As you munch on a Clementine or two, an orange or a grapefruit, consider saving the peels to make oleo-saccharum, an old-fashioned method used to render juice from fruit peels with sugar and some time. I added a small handful of thyme sprigs to the peels and let the sugar do its magic. It’s fantastic mixed with seltzer for a refreshing summer cooler or drizzled over melon or chicken. See Summer Thyme Spritzer as an example of a spritzer to make with this concoction.

Making this syrup is a fun way of getting kids to eat more citrus. Have them add the peels to the jar as they finish a Cutie or an orange, allowing them to be a part of the project and to watch the peels break down over time. Getting children involved at any age in the cooking process is a good thing.


  • 3 cups or more of citrus peels
  • 1/2-1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 6-8 thyme sprigs


  1. Place the peels inside a bowl and cover them with 1/2 cup or more of sugar.
  2. Add the thyme sprigs and stir until the peels are coated. Let stand for several hours or, even better, overnight⁠—the longer, the better, and if you get started early enough you can make a drink in time for cocktail hour.
  3. Muddle the peels into the sugar every couple of hours.
  4. Once you have an inch or two of liquid at the bottom of the bowl, strain the peels and squeeze any remaining liquid out of the peels. It may seem like a small amount of syrupy goodness but it goes a long way.


This simple syrup lasts in the refrigerator for about a week. Freeze any remaining liquid in ice cube trays.

Pour an ounce of the syrup over ice and top with a little bit of seltzer or club soda and garnish with lemon or orange slice for a refreshing non alcoholic spritzer.