Fruit And Vegetable Peel Uses – Interesting Uses For Old Peels

Pile Of Potato Skin Peels
(Image credit: digitalr)

It’s an interesting thing about the peels of many fruits and vegetables; many of them are edible and yet we either throw them out or compost them. Don’t get me wrong, composting is great, but what if you could find other uses for old peels?

There are in fact a plethora of fruit and vegetable peel uses. Some of the things to do with peels will surprise you, while other uses for old peels are fairly common sense. Keep reading to find out what to do with peelings.

Things to Do with Peels

As you prepare salad, soup, or stew, fill a container with the peelings and other discarded produce; you will be surprised at the volume of wasted food. Sure it can go in the compost but why when there are so many other things to do with peels.

Fruit Peel Uses

Have you ever considered the peel of an orange? That’s quite a bit of waste that most people don’t eat even though it’s perfectly edible. What to do with peelings from an orange instead? Put them (or lemon or lime rinds) down the garbage disposal to clean and deodorize the unit.

Try making citrus peelings into candy. All it takes is some water, sugar, citrus peels, and a candy thermometer. Citrus peels can also be infused into simple syrup, an equal mixture of water and dissolved sugar to flavor cocktails or tea. They can be infused into liqueurs, vinegars, or oils as well.

Lemon peels are high in citric acid, a natural cleanser. Mix vinegar, water, and citrus peels into a spray bottle and use it to clean areas around the kitchen or bath. Rinse with water after use and revel in the fresh citrus scent.

Grapefruit rinds are high in fiber and antioxidants. Use the peel to make tea. Just steep grapefruit peels in boiling water and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Sweeten with honey.

Banana peels get a bad rap and are primarily the butt of jokes, but there is an interesting use for old peels of banana. Use banana peels to shine shoes or houseplants. Wipe them with a clean cloth after polishing.

Other Uses for Old Fruit Peels

You may have noticed that fruit is a primary ingredient in many beauty products. Take avocado, for instance. This fruit is said to have moisturizing properties and can be found in shampoos, conditioners, and lotions. Why not use the discarded peel from your avocado sandwich to give your skin a boost? Just rub the inside of the peel on your skin and leave it on for 15 minutes. Rinse with cool water and blot dry.

Use old fruit peels to scent the air in your home. Citrus is perfect for this, but apple or pear peels lend a lovely aroma as well, especially when combined with cinnamon sticks. Either dry the peelings and use them in potpourri or steep them in hot water to impart a burst of citrus into the air.

What to Do with Peelings from Vegetables

With their sharp fragrance, citrus fruits seem to be obvious candidates for things to do with peels, but what about vegetable peel uses? Are there things to do with peels from veggies besides composting? There is a multitude of uses for peels from vegetables besides composting them.

It turns out that there are plenty of things to do with veggie peelings. Use either the leftovers from juicing or whiz up some veggie peels in the food processor and combine with coarse raw sugar, honey, and olive oil for a facial scrub that is nutrient-rich.

If you would rather eat your discarded veggie peels, here’s a great idea: baked veggie peels. Just mix the root veggie peels like potato, parsnip, or carrot with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper, and any spices (such as garlic powder or curry). Place the peels on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake at 400 F. (204 C.) until the peels are crispy and browned. Check the peels at six minutes to see if they are done; if not, cook an additional 2-4 minutes. 

If using potato peels, cook immediately or they become gray to pink and mushy. Other root vegetable peels can be kept in the fridge for a few days until you are ready to bake them.

Lastly, a fabulous thing to do with veggie peels is to add them to vegetarian stock. Just cover root veggie peelings along with the ends from celery, the skin of some onions, beet or carrot tops, even tomato ends along with parsley or other herb stems with water and simmer. Be aware that the bright colored peels of beet may result in a reddish stock, but is still usable.

NOTE: While this may seem common sense, it is important to note that prior to using ANY peelings for consumption or use in home beauty products, you should thoroughly wash them to remove any possible pesticides, dirt, or other materials.

Amy Grant

Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.