If you’re a fan of oranges, you may find yourself with an overabundance of leftover orange peels in your home, especially when oranges are in season. If you find yourself wondering what to do with all these peels rather than throwing them in the trash, let me offer some suggestions to help you put your leftover orange peels to good use.
How To Use Leftover Orange Peels
I recommend purchasing organic oranges anytime you are planning to use leftover orange peels as this will cut down on the exposures to pesticides that are commonly sprayed on citrus fruits.
1. Dried Orange Peel
A great way to use leftover orange peels is to dry them and add them to your herbal apothecary.
Sweet orange peel is a great addition to many herbal remedies. It is a warming herb that not only stimulates the digestive tract but also dermic function as well (Wood, 2008). Sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) essential oil comes from the peel of orange, and it and the peel share many of the same actions.
To dry orange peel, cut your leftover orange peels into small pieces and leave them laying on a drying screen until they are hard and break like a cracker. You can also dry them in a dehydrator for several hours or in an oven set to a low temperature.
2. Fresh Orange Zest
It never fails that a recipe calls for fresh orange zest, and I don’t have any oranges on hand. However, freezing leftover orange peels can be a great solution to this problem.
Orange zest, or any citrus zest for that matter, yields its volatile oil content to your food, and when you freeze leftover orange peels, this volatile oil content is preserved in the flesh of the orange.
Anytime you find yourself with leftover orange peels, throw them in a glass container and put them in the freezer. Later, when you plan your meals for the week, pull a peel or two from your freezer and place it in the refrigerator to thaw if a meal calls for fresh orange zest.
3. DIY Infused Orange Vinegar
Another thing you can do with leftover orange peels is to use them to make an infused orange vinegar cleaner for your home. You can make this vinegar infusion from fresh or frozen orange peels and use it in a variety of ways.
Vinegar infusions are not only great for your health, but they can be used in food recipes and to clean your home in a variety of ways. Vinegar extracts alkaloids, trace elements, and minerals from plants, adding to its nutritional value (Forêt, 2008).
4. Candied Orange Peel
Making candied orange peel is a great way to use leftover orange peels. They can be eaten on their own or used on top of other desserts to make them more festive. They can also be used similarly to dried orange peel for their health benefits, but their sugar content is going to cancel out some of the health benefits so I like to used candied orange peel sparingly.
Candied orange peel is easy to make and makes a great occasional treat, especially around the holidays.
Candied Orange Peel
Adapted from Epicurious
2 large oranges
3 cups water
4 cups sugar (divided)
- Peel oranges and cut peels into ¼ inch strips.
- Boil cut peels in water for 15 minutes. Drain and rinse well.
- Combine 3 cups sugar and 3 cups water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently until sugar is dissolved. Add orange peels and bring to a full boil. Immediately turn heat down and simmer peels for 45 minutes. Drain.
- Toss peels in remaining cup of sugar. Remove peels and place them somewhere to dry completely (usually 1-2 days). Store in an airtight container.
As you can see, there are several ways you can make good use of leftover orange peels. If you’re not up for using or storing your orange peels to use later, be sure to toss them into the compost so they can benefit your soil and future plants!
Do you have a favorite way to use leftover orange peels? Share your tips and uses with us over on the Herbal Academy Facebook page!
Forêt, R. D. (2008). What’s Chemistry Got to do With It? Retrieved May 11, 2017, from http://www.methowvalleyherbs.com/2008/09/whats-chemistry-got-to-do-with-it.html
Wood, M. (2008). The earthwise herbal: a complete guide to Old World medicinal plants. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.