Citrus peels: 3 no-waste ideas

Peels, roots, scraps – every day, our kitchens produce a certain amount of vegetable waste. The components that are unsuitable for consumption usually end up on the compost heap or in the garbage can, but much of it can still be used in the household and in the kitchen. On the one hand, this reduces household waste, and on the other, you save money and a trip or two to the supermarket. Since the possibilities are very diverse, we present you a few great and simple no-waste recipes.

No Waste briefly explained

The principle

“No Waste” describes a lifestyle or approach that avoids creating waste in the first place. What we would normally dispose of and throw in the trash is made into something new or reused in a different way, which is why less (or ideally nothing) is thrown away. The root causes of the idea are the massive amounts of trash we produce in our daily lives – which also has to be disposed of somewhere, somehow. This often involves a great deal of energy consumption and damages our environment. Entire movements and philosophies have now developed in which practitioners live a more or less garbage-free life and consciously avoid using plastic. This principle/lifestyle is also known as “Zero Waste”.

Therefore, it is great

The benefits of the no-waste principle are actually self-explanatory: less waste means, of course, that the environment is protected. And if we’re honest with ourselves, with the amount of waste we produce, even the smallest effort is worth a lot. What’s more, the relevant leftovers, along with a few simple ingredients, can be turned into cost-effective alternatives, such as cleaning products. This in turn saves money.

Currently, citrus fruits are still in season, so they probably end up in your shopping cart quite often. Of course, this also means a lot of peels that have to be disposed of. Because of their fruity-fresh aroma and acidity, the peels of oranges, lemons and other fruits can not only be used to make great cleaning products, but can also be used again in the kitchen. If you have your own citrus trees and enjoy ripe fruit, you should avoid chemical pesticides when caring for them. When shopping at the supermarket, it is also important to choose fruits that are organically grown. Conventionally grown citrus fruits are often heavily contaminated with harmful pesticides and chemical ripening agents that cannot be washed off. By the way, here you can read about what to look for when harvesting citrus and how to recognize the ripest and tastiest fruit on the supermarket shelf.

3 recipe ideas

  1. citrus powder from ground lemon peel

We want to start with a true all-rounder: a fruity powder made from dried lemon peels. It can be stored for a long time and is a great base for many recipes; in the kitchen alone, it can be used universally, whether as an ingredient in spice blends, an additive for refreshing drinks and smoothies, or in pastries. In our magazine you will also find a nice general guide to drying and dehydrating.

Citrus peels: 3 no-waste ideas
The aromatic powder also peps up cookies, cakes or waffles – here in combination with powdered sugar, vanilla and dried raspberries

What you need

  • Fresh lemons, amount to taste (we recommend working with a small amount to start with).
  • Alternatively, oranges, tangerines and limes will also work.
  • Peeler, knife or grater
  • baking tray or grid, oven
  • Mortar or (coffee) grinder
  • Small, dark canning jar or other light/air-tight container

This is how it is done

First, wash the fruit as thoroughly as possible under hot water. While they are draining, you can prepare and preheat the oven. Set it to 40 to 50 degrees (circulating air). Now dry the prepared fruit and peel off the skins with a sharp knife or peeler in not too big shreds; try to leave the white fibers on the fruit as much as possible. A grater will also work. Alternatively, of course, you can collect peels and store them in the refrigerator for a few days if you don’t want to peel so many fruits at once.

The trays are then evenly distributed on the baking tray or rack and placed in the oven. To allow the moisture to escape, leave the oven door open a crack. To do this, you can simply clamp a wooden spoon in the door. The drying time is about 3 to 4 hours, depending on the temperature and thickness of the shells. Once the shells are really completely dry, you can take them out and let them cool. Then grind them in a mortar or grinder to a fine powder – done. Finally, the powder only needs to be filled into a light- and air-tight container and sealed.

Tip: If you have a lot of peels, you don’t necessarily have to process them all into powder; set aside a few pieces of the dried peels and spice up your cup of herbal tea with them!

  1. fragrant orange oil

This fragrant oil makes a great base, whether used as a nourishing and pampering body oil or as a base for aromatic spice oils.

What you need

  • Base oil in organic quality of your choice, quantity as desired (e.g. hazelnut, almond, sunflower, olive)
  • Orange powder
  • Dark glass bottles for storage
Citrus peels: 3 no-waste ideas
Somewhat coarser powder, here a mixture of orange and lemon peel

This is how it is done

For the orange powder, proceed in the same way as described above for the lemon. Then you put 3-4 teaspoons (or more, depending on your preference), together with the desired amount of oil in a suitable container. As always, when bottling something and storing it, make sure the jar is as light and airtight as possible. Turn it upside down a few times to mix the oil with the powder. Then the oil must infuse for about 1 week in a dark and and cool place. Every now and then you can slowly turn it back and forth to mix everything. Once it’s infused, you’re ready to move on: Grab the bottle of your choice and pour the oil in through a coffee filter (or an appropriate substitute such as a filter cloth). You can put the filter in a strainer, it will make your job easier. This way, any powder residue will be removed from the oil. Close, label, ready.

This procedure is the basis for many variations: In the kitchen, you can fill herbs, such as rosemary or thyme, and let them infuse. It is best to use dried herbs and make sure that they are always completely covered with oil, i.e. have no contact with the air. This way you minimize the risk of something going moldy. Olive oil or a neutral vegetable oil, such as sunflower or canola oil, are particularly suitable for this purpose. Walnut oil or pumpkin seed oil are also tasty and healthy options. You can use your orange oil in salads and soups, but also hearty meat dishes or a hearty oven vegetable with pumpkin fit perfectly. If you want to know more about pickling, we have a great overview for you.

Plant oils are also great for skin care, especially in the winter when the dry heating air gets to you. A fragrant addition is, for example, real vanilla, but also lavender and lemon balm are a nice addition. Nourishing oils, such as argan, hazelnut or almond oil are very suitable as a base.

  1. natural citrus vinegar cleaner.

Citrus fruits and their peels don’t just look good in the kitchen. Because of their essential oils, they make a great household helper when combined with white vinegar. If you want to make an efficient and completely organic vinegar cleaner that can be made in no time, then this recipe will be of interest to you!

What you need

  • Peels of lemons (oranges, tangerines, blood oranges, and limes also work wonderfully).
  • White table vinegar (vinegar essence as an alternative).
  • A large, clean canning jar that can be sealed airtight
  • A strainer
  • A spray bottle or similar to bottle the finished cleaner (preferably glass)

How to make it

First, cut the peels into smaller pieces so that they fit better into the jar. Then fill them into the jar. Fill the jar properly so that nothing floats to the top afterwards and then pour on the vinegar. Important: The shells must be completely covered with liquid, so that nothing can mold. If you use vinegar essence, it must be diluted with water in a ratio of 1:4 (i.e. 1 part vinegar essence, 4 parts water). Now you just have to close the jar. Place it in a warm place and let it steep there for 2 to 3 weeks. The heat will help the essential oils to dissolve from the peels.

Since the citrus peels are quite absorbent and will absorb some of the vinegar, you will need to check periodically to make sure the peels are still completely covered and add vinegar if necessary. Periodically mix the solution by gently turning the jar around or shaking it gently. You can tell when the cleaner is ready because the lemons will gradually release their color to the vinegar and turn pale. Finally, pour the solution through a fine strainer into the spray bottle and your homemade citrus vinegar cleaner is ready to go!

With this vinegar cleaner, as with all acid and vinegar cleaners, be careful with delicate and chalky surfaces (such as natural stone floors or silicone grout). They can be damaged and stained by the acid. In the bathroom and kitchen, on the other hand, it’s a great helper: kitchen appliances, such as your tea kettle, coffee maker or oven, can be super cleaned with it. As an ecological toilet and bathroom cleaner, it also reliably removes limescale and dirt. It is best to spray it on the affected areas, work it in with a damp sponge and let it work for a few minutes. If you want it a little foamier, you can also add a small dash of dishwashing liquid or hand soap.