Seeds, stems, leaves, and peels…When we cook a lot, we tend to discard a lot. Composting is great, but there are lots of fun projects that’ll help you make the most of each ingredient. Case in point: citrus! There are countless ways to give those oranges, lemons, and grapefruits a second life. Here are a few of our favorites:
The outer layer of a citrus fruit peel, zest contains the fruit’s oils. Just a bit of zest can brighten up any recipe. You can remove zest from a peel using a Microplane zester/grater, the side of a box grater, or very carefully with a sharp knife. Just make sure to scrape only the colored layer; the white pith is bitter! To store, freeze in an airtight container. For dry zest, spread it on a towel and let rest until dry before storing.
Spruce up drinks
Juice extra lemon into an ice tray, carefully avoiding seeds. Freeze, then store cubes in a ziplock freezer bag. You can also slice excess lemon into thin half moons, spread them out on a baking sheet, and freeze them for a few hours. Once they’re solid, you transfer them to a ziplock freezer bag. Next time you’re looking to brighten up your water, soda, or cocktail, toss in a few lemon cubes or frozen slices!
Make citrus olive oil
Remove the pith from the citrus peel, then pound peel with a bit of olive oil using a mortar and pestle. Place in a jar with more oil and let rest for six hours. Strain into a clean jar. Keep refrigerated and use infused oil within 1-2 weeks.
Citrus fruits are packed with Vitamin C, Folate, and Potassium. Lemons in particular are full of powerful antioxidants that can refresh your skin by helping it shed dead skin cells.For an easy skin tonic, simply rub lemon, orange, or grapefruit peel on your face (avoid your eyes). Gently rinse with water.
Slice citrus into rounds, then cut rounds into halves or quarters. Fill jar halfway with half of ingredients (1-2 lemons per cup of honey), and stir gently to mix. Add remaining half of ingredients and stir gently again. Cover and store in refrigerator. After 4 hours, stir to combine honey with the juices that have released. Keep in refrigerator for up to 1-2 months, topping off with more honey as desired.
Use lemons to clean up greasy messes. Sprinkle affected area with an abrasive (salt or baking soda) and then rub with juiced lemon halves. (Use caution if applying lemon to sensitive surfaces like marble.) You can also remove build-up in a teakettle by filling it with water and a handful of lemon peels, then bringing to a boil. Turn off the heat, let it sit for an hour, then drain and rinse.