I plan to run a series on re-uses for things that we normally pitch in the garbage without a second thought. Grandmother's pearl of wisdom, "Waste not, want not" can hold meaning for us as well. Today I will be featuring ways to use an orange peel. My daughter is on a clementine fetish right now, so after pitching the umpteenth peel in the garbage, I began to wonder what other use these skins could be. So whether it's an orange peel, clementine, tangerine, or even grapefruit, one of these ideas may prove helpful.
- In-sink Garbage Disposal Freshener/Cleaner: Run very cold water down your kitchen drain to solidify any fats or oils, then throw a few ice cubes and an orange peel while the disposer is running. The peel gives a pleasant citrus scent to the disposal and the ice cubes clean off the hardened oils.
- Air Freshener: Boil water in a small saucepan with a few cinnamon sticks or even ground spices in your cabinet and an orange peel for a delightful "fresh-baked" smell. Be sure to watch as the water boils away to refill or turn off the burner.
- Food Enhancer: You may want to use organic orange peels or wash them very well, but citrus "zest" is a common ingredient to enhance the flavors of certain desserts. My favorite cheesecake recipe uses it. The zest refers specifically to the colored portion of the peel, not the white, bitter portion, or pith. The best way to remove this is to use a zester, micro-planer or a fine grater. You can also make orange-flavored sugar (sounds like a great combination with hot tea!) by adding the zest of 3 oranges to 2 cups sugar.
- Facial Mask: Allow peels to dry 24-48 hours, then pulverize with a spoon or blender until powder. Mix with equal parts water (if acne prone) or milk. Add a touch of honey to make it stick better to the face and moisturize your skin. Leave on for 15-30 minutes before gently washing away with water. Gently exfoliates and removes excess oil, leaving the skin fresh.
- Fire Kindling: Dried orange peel makes a great fire starter as the oil in the peel makes it flammable, yet burn slower than newspaper.
- Brown Sugar Softener: Got a boulder of hard brown sugar in the cabinet? Add an orange peel and allow to sit overnight.
- Plant Protector: Rub plant leaves with orange peel to remove dirt and dust build-up. Also, orange oil is a know cat repellent, so try rubbing the leaves with the colored portion of the rind or leave a bit of zest in the pot to discourage your cat.
Know a use I didn't mention? Please leave it in the comments section. I would love to add any other ideas readers may have!