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Using Fresh Orange Zest

I’m planning to use fresh orange peel in a wit I’m brewing with/for a friend. I’m planning to use 1.5 oz. per Jamil’s BCS recipe. Anyone know approximately how many oranges (assume medium size) I would need to get that much zest?

Interestingly, my daughter did her science fair project this year on pesticides in fruit. Orange peel had the highest concentration of pesticides of several fruit she analyzed. The inside was ok, but the peel had a ton. If you can find organic oranges the levels were much lower. Cheers! Hope this doesn’t go over like a fart in church…

I just made this recipe, but used a cara cara orange, a mangelo, and a navel orange (it was about the size of a tennis ball. I would almost double what I did. The wort smelled awesome at pitching, but a lot of it blew off during fermentation. Dry hopped with another zest of orange and more chamomile, which improved it a bit.

Not sure on oz. of zest per piece of fruit, but you want an s-load.

+1 on the organic as well.

Also, I’ve heard that the oils in fruit zest are self-sanitizing (?), so supposedly you don’t have to worry about sanitizing if using post-fermentation (yet I still did).

Thanks guys. I was thinking 4-5 medium sized oranges. I guess we’ll just go with whatever that yields.

For extra flavor post-boil, I was thinking of boiling orange peel (and other spices if needed) in priming solution and keg conditioning instead of force carbonating. That should extract some flavor and offer some insurance against infection.

[quote=“kcbeersnob”]
For extra flavor post-boil, I was thinking of boiling orange peel (and other spices if needed) in priming solution and keg conditioning instead of force carbonating. That should extract some flavor and offer some insurance against infection.[/quote]

I think this will yield good results (I do a simple syrup like this for my margaritas!), but you may want to add the zest toward the end of your boil and leave it in while cooling. Also, you may want to pull around 8oz of beer post-fermentation, split it into 4 2-oz samples and dose each with a non-sugared zest extract like you are making, in increased dosages, so you don’t add too much. Maybe consider adding chamomile to this concoction as well.

Definitely post back and let us know how it goes!

I thought I would report back. Four medium sized oranges yielded 2.2 oz of zest, so about 1/2 oz per orange seems like a reasonable yield estimate when planning a recipe.

FYI, I have a batch of La Petite Orange that’s just conditioned enough to sample. When we made it we put the zest of 2 oranges in the primary fermenter, (I wish I weighed it; I’ll assume ~1oz per your findings.)

The orange flavor is very noticeable, it takes a bit of a back seat to the coriander we added at flameout, but I’m hoping it will marry better with additional time. My initial impression was that we hit the upper limit of orange, and if anything should reduce the coriander.

La Petite Orange is based on a Dubbel, while you’re talking about a Wit; still, I would be careful about going higher than your recipe’s 1.5 oz. Maybe use the 2.2 ounces in a double-size batch; I expect your results will leave everyone wanting more, so a double batch may be what’s called for…

[quote=“JMcK”]FYI, I have a batch of La Petite Orange that’s just conditioned enough to sample. When we made it we put the zest of 2 oranges in the primary fermenter, (I wish I weighed it; I’ll assume ~1oz per your findings.)

The orange flavor is very noticeable, it takes a bit of a back seat to the coriander we added at flameout, but I’m hoping it will marry better with additional time. My initial impression was that we hit the upper limit of orange, and if anything should reduce the coriander.

La Petite Orange is based on a Dubbel, while you’re talking about a Wit; still, I would be careful about going higher than your recipe’s 1.5 oz. Maybe use the 2.2 ounces in a double-size batch; I expect your results will leave everyone wanting more, so a double batch may be what’s called for…[/quote]

I should have specified that the zest used yesterday was in the kettle, so I expect a lot of the flavor will be scrubbed during fermentation. I agree that less should be used post-fermentation (if any) to avoid making a beer flavored orange drink. :wink:

An update for the anyone losing sleep over this…

I just kegged today after coddling the sluggish WLP400 for three weeks. I got a hint of orange, but the chamomile was a little more dominant. I decided to keg condition using priming solution infused with the zest of two oranges. So I should be able to report back in a few weeks with the final result.

Note: I got .84 oz of zest off both oranges this time, which is different from the above results. I thought my friend said he used four oranges for the kettle zest, but maybe he used five.

After brewing three wits (all Jamil’s recipe, with a double decoction…not sure if his called for that, but I believe it did call for multiple rests) I have found that it is difficult to add too much orange/citrus zest, if using fresh. In my last batch I went overboard I used about a baseball-sized amount at flameout/30 seconds (cara cara oranges, tangelos, navel, and a grapefruit), along with 0.5 oz Moroccan coriander and 1oz dried chamomile.

The last wit is the best I’ve brewed, as far as the citrus and light herbal notes go. Next time I’m going to try to find Indian coriander, which supposedly has bigger seeds, but is far less peppery. The peppery flavors are the one thing I would dial back in my latest beer.

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