Waste Not Want Not: Leftover Orange, Lemon, and Lime Peels

I studied abroad in London for a semester in college. As a Hansard Scholar, I took classes at the London School of Economics as well as interned with the Welsh Plaid Cyrmu party in Parliament. What a fantastic experience! One of the requirements of our study was to complete a thesis. Since I was an Environmental Studies and International Studies major and was working with an MP who sat on the Environmental committee in parliament, I thought it would be interesting to see how waste legislation passed in the European Union was being implemented in a small Wales community. And so my fascination with waste was born. Well, not waste exactly. More like ways to give “waste” another life.

Finding uses for things that most would send to the landfill is deeply satisfying to me. I spend hours scouring the internet amazed at other’s ideas on how they accomplish second, third, and even fourth lives for what many would call garbage (I know I used to!). While I have never considered myself to be wasteful, some of these ideas make me second guess our household’s frugal intensity level. And let’s just say that I’m not shy of turning it up a notch.

The first in this sporadic series will focus on where I found frugal inspiration recently: citrus peels. Our lemon tree has begun to offer some of the Meyer Lemons it has been working on all year, so I hope to make good use of them (besides sending their peels to the composter)!

  • Freshen up the Garbage Disposal: Sometimes our garbage disposal gets a little smelly. I save some of our lemon peels in a small container and throw one down the garbage disposal every now and then for an instant purification and good smell.
  • Add Fragrance to a Natural Cleaner: Soak citrus peels in vinegar for two weeks and mix up a solution of vinegar/water natural cleaner for a wonderful smelling, homemade product.
  • Make Linen Spray: I stayed at a hotel once that offered a small bottle of lavender linen spray. What a lovely way to freshen up the sheets! Why not make your own by soaking citrus peels in hot water, allowing the water to cool, and putting it in an old spray bottle? You can keep this by your bedside or spray your guest sheets right before future company arrives.
  • Use for Zest in Recipes: You can use the peels for zest for a current recipe, zest the peel and freeze for later, or freeze the peels and then use to make zest later. If you don’t normally use zest in your baking, make zest ice cubes instead! Or, you could make citrus sugar and dip the rim of drink glasses in it.
  • Soak in Tea for Orange/Lemon/Lime Tea: Make homemade tea with a citrus flare by adding peels to the boil.
  • Candy Them: Martha Stewart offers a lovely recipe for candied citrus peels.

Please share your own uses in the comments below.

12 comments… add one

  • We always toss peels from citrus fruits down the sink and run them through the disposal. It definitely keeps it fresh.
    Money Beagle recently posted..Watching The NFL In A Whole New Way

    • FruGal

      Yeah, this is one of my favorite tips that I just learned from someone about a year ago.

  • These are really cool tips, I’m definitely going to try the garbage disposal one. Also, what an awesome experience that must have been to study with someone who sat on Parliament!
    Shannon-ReadyForZero recently posted..Why You Should NOT Use Coupons for Grocery Shopping

    • FruGal

      It truly was a great experience. Since I was with the Welsh party, there were only 4 MPs, so we had more face time with them as well as on the committees since they were trying to be everywhere at once.

  • My wife does this exact thing with cleaning products! She doesn’t buy cleaners anymore, just uses the vinegar and water thing, and she adds orange or lemon, just like you said. :-) Great suggestion, it works!
    TB at BlueCollarWorkman recently posted..Get an Oil Change Without Getting Ripped Off

    • FruGal

      Your house must smell nice and fresh without all of the normal chemicals. Might as well use what you already have, right?

  • Great tips! I really want to try that linen spray. I bought my mom lavender linen spray a while back and I kept meaning to pick up some for myself as well. Now, I want to try this instead. Thanks :)
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    • FruGal

      Neat! I hope it turns out for you.

  • mary w

    I always toss a bit of lemon in when I made stock (frequently a lemon cut in half but sometimes just the rind after i’ve juiced it for other purposes). It brightens up the flavor.

    There are recipes (I’ve never tried) for for making preseved/salted lemons using just the rinds.

    • FruGal

      Hi Mary!

      That is really interesting with the stock. Paul and I have really gotten into Vietnamese and other Asian foods, and their soup (Pho) always has a fresh taste of lime in it. It does really brighten the flavor of everything.

      Thanks for sharing!

  • Aurora

    great post! I’m just now coming back to it for the vinegar/citrus cleaner recipe to hopefully make good use of these lime peels on my counter :)

    • FruGal

      Thank you!

      I am about to mix up a new batch of cleaning solution, so am going to add the lemon peel from one of the lemons on our tree. Yay!

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