Income from Home Grown Lemons?
Answered by: Richard Alan Miller
Question from: Kathryn Calder
Posted on: March 24, 2007

I have a small lemon orchard on my property 50 adult trees and it seems such a waste to just give the lemons away to friends (also don’t have that many friends for so many lemons). My question is, are there ’home industry’ processes that I can use to extract essential oils from the lemon’s (rind)?

Lemon peel has been used as a flavoring agent in many different herb formulas and as a tea ingredient for centuries. Santa Maria Chilies currently takes the orange and lemon peel produced in California for use in this trade. They also buy lemons for the peel, as well.

The problem is the pesticide used to control flies and other fruit varmints. Since most pesticides for this use are water soluble, they can be rinsed first from the peel before the pulp and album are scraped from the inside of the peel. Minute Maid also does this in Florida, to also include lime peel.

The peel is removed by a ribbon knife, and then the inner album is scraped with a knife. That is why the peel is often referred to as a ribbon. If you want to go big scale, think of a local fruit packer who might use the ribbon as a garnish or accent on packaging. They currently do this with roses and other miniature flowers that have been freeze dried.

I have written several articles which also might be helpful in determining how you might proceed with marketing your lemon peel.

http://www.nwbotanicals.org/oak/altagri/nitche.htm

http://www.nwbotanicals.org/oak/altagri/herbalsoftdrinks.htm

http://www.nwbotanicals.org/oak/altagri/marketingrsrc.htm

There are also some limited markets for the lemon flowers and leaf, but mostly from vertically integrated cottage industries. Gleaning is also an old hippy style of allowing local residents to come and take what fruit you decide not to harvest.

Another direction might be a dietary aid, making the entire lemon juice and peel into a fruit bar or leather. The idea is that what you really have to sell is labor and an idea on usage. Like grapefruit, citric acid can be used as an appetite suppressant or dietary supplement. That is all part of the marketing and promotion aspects of your business plan.

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