20 uses for leftover fruit and vegetable peels
The skins of fruit and vegetables are full of flavor and vitamins — and they’ve got a lot to give.
Don’t throw your kitchen scraps away; put them to work. The outer skins of fruit and vegetables are filled with flavor and vitamins, and most often have enough matter left in them for another go-round.
Some people are peelers, some people aren’t. Some people swear by the nutrients and fiber found in produce skins, others shy away from the taste or texture, or prefer removing the outer layer to reduce pesticide load. Regardless of your peeling preferences, citrus rinds, potato and other root/tuber peels, scooped-out avocados, and even cheese rinds all have more than one life.
Aim to use organic produce in these applications, and make sure to scrub well. And if you don’t have time or need for them at the moment, most of them can be frozen for future use.
1. Clean greasy messes: Before bringing out the big (toxic) cleaning guns in the kitchen, try lemon. Sprinkle affected area with salt or baking soda (to act as an abrasive) and then rub with juiced lemon halves. (Be careful using lemon on sensitive surfaces such as marble.)
2. Shine your coffee pot: For the old diner trick to make glass coffee pots sparkle: add ice, salt and lemon rinds to an empty coffee pot; swirl around for a minute or two, dump and rinse well.
3. Clean your tea kettle: For mineral deposit build up in tea kettles, fill the vessel with water and a handful of lemon peels and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and let sit for an hour, drain and rinse well.
4. Dye fabric: Pomegranate peels make for great coloring material. Use a stainless steel pot large enough to cover the fabric, fill with hot water and add peels, let it sit overnight. Simmer the water and peels the next day and then remove peels and add wet fabric. Simmer gently for one hour and allow to cool overnight. Remove the next day, rinse in cool water — from thereon, wash with similar colors.
5. Make zest: If you’ve juiced lemons, limes, oranges or grapefruit but don’t have an immediate need for zest, you can make it anyway and dry or freeze it for future use. Zest is a versatile item to have on hand for a bright boost in any number of dishes. If you don’t have a microplane or zester, you can also use the small side of a box grater. Try to scrape just the outer layer, the white layer of pith is bitter. Freeze in an airtight container. To dry, spread the zest on a towel and leave until dried, then store in a clean jar.
6. Make citrus extract powder: Make zest or twists (lemons, limes, oranges or grapefruit) being sure to remove the pith and allow to dry, about three or four days for twists, less for zest. Put in a blender (or spice grinder) and pulverize into a powder. Store in a clean jar.
7. Make citrus sugar: Make citrus extract powder and add it to sugar, or you can use fresh twists, put them in a jar with sugar, let the oil from the peel infuse the sugar and remove.
8. Make lemon pepper: Mix lemon extract powder with freshly cracked pepper.
9. Make citrus olive oil: Pound citrus peel (pith removed) in a mortar and pestle with some oil added. Place in a jar with more oil and let rest for six hours. Strain into a clean jar.
10. Make infusions: Infuse honey or vinegar with citrus peels by placing twists and letting the flavors seep. Strain the liquid and store in a clean jar.
11. Make potato crisps: Mix potato peels with enough lemon juice and olive oil to evenly coat. Spread the potato peels in a layer on a baking sheet and cook at 400 degrees, stirring once, until golden brown (about 10 minutes). Season to taste.
12. Make stock: Boil potato peels, onion skins, carrot peels, leek ends, etc. for vegetable stock. (Also save fresh herb stems for this!)
13. Boost soup and stock: Cheese rinds (sans wax) can be placed in soup stocks for an awesome secret boost of flavor and texture.
14. Add “meat” to greens: Cheese rinds can also be added to braised greens for added depth of flavor.
15. Keep brown sugar soft: If you regularly fall victim to the brick in the pantry known as hardened brown sugar, try adding some lemon peel (with traces of pulp and pith removed) to keep it moist and pliable.
16. Make vanilla sugar: If you use fresh vanilla, after scraping the bean, add the pod to sugar to make vanilla-infused sugar.
17. Make a banana sugar scrub: Sprinkle sugar on the flesh side of banana peels and use as a soft, exfoliating loofa. Rub gently all over your body and then rinse in the shower.
18. Refresh your face: For a skin tonic, rub orange or grapefruit peels on your face (avoiding your eyes) and then gently rinse with warm water.
19. Moisturize: Rub the fleshy part of an avocado peel on your face for a rich moisturizer.
20. Relieve your peepers: Potato peels can reduce puffiness around eyes; press the moist side of the fresh peels to the skin for 15 minutes.
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20 household things you can clean with salt
Add this kitchen mainstay to your arsenal of natural cleaners.
Thu, Jan 31 2013 at 3:52 PM
As an enthusiastic green-cleaning connoisseur, I’ve tried almost every DIY solution on the Internet. Vinegar, baking soda, washing soda and castile soap are my mainstays, but black tea, lemon juice and peppermint oil are tucked into my arsenal as well. My cleanser of choice is vinegar — I use it to clean almost every surface in my home, from carpets to counters, and oh but I love its cheap and powerful nontoxic goodness. And, I recently learned that I could pump up the potency of this antibacterial maverick with the simple addition of table salt. Amazing! An easy paste made from 1 part vinegar + 1 part salt will do double duty on those extra-tough stains, tarnish and mineral deposits. And that got me wondering: What else salt can clean? As it turns out … a lot!
1. I love my cast iron cookware and I’m going to use this method next time I need to deep-clean it: fill the bottom of the pot/pan with oil, heat it up a bit and then add a few tablespoons of course salt. This will form a paste, which you can use to scrub-a-dub-dub. Rinse with hot water and then wipe dry.
2. To clean enamel cookware, a paste of equal parts salt and vinegar will do an excellent job.
3. For those burnt crusties on the bottom of pans, apply a sprinkling of salt as soon as you’re finished cooking. This will help the sticky stuff come up later.
4. To deal with extra-greasy pans, add a bit of salt and then use a piece of paper to buff. Follow with a normal wash.
5. Clean oven spills with a mixture of mostly salt and a dash of cinnamon. Keep this mixture on hand so that you can cover spills (both inside and stove top) as soon as they happen. The salt will absorb the liquid and both salt and cinnamon will fight any odors. Wait to cool completely before wiping away with water.
6. To clean your automatic coffee maker’s coffee pot, add a few tablespoons of salt to the water and bring the whole thing to a boil.
7. To remove stubborn coffee stains from cups, use a sponge to rub them with a paste made from salt and vinegar. Rinse with water.
8. To shine most metals (steel, silver, gold, pewter), make a paste from equal parts salt, flour and vinegar. Use a cloth to rub it on, let it sit for an hour, then rinse with water and wipe dry.
9. Shine up your chrome (sink faucets and other fixtures) with a mixture made from 2 tablespoons salt and 1 teaspoon vinegar. Buff with a rag then rinse with water and wipe dry.
10. To shine up copper and brass, take half a lemon, squeeze out the juice, then sprinkle salt inside the rind. Rub this all over the brass/copper, then rinse with water and wipe dry.
11. To remove the tarnish from real silver flatware, put a piece of aluminum foil over the bottom of a pan. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking soda, fill with water and drop the silver in. Bring to a boil and watch the magic happen. After 5 minutes or so, remove from the heat and let cool before rinsing.
12. To remove rust from metal, make a paste from salt, cream of tartar and water. Apply the paste and then let the item sit in the sun to dry. Buff clean.
13. Keep your sponges fresher, longer, by soaking them in a saltwater solution after cleaning with them.
14. Clean out your refrigerator with a simple mixture of salt and soda water. It works, and there’s no strange smells to infiltrate your food.
15. Buff and brighten your cutting boards once in a while after using them. Just rub with a damp washcloth dipped in salt.
16. To deal with water cup rings or other marks on the surface of your wooden furniture, make a paste of vegetable oil and salt. Use a rag to rub it in, then use a clean rag to wipe it off. This can also work for treating nicks and dents.
17. Treat your carpet stains with a paste of 1/4 cup salt and 2 tablespoons vinegar. Rub it in, allow to dry and then vacuum clean.
18. To treat mildew stains on cloth, make a paste of equal parts salt and lemon juice. Apply this to the stain and then hang in the sun to dry. Follow with normal laundering.
19. Freshen and whiten your faded or yellowed linens by boiling them in a salt and baking soda solution. In a washing tub or large pot, add 5 tablespoons of salt and 1 tablespoon of baking soda. Boil for 15 to 30 minutes, then remove and rinse in cold water.
20. Remove soap scum from bathroom tile by scrubbing with a solution of 1 part salt in 4 parts vinegar. Wipe clean with a damp rag.
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