Uses for Citrus Peels in Your Kitchen, Home & Garden01. February 2018
You make some homemade lemonade; you chuck the peels. You eat an orange for a snack; you throw the peel in the compost. You add some lime to the coconut; the peel gets pitched. It’s a shame that up to 40% of the fruit is just wasted. But it doesn’t have to be! There are a plethora of uses for your citrus peelings.
DIY Citrus Vinegar Cleaner
One of my personal favorites is using the grease smashing properties of citrus and combining it with the might of vinegar. Together they are a disinfecting powerhouse that is nearly unstoppable. And making it is crazy easy. Just fill a mason jar with your collected citrus peels. I use orange peels, but you can also add lemon peels. Once filled to capacity, pour in white vinegar to the top of the jar. Then put the lid on and let sit for a minimum of 2 weeks. Strain out the peels and combine the vinegar with water at a 50/50 ratio. If you want to get extra fancy, add some dried herbs to your spray bottle for an olfactory delight. Your kitchen and bathroom counters won’t know what hit ‘em! Please note, citrus may damage some surfaces. Do not use on granite, marble, stone or hardwood floors, or painted surfaces.
Citrus Deodorizers and Potpourris
Orange and lemon peels also make tremendous deodorizers. They have the natural ability of absorbing foul odors. Place some peels in the back of your fridge or in the base of your kitchen garbage can to keep things smelling fresh. Shred peels in your garbage disposal to release that great citrus smell in your kitchen. Make a refreshing potpourri by simmering peels in water with some cinnamon and cloves. Add cut up peels to stockings and hang in closest or cars. Your nose will thank you, especially when you replace synthetic fragrances with FREE and natural scents.
Lemon Peel Cleaners
Lemons are especially handy for removing hard water stains on faucets. Rub fresh lemon peels onto stainless steel faucets to remove unsightly white buildup. Repeat as needed and your faucets will shine bright! This will also work on copper, silverware, pots and pans.
Are you a coffee or tea junky who is also bad at cleaning stained mugs and pots? Lemon to the rescue! Add some salt to the outside of a lemon peel to rub away stains on mugs. Coffee tastes better from a clean pot, so don’t forget to clean that too. Add lemon peels and water to your pot, then turn on. As the pot heats, citric acid is released from the peels and melts the stains away. Coffee anyone?
Citrus Vinegar Pest & Cat Repellant
Another great household use for peels is as a pest deterrent. Citrus has an acidic oil in its peels called d-limonene. This substance is toxic to ants and will kill them if they come in contact with it. You can make a citrus-vinegar mixture similar to the cleaning formula above. Put some peels in a pot and cover with white vinegar. Heat the pot to almost boiling, then turn the heat off and let it sit for 2-12 hours. The longer you let it sit, the stronger the concentration. Strain the liquid into a spray bottle and have at those ant intruders!
You can also add citrus peels to flower beds and gardens to repel cats. I personally tried this with no luck. If you have tried everything else to repel cats, it's worth a try. Just cut orange peels up into one inch pieces. Scatter in your flower beds or anywhere you don't want cats. Add new peels once a week to refresh. No need to remove the old peels outside since they'll decompose.
Another option is to make a citrus repellant spray for cats. Bring 2 cups of water and 1 cup of chopped citrus peels (orange, lemon, or limes) to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool, then strain the peels out and add to a spray bottle. If anyone has luck with any non-lethal cat repellant, I would LOVE to hear about it!! This solution is also supposed to work for dogs, but why on earth would you want to repel them? ;)
Add Citrus Peels to Food
Candied citrus peels are definitely the place to start. So delicious, once you make them you will accept no substitutes. This Candied Citrus Peel recipe would be great on baked goods or ice cream. And just imagine them dipped in dark chocolate. Mmmmmmm.
Stop buying expensive store-bought extracts! They are so easy and cost-effective to make yourself. In no time you can whip up some lemon or orange extract in your kitchen. Citrus extracts are perfect for holiday gifts or favors once packaged up in cute bottles or mason jars.
Make citrus ice cubes by infusing water with leftover peels. Add peels to a pot of hot water and steep until infused. Freeze orange, lemon, and limes cubes, or combine all flavors together. Lemon ice cubes are especially tasty in ice tea.
You can also use citrus zests in food like our Zesty Lime Curd recipe. Spread this delicious curd in a baked tart shell for a quick dessert. Top the tart with a ring of fresh raspberries or a twisted lime slice to impress.
Want more citrus canning recipes? See our Citrus Canning Recipes blog post for jam, jelly, marmalade & more!
Or try this vibrant Three Citrus & Vanilla Bean Marmalade recipe. This citrus marmalade would make a great holiday gift. Your kitchen will smell amazing as you zest your citrus. Use our free printable tags and labels to decorate your jars for gift-giving.
Shop our Citrus Canning Label Collection to label all of your lemon, lime, and orange goodie jars.
One of the easiest ways to enjoy your citrus peels is to dehydrate them and add them… to everything! Trail mix, oatmeal, cupcakes, pancakes, smoothies, salads, ice cream, chicken or fish… okay, you get it. Preparing your dehydrated peels is easy. Just slice them into bite-sized pieces and leave them out to dry. Easy-peasy! Or, if you want to speed the process up, place peels on a cookie sheet in a 200° oven and let them bake for a couple hours. You’ll know they are done when the edges start to curl up. And I guess I should mention, you want to use organic oranges if you are going to consume the peels. Don’t forget to wash them, too!
I run dried citrus peels through my spice grinder to make a wonderful powder. The citrus powder is perfect for adding to dressings, marinades, smoothies, or baked goods. Store the citrus powder in a recycled spice jar and shake away!
Health & Beauty Benefits of Citrus Peels
Lemon peels are fantastic for skin care. The citric acid in them is a bleaching agent, therefore, they act as a natural skin lightener. They may also enhance the softness and clarity of your skin by removing dead skin cells and stimulating new skin growth. To help with acne, wash and grate the skin of 5-8 lemons and add their juice into a bowl. Mix together, store in a bottle, and shake before using. Apply the mixture to your skin and massage in a circular motion once a day. Leave the solution on for about 5 minutes. You'll feel the tingle as it seeps into your pores. Rinse and dry your face.
Citrus Peels Crafts & Jewelry
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We LOVE preventing food waste! What ways have you repurposed leftover citrus peels? Let us know in the comments below.