It seems as though we are always peeling fruits and vegetables in our home. It always seemed like such a waste when we were done, throwing all of those colorful and nutrient-rich peels into the trash can. And so we started throwing them in our compost bin instead.
It was then that it occurred to me, what else might those nutrient-rich peels be good for? If they did wonders for my compost, what else could they do? So with a little research I found many uses for fruit and vegetable peels. The lesson I learned? Don’t throw kitchen scraps away; put them to work! Those colorful outer skins of fruit and vegetables are filled with flavor and vitamins and still have plenty of life left in them.
Peels are like little rinds of money. They have so many uses and can save some big bucks over the course of the year when used in place of other ingredients you may have used in the past.
Renew the tea kettle
For mineral deposit buildup in tea kettles, fill it with water and a handful of lemon peels and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and let sit for an hour, drain and rinse well.
This may seem like a given. But even if there isn’t an immediate need for recently-juiced lemons, limes, oranges or grapefruit, just dry or freeze it for future use! Zest is a great item to have on hand for any number of dishes. Scrape the outer layer of the skin and freeze in an airtight container. If it needs to be dried, spread the zest on a towel first.
Clean those greasy messes
Got greasy pans after cooking beef? Counter tops spattered with grease from those french fries you cooked up? Simply sprinkle the affected area with salt or baking soda to act as an abrasive and then rub with juiced lemon halves. The acidity in the lemons will cut right through the grease and make it easier to break up! Be careful using lemon on sensitive surfaces such as marble.
Add shine to a coffee pot
This works on clear glass coffee pots and is an old time diner trick to make pots sparkle! Add ice, salt and lemon rinds to the inside of an empty coffee pot; swirl around for a minute or two, dump and rinse well.
Make citrus extract powder
Take 1/2 cup of citrus zest (follow instructions for zest in Tip #2) and allow to dry thoroughly. Put the 1/2 cup of dried zest in a blender and pulverize into a powder. Store in a clean jar until ready for use in items such as candies, baked goods, and even hot drinks.
Make citrus sugar
Make citrus extract powder as described above, and add 1/2 cup of it to 2 cups of regular white sugar. Place mixture in a jar, and let the oil from a piece of peel further infuse the sugar. After 12 hours remove the peel. It can be sprinkled on as a cupcake or cake garnish, used in warm beverages, or even sprinkled on toast!
Make lemon pepper
Mix lemon extract powder with freshly cracked pepper. So tasty!
Make citrus olive oil
This is a true gourmet treat! Pound citrus peel in a mortar and pestle with some oil added. Place in a jar with more oil and let rest for six hours. Strain into a clean jar. Yum! Use citrus olive oil when cooking fresh fish, saute with vegetables, or pour onto cold salads.
Make instant infusions
Infuse honey or vinegar with citrus peels. Strain the liquid and store in a clean jar. When straining, you should remove all of the peels so all you have left is the liquid.
Make potato crisps
Mix potato peels with enough lemon juice and olive oil to evenly coat. Spread the potato peels in a layer on a baking sheet and cook at 400 degrees, stirring once, until golden brown (about 10 minutes). Season to taste.
Make a banana sugar scrub
Sprinkle sugar on the fleshy side of a banana peel and use as a soft loofah. Rub gently onto dry skin and then rinse in the shower with lukewarm water.
Easy skin tonic
Rub orange or grapefruit peels onto face and then gently rinse with warm water. The acidity of the peels will refresh your skin by helping remove dead skin cells. Be careful with sensitive skin; citrus juice may burn or irritate it (test on a tiny patch of skin first).
Moisturize dry skin
Rub the fleshy part of an avocado peel onto face for a rich moisturizer. Avocado contains raw vitamin E plus healthy fats and antioxidants.
Relieve your peepers
Potato peels can reduce puffiness around eyes; press the moist side of the fresh peels to the skin for 15 minutes. Beauty queens swear by this trick!
Boil potato peels, onion skins, carrot peels, leek ends, etc. for vegetable stock. Strain the scraps when finished and store in an airtight container.
Keep brown sugar soft
Add some lemon peel to keep it moist and loose. This works great!
Peels pack a lot of power in those little rinds. Why not save the scraps from your next fruit salad or dinner salad and see what uses you can come up with? You will never throw them away again!