Published 27 June 2022 ● Last Updated on 30 June 2022

We love the lemony fragrance and tangy taste of oranges and lemons, but don’t think twice about binning the peels of these fruits we relish so much. Did you know that the citrus peels are in fact more nutritious than the flesh? Loaded with polyphenols, the rind can not only enhance the flavour of foods but also keep unsightly pests and unpleasant odours at bay!

So the next time you have squeezed the life (er, juice) out of these fruits, don’t chuck the peels. Instead, look up our list below to reap maximum benefit and minimum waste from these superfoods. Our ideas will help you transform yourself into a ‘DIY guru’ and put these powerful peels to use at your home and on your plate!

1. Make toxin-free cleaners

Want your house to be sparkling clean and smelling fresh while keeping toxins at bay? Just make your own solution with leftover citrus peels and vinegar. Here’s how: Collect lemon/grapefruit/orange skins in a wide-mouthed glass jar (used jam jars are perfect for the purpose). When it’s filled one-thirds, pour in distilled white vinegar to the top leaving only a small gap and bottle up. The mix needs to sit undisturbed in a dry corner of your home; it will be ready for use in just a month. This infused vinegar solution can

  • add a sparkle to all the glass surfaces and
  • remove layers of grease on your kitchen counters and bathroom surfaces
  • unclog the most stubborn drain when used in combination with baking soda.

Want to up the efficacy and fragrance quotient? 2-3 drops of tea tree oil for its antimicrobial properties or lavender oil for fragrance works the magic.

orange infused vinegar
The inherent anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties make citrus peels the perfect ingredient for a homemade cleaner

2. Create tangy deodorizers

Citrus peels like lemon peels can absorb foul odours lurking around the bottom of a trash bin or that emanating from a refrigerator. So if you don’t want your dustbin to smell like the garbage it contains or your fridge to smell like it’s storing rotting food, toss a few lemon peels and use it like a natural deodoriser.

3. Preserved citrus goodies

For some reason sucking on ‘orangey’ candies just helps me focus and think better (alert: I have no scientific research to back this statement). So the next time you fall short of creative ways to use citrus peels , preserve and repurpose them as candies. This post here goes in detail about candying the peels and preventing them from becoming food waste.

candied grapefruit peel
Not only orange, but grapefruits peels too can be candied and eaten as a yummy snack. Via Instagram @Zinderellee

4. DIY beauty products

No home can be truly eco-friendly without an eco-friendly bathroom as well. This means adopting skin care recipes using kitchen leftovers and eliminating personal care products heavy on microplastics. This is where we have another great DIY citrus peel hack for you to repurpose those peels as body scrubs and bath infusions. With its natural coarseness, powdered orange makes an excellent exfoliant. With its alpha-hydroxy acid content, using lemon peel on your skin has some amazing benefits like treatment of acne, skin brightening and lightening of age spots.

Powdered orange as a face scrub
Cut down on your food waste to make an exfoliating powder from leftover orange peels

5. Enhance the flavour in your dishes & drinks

Power packed with so much flavour, it is really a shame to waste the rind of citrus fruits. The ways in which rind can be used in simple recipes to make marmalades, pickles or even thrown in directly into a meal when its cooking (adding a citrus flavour bomb to the dish), are just numerous. Dried citrus peels can be used as a garnish for salads and all sorts of beverages.

6. Freeze the zest for out of season fun

Do you want to relish citrus flavour in your food long after citrus fruits are out of season? If yes, instead of throwing away citrus peels as garbage, preserve its zest-grated outer skin of citrus fruits-for later use. Use a grater to shred the outer skin of your favourite citrus fruit and freeze them in ice cube trays for convenient use later. You can even stock up on dried zest to use it as a garnish for your favourite recipes.

Store zest in the fridge to keep it handy for your recipes!
Zest can be used fresh, frozen or dried to add a tarty flavour to all the recipes you love

7. Citrus essential oils

With their antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, and their fresh smell, citrus fruits like oranges and lemons make great essential oils. To make essential oil, allow leftover peels to dry for a few hours, cut them into small pieces or grind them and place in a jar with vodka. Leave the mixture standing for a few days before straining it and then leave it uncovered for the alcohol to evaporate. You have just created your own essential oil. Here’s a step by step guide to make orange essential oil if you still need further help.

8. Make a fragrant candle

Not everything needs to be about nutrition and flavours. Some ideas – such as making a candle out of orange skin – are worth trying for purely aesthetic reasons! To repurpose a leftover peel for glam quotient, first cut a fresh orange in neat halves. The key to a beautiful candle is to keep the pith fibres at the centre of the orange intact as you scoop the pulp out. Wrap a cotton wick around this natural wick to create a stable lighting source. Pour in scented oil and light up. Voila! Your balcony centre-piece is ready.

how to make candle from an orange peel
Try using orange peels instead of single-use tea lights for sustainable home décor

We hope these creative ways to use citrus peels will convince you to add to their lifecycle and break the notion of citrus peels being food waste.

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