If you’re throwing away your fruit and vegetable peels in the trash, then you’re making a big mistake. Peels might not have been valued much in the past, but that’s slowly changing. Today, the world is starting to live by the ‘waste not, want not’ mantra. As the strain on our resources becomes heavier, we need to start finding new ways to use previously discarded items. Fruit and vegetable peels are one of the most versatile ingredients in the kitchen, but are sadly barely used. If you’re trying to find innovative ways to utilize them, here are eight ideas to help you get started.
1. Potato Peels Make Delicious Crisps
While you could always leave the peels on when you’re cooking potatoes to avoid wasting them, some recipes specifically call for peeled potatoes. In this case, save the peels to make a delicious, healthy snack. Most of the nutrition in potatoes are stored in their peel, so to throw them away would be sacrilegious. Instead, bake them in an oven until they’re crisp and season with salt, garlic powder and paprika. Serve these as a snack alongside a hummus or sour cream dip. Your guests will love them and you won’t have to spend a bomb entertaining.
2. Lemon Peels Can Remove Hard Water Deposits
If you live in a place that has hard water, most of your appliances are probably coated with the white mineral deposits that it carries. Your kettle in particular is especially susceptible to this since it comes into contact with the hard water all the time. If you have leftover lime or lemon peels after juicing the fruit, they can be your best weapons against limescale. Fill your kettle with water and lemon peels, then bring it to a boil. The natural oils and acid in the peels will loosen up the deposits, making them easier to remove.
3. Orange Peels Make For Fragrant Potpourris
Air fresheners really can’t mimic the warm scent of potpourri. If you have leftover orange peels, you can make your own wonderfully citrusy bowl of it. Collect peels from a bunch of oranges, cover them with a paper towel and microwave on low for about five minutes to extract their natural oils. Then store these peels in a cool, dark place until they’re completely dry. In a plastic bag, take as many of your favorite aromatic spices like clove, cinnamon and nutmeg as you like. Smash these up with a hammer to make their scent stronger. Combine the dried peels along with the spices and other woodsy things (like acorns and twigs) in a bowl. This little bowl is going to fill your house with the most wonderful autumn fragrance.
4. Vegetable Peels Make A Great Stock
Soups are ridiculously easy to make at home as long as you’ve got the stock ready. The best part about making a stock is that you can literally chuck all your leftovers in it and it will still come out great. Vegetable peels lend both flavor and nutrition to your stock. Simply add peels from vegetables like carrots and parsnips to a pot of boiling water along with celery, garlic and onions. Once this comes to a boil, strain the mixture and use the remaining stock as the base for a soup. You can also make a large batch of stock and freeze it so you can have some on hand whenever you feel like hot soup.
5. Apple Peels Help You Upgrade Your Tea
Apple peels are incredibly nutritious and should never be thrown away. If you don’t like eating apples with their skin on, there are still plenty of better places for the peel than the garbage can. The next time you brew a cup of tea, add some apple peel to the water. The peel will make your tea naturally sweet, add a lot of flavor and even extra nutrients. If you find it hard to force down bitter green tea, apple peels can come as a boon to you.
6. Use Peels To Make Compost
If you have a garden, making your own compost will save you a lot of money on fertilizer. They will also help your plants grow better than they ever have before. Add all your unused peels to a layer of soil and then cover this with more soil. While the vegetable peels decompose, they release nitrogen into the soil. Nitrogen is very important for plants to grow, so the more nitrogen soil contains, the more fertile it is. Use this soil in your garden or flower pots to do your bit in making the world greener.
7. Citrus Peels Make A Great Glass Of Mulled Wine
Nothing says “’tis the season to be jolly” like a glass of mulled wine. This drink tastes delicious, smells even better and warms you up from the inside. If you have leftover peels from oranges, grapefruit or lemons, prepare to make the best mulled wine you’ve ever tasted. Add 200 grams of castor sugar to a saucepan, along with your peels, star anise, a bay leaf, some cinnamon and nutmeg. Add a splash of red wine to it and stir until fully melted. Once this mixture comes to a bowl, stir gently until it reduces to a thick syrup. Use this syrup as a base and pour red wine over it.
8. Lemon Peels Are Great Candle Holders
Lemon peels are the perfect candle holders for the lazy DIY-er. They not only look beautiful, but also add a natural lemon scent to the candles you’re making. Cut a lemon in half and scoop out the pulpy insides. Add melted candle wax into the shell along with a wick. When you light this candle, the heat will encourage the natural oils within the lemon peel to release their fragrance.