What is Oleo Saccharum?

In Latin, oleo Saccharum means “sugar oil.” It is made by putting citrus peels in sugar to get their essential oils out. The method makes flavored sugar or syrup that can be used in drinks. In the 1600s, 1700s, and 1800s, oleo Saccharum was thought to be one of the most important parts of punch. David Wondrich’s book “Punch” is responsible for the recent rediscovery and resurgence of oleo.

In the book, Wondrich talks about the history of oleo and gives many recipes, like the Endeavor Punch, which needs lemon oleo Saccharum, rum, Madeira, and citrus juices. Oleo-saccharum was used in cocktails and punched many in the 19th century to give them a citrusy taste and smell.

What Is Oleo Saccharum?

What is Oleo Saccharum?

Oleo Saccharum may sound like a new-fangled bit of chemistry, but it is a syrup that is a blend of citrus oil and sugar that has been around since the 1600s. An elixir for craft cocktails, oleo Saccharum, can also make homemade sodas, fancy up lemonade or iced tea, and even as part of a soak for cake layers. It is also a great way to prevent fruit salads from browning while adding a bit of fresh citrus punch.

Oleo Saccharum is nothing more than sugar mixed with the oil from citrus peels. It’s a simple way to give the base of a punch more depth and style. Wondrich says that when it was first made, people rubbed citrus right up against big, dense loaves of sugar, which soaked up the oil. “We don’t have that choice” in the 21st century, so until a few years ago, he would muddle lemon peels in a sugar bowl and use the fragrant sugar as the base for a punch.

What is Oleo Made of?

Oleo, also called margarine, is a spread made from plants that taste like butter. It is made from refined oils and water. Hydrogenation is used to make oleo, and this process hardens the oils and makes trans fatty acids. An oleo strut is made up of a metal tube or piston on the inside that is attached to the wheel axle and moves up and down in a metal tube or cylinder on the outside that is attached to the airframe.

Oleo Saccharum and Sustainability

If your drink recipe calls for citrus juice and a single peel as a garnish, you can easily use the rest of the fruit that might otherwise go to waste. Peel the citrus first, then mix the peels you don’t need with sugar to make oleo Saccharum. Many professional bartenders use the oleo Saccharum method to get more use out of half-used citrus, like lemon slices or peels cut for garnishes but weren’t used by night. They mix the citrus pieces with sugar and leave them in a container overnight for the person who works the morning shift to filter. Note that citrus peels need to be peeled, scraped, poked, or otherwise broken up a bit so that the oils can get into the sugar.

After making your flavored sugar or syrup oleo, you’re left with flabby, wet, sticky citrus peels that can no longer spray oils atop cocktails in garnishes, but luckily there is a way to make further use of them. Place them in a food dehydrator or the oven on a cooking sheet set at the lowest temperature. After several hours or overnight, the result is dry, crispy, candied citrus peels that you can munch on or use as garnishes. And better yet, now they’re preserved as candy, so you can store them in an airtight container and use them when needed in the future.

How to Make Oleo Saccharum?

You can use any citrus fruit to make oleo Saccharum, and you can stick to a single flavor or mix two or even three fruits for different tastes. I like to keep grapefruit, lemon, and tangerine versions on hand, but I’ve made the syrup with everything from blood orange to buddha’s hand.

To make oleo Saccharum, first gently wash the outside of your citrus, being careful not to disturb the zest or let the oils out. Peel off the zest strips with a wide peeler, getting as little of the white pith as possible. Get a measuring cup and put the peels in it.

You will need 3/4 cup of white granulated sugar for every cup of peels. Put the peels in a zip-top bag and add the sugar. Mix the bag so that the sugar covers all of the peels. Press all the air out of the bag and seal it tight. Roll the peels and sugar together with a rolling pin to get the oils out.

When the mixture in the bag looks wet, put the bag on a plate or in a shallow dish and let it sit for 24 hours, making sure to squish the bag every so often to make sure the sugar is pulling out all the essential oils. After 24 hours, cut a small piece off the end of the bag and squeeze the liquid into a jar to store. For every cup of peels, you should get about a half cup of oleo Saccharum. Put in the refrigerator: It should last a couple of weeks.


  • 1 cup citrus peels, stripped with a vegetable peeler
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar


  1. Mix the citrus peels and sugar in a bowl, measuring cup, or another sturdy container. Use a muddler or spoon to mix the ingredients well. Pretend you’re mad at the Oleo-Saccharum (you might be!).
  2. Give it at least 5 hours and up to 24 hours to do its thing. Feel free to mix and mash it up if you pass by it often.
  3. Put the citrus peels in a sieve and press on them to get all the good oil out. Put the oil in the fridge for up to two weeks.

How to Use Oleo Saccharum in Drinks and Baking?

To use oleo Saccharum, add a tablespoon or two to a large glass of carbonated water to make a homemade soda. You can also add flavor and sweetness to iced tea or make lemonade taste better. To make a glaze for cakes or muffins, mix with powdered sugar until you get the right consistency. To soak for cake layers, mix equal powdered sugar and water parts.

Please don’t throw them away! Toss the peels in enough granulated sugar to cover and separate them. Spread them out in an even layer on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 150° until they are dry and crisp. These sugared peels go well with cheese, charcuterie, a cup of espresso, or as a decorative touch on desserts. Once they are dry, you can store them in your pantry for a few weeks in a container that keeps air out.

Oleo Saccharum can be made from oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and, to a lesser extent, limes, which are harder to peel and can be bitter. The easiest way to use oleo is like you would use plain sugar or make a simple syrup by mixing it with the same amount of water. Use lemon oleo to make a super-strong lemonade, orange oleo to make an Old Fashioned, and lime oleo to make a tasty Ti’ Punch. Or, use oleo to change the taste of a classic drink, like a Daiquiri with grapefruit or an orange Whiskey Sour.

How do you Store Oleo Saccharum?

Oleo Saccharum can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a month. But it tastes best in the first week and can lose its bright citrus taste over time. Oleo Saccharum can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a month. But it tastes best in the first week and can lose its bright citrus taste over time. The shelf life of oleo Saccharum is about a week, so if you want to make enough for a week, you should multiply the recipe 3–5 times, depending on how you want to use it.


At first glance, the name sounds scary, but it means “oil sugar in Latin.” In the 1800s, it was a very popular ingredient used mostly to add flavor and smell to alcoholic drinks and punches. It’s a well-known fact that citrus peels have essential oils that make them smell so good. Now, bartenders usually spray the peels to get a bit of oil out of them and wipe them on the rim of the glass.

Making oleo Saccharum is probably the best way to get most of the oils out and add some sweetness simultaneously, thanks to the hygroscopic properties of sugar. Some people call it “magic oil” because it has deep, pure citrus tones that go well with many other flavors. It can also be used to make ice cream, iced tea, and lemonade, so bringing it back to the modern world gives bartenders and people who like alcohol many options.