You’ve probably heard about all the health benefits of eating citrus fruits – oranges, lemons and grapefruit – including boosting immunity, healthy skin, decreasing risk of heart disease, cancer, anemia and even kidney stones. But did you know that the peels of citrus fruit also have a ton of vitamin C, riboflavin, B6, calcium, magnesium, fiber and potassium, as well as anti-inflammatory flavonoids? I’m not suggesting you go and make a meal of citrus peels – they’re bitter and difficult to digest – but there are other creative ways to use them in cooking and around the house to make use of their nutritional profile, save money, and limit your food waste.
- Freeze or dry the zest. Many recipes call for a small amount of lemon or orange zest that don’t take up the whole fruit. But you can just use what you need now and save the rest for later. Preserve your zest by either freezing the extra in an ice cube tray, or you can dry it by leaving it out on a plate for a few days or toasting it in a 200 degree oven.
- Add the dried peels to black tea or your favorite chai recipe.
- Grind the citrus peels up and use as a vitamin C powder to add to smoothies or juice.
- For extra flavor, add dried peels to meat braises or in the cavity when roasting a chicken.
- Make your own lemon pepper seasoning with ground dried peels, a pinch of sea salt and ground pepper.
- Make lemon oil. Use a grater or vegetable peeler to peel a thin layer of skin and add to coconut oil or olive oil for 2 weeks, then strain. Add garlic or fresh herbs for extra flavor!
- Citrus peels are antibacterial and antimicrobial, making them great household cleaners. To make a general household cleaner, soak some lemon peel in white vinegar for 2 weeks, strain, then mix with water in a 50/50 ratio.
- Clean your microwave naturally by cooking lemon peels in a bowl of water in your microwave for about 5 minutes, remove the bowl and wipe the surfaces clean.
- To bring back the shine to chrome, stainless steel, copper or brass, pour salt, cream of tartar or baking soda over your surface and scrub using a lemon peel.
- Use chopped citrus peel mixed with water to repel ants and other pests.
- Citrus peels are also great for your skin! Just rub citrus peels on your skin to brighten and tone.
- To soften dry elbows sprinkle a half lemon with baking soda and place your elbow in the lemon half and twist. Rinse and dry.
- Make yourself a nice moisturizing foot soak by boiling citrus skins for 5 minutes, cooling and straining them, then adding them to 1/4 cup milk or almond milk and 2 Tb. Olive oil. Soak your feet for 20 minutes then pat dry.
Not only are citrus peels great for your body, skin and home, but using them also helps the environment by minimizing food waste. So next time you pick up a lemon, orange or grapefruit, use the list above to get the most out of your fruit!
Do you have a unique way you like to use citrus peels? Share in the comments below!