Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Making use of orange peels

I hate wasting anything. We compost, use cloth napkins, recycle everything we can, make use of items that most people throw away. Since this is the season for citrus (and we eat produce somewhat in season), clementines make a daily appearance at our breakfast table. In the past I have always composted the peels, making use of them for next year's garden rather than adding to our garbage costs by throwing them away. That's good, but I really wanted to use them in another way before composting. But I wanted the perks without the work of carefully separating the peel from the bitter pith or handing my family a dozen peeled clemies to eat all in one day. Something that would make use of the peels without adding hardly any time or effort to my routine. This year I found use for them as an all-purpose cleaner which works really well and smells nicer than the plain vinegar-water I ordinarily use.
Each morning when my family peeled their clementines they put the peels in a mason jar instead of the normal compost bucket. After breakfast I added enough ordinary white vinegar to the jar to cover the peels. When the jar was filled, I placed it back in the cupboard and left it for a few weeks, shaking it occasionally to make sure the peels stayed covered by the vinegar. About three weeks later I strained out the peels (adding them finally to the compost!) and mixed the orange oil vinegar 50-50 with water in my all-purpose cleaner spray bottle. I have a couple more cups leftover for when we use up what's in the spray bottle, or to mix with water to wash our floors. (Ants hate vinegar. I've never had them enter my kitchen when I've used vinegar-water to clean. I'm assuming the orange oil will smell nice without failing to deter them, although I haven't tried it yet.)
You can see the contrast in this picture between orange peels freshly covered this morning and the rest of the orange-infused vinegar in my first batch. The final product looks orange rather than clear and has an oily feel to it. It no longer has the sharp vinegar smell to it, but rather smells like orange. I don't mind the smell of vinegar as I clean with it and I don't find the smell ever lingers after the vinegar dries. But for those who do mind the smell as they're cleaning, this would be a great all-natural alternative.
Linked with Fellowship Friday, Modest Monday, Works for Me Wednesday, Teach Me Tuesday


  1. I hate throwing out citrus peels, because I know they have lots of great essential oils in them! We just got a big bag of clementines, so I think I'm going to try this! You can also put them down a garbage disposal to clean and de-odorize the yucky drain gunk.

    Found you at CMB's linkup. Have a great weekend!

    1. They do help the garbage disposal too! Thank you for visiting!

  2. we are eating post-Christmas clementines and I'm going to set a jar out for everyone's peels. Thank you!

  3. Ah, a woman after my own heart. I have a mission to recycle 80% of what we use to throw away.

    If you're interested in sharing more tips, tricks and ideas, I host a homesteading blog hop every Friday. You can enter as late as the following Thursday, so you still have time to join in on this one. Hope to see you there!