Can I Use This Fruit Peel?

nick musica
Published Sep 22, 2020. Read time: 7 mins

When we here at FruitStand say we love fruit – we mean every part of it!

As it turns out, all those rinds, peels and stems that help keep the whole thing together are awesome to have around the house, even long after snack time is done.  

A-peel-ingly Useful

If you’re like us, and always have a bowlful of fruit around, you may be sitting on more treasure than you even realized.

Fruit peels and rinds are packed with just as much – and sometimes even more – plant-based powers than the fruits themselves, often holding on to the bulk of a fruit’s essential oils, their textured pith and other useful vitamins and minerals.

And just because we can’t always reap the benefits of these bonus compounds by eating them doesn’t mean they should be destined for the landfill.

In fact, fruit peels and rinds are truly the VIPs of the DIY world, lending their leftover potential to everything from do-it-yourself toiletries to toilet cleaner.

These underappreciated outer shells prove that garbage is truly in the eye of the beholder – and any kind of trash can be turned into treasure.

Cleaning Supplies

There’s a reason so many cleaning supplies smell like citrus. The fruits have a natural prowess for keeping things sparkling.

The mild acid found in citrus peels works wonders at eating through grease and dirt, with lemon rind and orange peel acting as particularly potent weapons in any cleaning supply closet.

Bonus: These all-natural remedies help cut down on the number of chemical cleaners found around the house.

  • Coffee is one of the most notorious stains to remove. But lemon peel – mixed with ice and salt – can act as a potent polisher. Swirl the ingredients around inside a coffee pot, rinse out, and watch it sparkle like new.
  • If you’re more of a tea person, lemon can help you out there, too. Mineral deposits inside kettles are notoriously tough to clean, but boiling some water with lemon peel inside the pot – then letting it sit for an hour before rinsing – can rid it of all those unwanted buildup.
  • When it comes to water stains on the sink, oranges can be particularly helpful. The pithy peels function essentially as a natural sponge, working to remove all those unwanted spots—and smelling nicer than any dish detergent.

Beauty Routines

It’s not just the house that can be spruced up by some extra fruit peels.

The outer shells prove that sometimes beauty is skin deep, making for great cosmetic companions that can help bring about some truly natural beauty.

And while there are enough fruity combinations out there to fill out an entire DIY makeup counter, these are some of our favorites:

  • Avocado peel may be unappealing – but it can really help us look our best. The fleshy part of avocado peels can either be used as a facial scrub, or rubbed into hair during showering. Of course, just remember to let it sink in, and rinse well after either excursion.
  • Another way to freshen up your face is with grapefruit or orange peel. The rinds make for great natural scrubs – just make sure to keep them away from your eyes!
  • If you’re looking for more of an exfoliating experience, you can sprinkle some sugar onto a banana peel before rubbing your face – and body! The natural body scrub treatment should leave everything smoother, softer – and smelling great!
  • For dental beauty, citrus peels can be of service. Rubbing some on your teeth for a minute or so a few time a week – then brushing your teeth normally afterward – can help contribute to a cultivating a megawatt smile.

Dig It

Some fruit peels and rinds love to revisit the past, making for useful tools back where it all began: the garden.

Of course, most fruit peels are great for composting. But there are even more uses for them in our outdoor lives. Score one more point for the circle of life!

  • Discarded orange peels – or grapefruit peel, or any other sturdy outer fruit layer – can be repurposed as DIY (and all-natural) birdfeeders, by filling the cup-shaped skins with seeds.
  • If you’d rather keep outdoor pests away, you can use orange peel as an all-natural insect repellent. Rubbing some rind on your skin – or even sprinkling some zest around your garden – can help keep buzzy flies and mosquitos at bay.
  • If you’re more concerned about protecting your plants, you can turn to the power of cucumber peel. It turns out ants are not a big fan of the scent, and leaving some rinds behind – whether around the perimeter of your garden or even by the doorway of your house – can help deter them from entering. (Keep in mind, however, that this only works so long as the peels are still fresh.)

Perfume Power

Perfumes and sprays have been artificially scented like fruits for ages. So why not go straight to the source?

Fruit peels and rinds are often the smelliest parts of the plant (And we mean that as a compliment!) – as home to most of the fruits essential oils, which tend to carry the sense of scent.

  • Garbage disposals aren’t exactly known for their alluring odors – but a little help from a discarded fruit peel can change all that. Try throwing a lemon, grapefruit or orange peel down there, to lend the scent a more crisp and clean citrus note.
  • Far more than a fun word to say (or everyone’s favorite Jeopardy! category), potpourri is a long-time go-to for keeping houses looking – and smelling – nice. Rather than buy some at the store, forage for your own, using some cinnamon sticks and dried apple, orange or lemon peels. (Tip: It’s helpful to run the rinds through a dehydrator or put them in the oven first, to properly dry them out.)  

Fruit of the Loom

Before there were industrial dyes, people turned to fruit to help color their clothes.

And the same ancient recipes still hold up today, even if they’re rarely used in the age of artificial color.

  • Pomegranate peels, beets, oranges, turmeric, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries can all be used to create fabric or food dye – though each mixes best with different ingredients, so you’ll have to look up specific recipes, depending on the color scheme you’re aiming for.
  • And no closet is complete without a shoe rack. But if you prefer your kickers well-buffed, bananas are your new best friend. The inside of the peels can be used to shine up leather shoes naturally – saving us all from those dreaded polish stains.

Keep It In The Kitchen

Of course, most of these fruit peels and rinds are first brought into our lives in the kitchen.

But their culinary powers don’t end once their sweet insides are snacked on. Some of the best stuff for cooking lives in the fruit’s skin!

  • Zest is the best part of any peel. Lemon zest and orange zest are some of the most popular – though you can experiment on nearly any kind of rind – adding a powerful pop of flavor to anything from soups to sauces to cookies. But beware: The stuff is so potent, it’s often advised to start slow when adding the ingredient.
  • Apple peels and most citrus peels are wonderful ingredients in their own right, making the perfect star ingredient for jellies, jams and marmalades. All you’ll need to add is some sugar, water, lemon juice and love!
  • If you’re not a fan of potpourri, those dried-out fruit skins can work just as well as tea. Apple peels, orange rinds, lemon peels and nearly any other kind of fruity shell can be added to a tea bag to put a tasty twist on any regular cup of Earl Grey.
  • Fruit peels are also great for homemade infusions, with citrus peels making especially tasty DIY flavored honey, vinegar or olive oil. Simply steep the rinds in your liquid of choice, sit back, and let the olive oil, vinegar or honey soak up all that extra fruity flavor.
  • Fight off those notorious brown sugar clumps with the power of vitamin C. Leaving a little lemon peel in with brown sugar will help keep it soft, moist and much more usable.

Sweet on the inside – and sweet on the outside! Fruit truly is the gift that keeps on giving.


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