I’m very proud of being part Native American. The fact that my particular part is only about 1/32 or so isn't what matters. What makes me proud is that Native Americans took such good care of our planet. When they harvested crops, they used every part—from roots to leaves to fruits and seeds. So when I discover new ways to get more use out of the many "store bought" items I simply can’t live without, I am just delighted. I also love to share my newfound tips here with the KCL community! Here are some great tips to extract the most value from your fresh summer produce.

1. Exfoliate and rejuvenate skin with fruit skins and rinds

If you love fresh summer fruits like pineapple, avocado and kiwi, did you know there’s hidden value in the rinds and skins? You can get a salon-worthy skin rejuvenation treatment (exfoliation + moisturization) just by saving the skins in whole or part.

  • After enjoying the fruit, rub the inside of the skins over rough, dry, or peeling skin. The natural oils (in avocado) and minerals (in kiwi and pineapple, natural bromelain—the same ingredient that tenderizes meat!) will quickly exfoliate and nourish skin.

2. Heal skin wounds and send internal parasites packing with papaya skin and seeds

Papaya skins and seeds, as well as leftover pulp from juicing fresh papaya, have great healing properties. Of course, the fruit itself is quite beneficial in beauty regimes too, but it's too tasty to pass up!

  • Skins and pulp: Scrapes, incisions from surgery, and other skin wounds respond quite well to papaya skin (and a little post-juicing pulp, if available) placed fruit-side down over the wound.
  • Seeds: Papaya seeds have two health properties—they can aid in eradicating intestinal parasites, and the oil they contain is extremely nourishing for skin. For either remedy you first need to crush the seeds—just put them in a blender until they look like the sand on your favorite beach. You can apply this oily seed sand directly to skin to promote rejuvenation, or add to your favorite smoothie to ease parasites.

3. Ease signs of aging with watermelon rinds

If you've ever shaken your head at those piles of watermelon rinds left over after a summer feast, now you have a solution that eliminates waste. Did you know watermelon rind – despite its whitish appearance – is actually power-packed with vitamins and minerals? Best of all, the rind has collagen-boosting amino acids that ease signs of aging.

  • Grate the rind of a watermelon slice. Add a little leftover juice to moisten the rind further. Mix and apply to the skin of the face and neck. Leave for 15 minutes, then rinse with cool water.

4. Keep wildlife and pests away, deodorize, and even start a campfire with citrus peel

Grapefruit, oranges, lemons, limes—all leave behind peels and pith, which (to most) is relatively inedible. But there’s a reason so many beauty washes, scrubs, and creams incorporate citrus peels and oils—they’re nourishing and packed with nutrients.

  • As a pest repellant: Cats avoid orange peels like the plague, while bugs steer clear of lemon peel. Ants dislike all citrus peels. Sprinkle the peels liberally to keep pests away from plants.
  • To deodorize: Grind citrus peels in your sink garbage disposal or trash compactor to freshen and deodorize. Place a lemon peel in a cup of water and microwave for 60 seconds to remove microwave odors.
  • To start a campfire: First, dry orange peels in the oven. Then use on their own or add to a fire-starter mix before striking a match. You can also burn citrus peels in your own fireplace to freshen and deodorize the chimney and keep pests away—plus, no more expensive cans of air freshener!

5. Save peach pits to make a tummy-soothing tea

No one likes an upset stomach. But luckily there’s a simple and ultra-tasty soother that can help. Simply salvage the pits from all those juicy summer peaches, dry them, and you can brew up a delicious digestive tea.

  1. Scrub the pits to remove leftover fruit.
  2. Place the scrubbed pits in a pot with boiling water for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Remove the pits and place on a cookie tray in the oven.
  4. Let them dry at 200 degrees for 60 minutes.
  5. Remove the pits, let them cool, and place them in an airtight jar.

When you’re ready, get a pot and add one pit for each cup of water. Boil the water, then cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer for 10-15 minutes. You can also add a slice of fresh ginger or cinnamon stick if you like. Allow the tea to cool, add sweetener if desired, and drink.

6. Compost everything that’s still left over!

Composting leftover produce is so beneficial that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has dedicated a whole section of its website to this practice. Composting enriches soil, prevents further pollution, breaks down current contaminants, strengthens plants against disease, and saves funds—it replaces the need for excess watering, fertilizer, and certain pesticides. What's not to love?

  • Designate an out-of-the-way section of your lawn or garden to a compost pile. As you find you have leftover waste from produce, add those to your compost. When the pile turns a darker brown color, smells "earthy" (not bad—just like rich soil), and is a bit crumbly to the touch, it is ready to be applied around plants and trees as enriching mulch.


6 Home, Health and Beauty Tips to Get More Value from Your Summer Produce