As much as we love composting, citrus peels are too valuable to be tossed.
Lemons, limes, grapefruits, oranges, clementines, or any of your other favorite citrus fruits can be used in their entirety. The peels may carry even more nutritional benefits than the fruit inside: just one tablespoon of orange peel supplies 3x more vitamin C than the fruit, and 4x more fiber. They can be candied, incorporated into beverages, zested over your favorite dishes, or even used to start a summer campfire. If you plan on eating the peel, however, be sure to buy organic fruit.
As much as 40% of our national food supply is wasted, but there are plenty of ways to keep these rinds out of the trash.
1. Spice Up a Beverage
To add some extra flavor and zest to tea, liquor, or wintery mulled beverages, dry your own lemon, orange, tangerine, or other citrus peels to add to the mix.
Peel the fruit, leaving the pith – the bitter white substance between the peel and the fruit – behind. Leave the strips on a plate in a warm, sunny area with their insides facing upwards until crisp (about 2-3 days). If you’re short on time, the peels can also be dried in the oven. Spread them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes at 200ºF.
The dried peels can be used for all sorts of beverages; to make a citrusy tea, mince the peels, then mix with black tea and other desired spices such as cardamom, lavender, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger. They also add excellent flavor to mulled wine or cider.
Wrap a fresh peel around the end of a wooden spoon to make classic citrus twists to garnish cocktails, or make your own cocktail bitters with dried orange peels. Make the alcohol infusion in a pint-sized jar with grain alcohol and desired botanicals (including dried orange peels), shaking daily for 14 days. Strain the infusion and add to aromatic water, made by simmering the same orange peel and botanical mixture, straining, and letting rest for 5 days, shaking daily. Add caramelized sugar to the alcohol and water mixture, strain one last time, and store for up to one year.
2. Make Candied Peels
Making succade – or candied citrus peel – is an easy way to preserve and repurpose peels.
Remove the peel from 2 oranges – including the pith – and cut into strips. Boil for 15 minutes, drain, rinse, and drain once more. Meanwhile, combine 3 cups of water and 3 cups of sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the peels, bring to a boil again, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes until the peels are soft. Toss the coated peels in another cup of sugar, then separate on foil to dry for a day or two.
The final product can be eaten on their own as a snack, used to garnish a dessert or cocktail, or chopped up to use for baking.
3. Use in Homemade Cleaning Products
D-Limonene – a natural compound found in citrus peels – is a very effective cleaner.
Make your own simple surface cleaner with only vinegar, water, and lemon. As you accumulate leftover lemon rinds, store them in a jar in the refrigerator filled with vinegar. Let the mixture sit for at least two weeks once it’s full of rinds, shaking it daily. Remove the lemons and strain the infused vinegar to take out any stray particles. Pour the solution directly into a spray bottle, or create a 1:1 ratio mixture with water for a less potent cleaner. Use the spray to clean greasy kitchen counters, bathroom surfaces, etc., but take care to avoid using on marble or stone, as the acidity in the lemons can cause damage.
While this surface cleaner can be used to clean out the inside of a microwave, for a more immediate solution, fill a bowl with water and lemon peels and microwave for about 5 minutes, or until the water is boiling. Allow the steam to fill the microwave for a few minutes before opening the door and wiping down the surfaces with a cloth.
To de-oderize a kitchen dish disposal, freeze peels in an ice cube tray with water and when it’s time for a clean, toss one down the drain and flip the switch, or freshen up the fridge by simply leaving a small bowl of peels on a shelf to spread their scent.
4. Build Citrus Fire Starters
Orange peels, surprisingly, make excellent fire starters – and will leave your house smelling citrusy and fresh!
Simply leave the skins on a cookie sheet until dry, then toss into the fire with the rest of the kindling. The oil on the skins fuels the fire and can replace paper as a waste-free fire starter.
Store the peels in a paper bag with a silica packet if you aren’t ready to use them right away.
5. Add Flavor to Dishes
With so much flavor in the rind of citrus fruits, it would be a shame to waste it.
Author Credit: Linnea Harris
Original From EcoWatch