Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Peel Appeal: 7 Ways to Use Citrus Peels

Don't you find it interesting/awesome that citrus fruit comes in season when we need it most? These delicious fruits, packed full of Vitamin C, are at their best when the cold and flu season is at its worst.  Like I said, it's awesome.

What's even better is that citrus is at its cheapest right now. We've been especially stocking up on oranges (Cara Cara oranges are my favorite) and clementines.  And while the fruit is wonderful and nutritious, I think that one important aspect of citrus is often overlooked: the peel.

Here are seven ways you can make the most of your citrus:

1. Zest them.
The peel holds many of the oils that give citrus its wonderful flavor. Adding zest to foods gives it a nice lift, I think. I use lemon zest all the time when I'm cooking and baking (I use this grater whenever I need lemon or orange zest -- works better than any other fine grater I've tried).  The peel of citrus fruit is also healthy -- the limonene in the peel actually stimulates your body's antioxidant detoxification enzyme system, actually helping prevent cancer (I learned that from a book called Superfoods Rx).  It's a shame, really, that we throw this beneficial part of the fruit away!

2. Boil them.
Want to freshen the air in your home? Bring some water to a boil, add the peels (I sometimes add a little vanilla, too), let them boil for a little bit, then reduce the heat to low. Let the mixture simmer for as long as you want, but be sure to add more water as needed.

3. Scrub with them.
I found this great tutorial about how to use dried peels to make a homemade scouring scrub. She simply let some grapefruit peels (I'm sure you could use other kinds of peels) dry for a few days, then she ground them up in her food processor until they were a fine powder. Add some borax and baking soda and you've got a pretty great scouring scrub -- and the author of the post says that it smells "heavenly".

4. Clean your disposal with them.
Citrus peels are great for cleaning and deodorizing your sink's garbage disposal. Just stick them in there, turn it on, let them grind away for a few seconds with some water, and you've got a sink that doesn't stink.

5. Sweeten them.
I've never tried it, but you can candy orange peels. I saw this recipe last month and was intrigued. Have you ever made or eaten candied peels?

6. Burn them.
I wish I had a fireplace. I'll have to pass this tip from Apartment Therapy on to my parents. Dried peels apparently make really good kindling. The oils in the peels fuel the fire.  Not only will using dried peels make your home smell like roasting oranges, but they emit less creosote than paper thus keeping your chimney cleaner.

7. Soak them.
For the last couple months or so, I've been soaking some of our orange peels in vinegar. The result? Orange-infused vinegar.  It smells so nice! (a pro for people who want to clean with vinegar but don't like the smell. I'm not one of them, but I do prefer the smell of oranges to vinegar!) Plus, oils from the peels are antibacterial, so I figure it'll give the vinegar an extra little cleaning kick. I use orange-infused vinegar everywhere in my house -- it's a great all-purpose cleaner.

I also used this concoction to do my semi-annual serious scrub-down of our chickens' home. Not only did it help clean out all that chicken poo and make it smell really fresh, but the citrus helps deter insects from making a home in the henhouse (I learned that here - and I'm going to make her mint-lavender-vinegar refresher spray for the ladies' coop this summer).

To make citrus-infused vinegar, simply put the peels (you could use orange, lemon, grapefruit, any sort of citrus) in a jar (I've used both pint-sized canning jars and reused spaghetti sauce jars), fill with white vinegar, and let it sit for at least a couple weeks. Once the two weeks are up, strain the vinegar into a spray bottle. For hardly any effort, you get an effective all-purpose cleaner that smells great and costs only a few cents. It's one of those simple things that makes this frugal girl's heart happy.

Note: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

{This post is linked up to Homestead Barn Hop, Simple Lives Thursdayand Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways..}


Stephanie said...

Have you ever grown any citrus??? I have been seriously thinking about trying an indoor tree. Feel like I have been reading about them all over the place. Thoughts?

Heather said...

No, I haven't, but I really want to! How cool would it be to grow your own citrus?! It doesn't seem too hard (I've been reading about it and seeing stuff all over Pinterest, too). It's mostly a matter of letting the plant get enough sunlight, it seems. I want to grow lemons but I don't know where to put it...

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