funt: Victoria, I love all your ideas for oranges. I will make orange salt immediately. Also will start spraying scarves with fragrance–marvelous. January 18, 2019 at 3:45pm Reply

    • Victoria: The orange salt is especially versatile, because it lifts the flavors of so many dishes. January 21, 2019 at 7:20am Reply

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