Dyeing with Citrus Peel

Source: Sasha Duerr, Permacouture Institute

Recipe Type: | Seasons:

This recipe was demonstrated for Foodwise’s Market to Table program on December 10, 2016.

In winter, citrus fruits are often at their sweetest and juiciest—and the abundance of citrus peels they generate can create effervescent hues of yellows, golds, and greens. The colors are especially beautiful on wool and silk. Clementines, satsumas, mandarins, tangerines, oranges, and kumquats with their darker orange skins can create some gorgeous aromatic shades. Pomelo, grapefruit, and Meyer lemon peels work as well, with shades a little more cool yellow rather than golden yellow.


4 ounces wool or silk fabric
1½ teaspoons aluminum sulfate
1½ teaspoons cream of tartar (optional)
4 ounces citrus peels
pH-neutral soap


Medium stainless steel pot with lid


Scour your fabric, and pre-mordant your fabric with aluminum sulfate and cream of tartar, if using.

Soak your fabric in water until ready to dye.

Place the citrus peels in a medium stainless steel pot two-thirds full of water. Bring the water to a boil, turn down the heat, and let the peels simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the water starts to change color. Strain out the peels and discard or compost. Add the premordanted fabric and let it simmer on low for 20 to 40 minutes.

Remove the fabric or let it steep overnight, off the heat, until it is your desired color.

Rinse your fabric with a gentle pH-neutral soap. Hang it to dry out of direct sunlight.

Reprinted with permission from Natural Color by Sasha Duerr, copyright © 2016. Published by Watson-Guptill, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photography © Aya Brackett.

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