Waste Not: 15 Practical Uses for Fruit and Vegetable Peels


Waste is never good and that includes your kitchen scraps. Lemon and other citrus rinds, potato and carrot peels, cheese rinds and scooped up avocado have more than one use. Aside from being filled with flavors and vitamins, fruit and vegetable peels have enough stock in them for another use. So don’t throw your kitchen scraps away and put them to good use. Here are 20 practical suggestions to use and reuse your fruit and vegetable peels.

1. Make homemade jelly


Don’t throw your apple core and apple peels when you’re done making apple muffins or apple pie. Use them to make homemade apple jelly. Bring to a boil apple core and apple peels in a Dutch oven then pour it through a fine wire mesh strainer into a saucepan. Whisk in water, sugar and powdered pectin, and then add a clove and cinnamon stick. Bring this to a boil and then pour into sterilized jars. The recipe takes less than an hour while the jelly will keep for about a month if kept refrigerated.

2. Make your own Citrus zest

Zest is a versatile item to have on hand to give a bright boost to any dish. You can dry or freeze your own citrus zest if you don’t have an immediate need for it. Grate off the outer layer using a zester or a microplane, taking care to avoid scraping the bitter white layer. Freeze in an air tight container. You can also dry the zest by spreading it on a towel until it dries, then storing it in a clean jar.

3. Make potato and carrot crisps

Mix potato and carrot peels with olive oil to coat them evenly. Spread the peels on a baking sheet and bake at 400°F for 5 minutes on one side. Turn or stir the peels then bake for another 5 minutes or until golden brown on both sides. Sprinkle with salt to taste. This is healthier than store bought crisps as it’s made with less salt and fat.

4. Make vegetable stock

Save your potato peels, carrot peels, onion skins, leek ends and stems from fresh herbs for making a tasty vegetable stock. You can also add cheese rind sans the wax to give your vegetable stock more depth in flavor.

5. Make vanilla sugar


Prepackaged vanilla sugar can be costly. Fortunately, it’s easy to make your own. After scraping a vanilla bean, add the pod to a jar of sugar and leave it there to infuse the sugar. Next time you’re out of vanilla extract, you can use vanilla sugar and your baked goodies will have the same vanilla taste and aroma.

6. Keep brown sugar soft

Keep your brown sugar from hardening by placing a few lemon peels with the pulp and pith removed in the jar containing your brown sugar. This should keep the sugar soft and pliable.

7. Make your own potpourri

You can save a few dollars on air freshener by making your own potpourri. Citrus rinds and apple, pomegranate and other fragrant fruit peels and trimmings could be dried completely and used for your homemade potpourri. You can keep the dried fruit peels and trimmings in an air tight jar if you have no intention of using it right away.

8. Make coffee pots sparkle

Lemon rind is great in cleaning glass coffee pots and making them sparkle like new. Place some ice, salt and lemon rinds in an empty coffee pot. Swirl this for a few minutes then empty it out. Rinse well with warm water and your coffee pot should sparkle like new.

9. Clean mineral deposits

Use lemon peels to clean your tea kettle of mineral build up. Fill the kettle with water then add a few lemon peels. Bring the water to a boil, turn off the heat then let this sit for about an hour. Later drain the water and rinse with warm water. The deposits should wash away.

10. Make your own grease buster


Before bringing out your heavy-duty grease busting detergents in the kitchen, try using lemon to get the work done. Just sprinkle your stove top or any area with grease with baking soda or salt to act as an abrasive then rub it with juiced lemon halves. This will effectively remove the grease.

11. Make a homemade dye

The natural pigment in pomegranate peels make for great homemade dye. Use a stainless steel pot large enough to accommodate the fabric. Pour enough hot water to cover the fabric then add the pomegranate peels. Leave this overnight. Simmer the water together with peels the next day. Remove the peels and then add the wet fabric. Let this simmer for another hour then remove from heat. Let this stand overnight. The next day, remove the fabric and rinse with tap water.

12. Make a citrus astringent

Citrus fruits make wonderful natural astringent. Not only help to wash your of excess oil, they’re also rich in vitamin C helping to brighten and replenish your skin. For a refreshing citrus astringent, rub orange or lemon peels on your face and then gently rinse off with warm water. Take care to avoid your eyes when you do this.

13. Make your own body scrub

Don’t throw your banana peels just yet. Use banana peels as a soft, moisturizing loofa. Just sprinkle sugar on the flesh side of a banana peel and rub this gently all over your body. Rinse thoroughly in the shower.

14. Make an all-natural moisturizer

Rub the fleshy part of an avocado peel on your face for a soothing, all-natural moisturizer. Then rinse with warm water and pat dry your face with a towel.

15. Relieve puffy eyes


Potato peels can help reduce the puffiness around tired eyes. Simply press the moist side of the peel on the skin and leave it for 15 minutes. Then just pat dry any moisture afterwards.