3 things to do with citrus peels

Waste not, want not! Our  recent post on Candied Grapefruit Peel yielded some interesting comments, and at the same time Erik made a discovery about citrus. Thus, three things to to do with your rinds:

Idea #1
Readers Terry and Barb both commented that they soak citrus peel in vinegar to make citrus infused vinegar to use for cleaning, and in Barb’s case, as a deodorant. This is an excellent idea. Infusing vinegar with cleansing/disinfecting herbs, like lavender or sage, is something I’ve known about for a long time, but don’t do, in practice. I’m too lazy. Instead, I scent my cleaning vinegar with essential oil. But we always have citrus peels laying around in piles, and the simplicity of the citrus idea is so a peeling that I had to try it. (ouch! stop throwing things!)

I filled one jar with orange peels and covered it with vinegar. After only a couple of days it started smelling really nice. Now it’s about a week old and doesn’t seem to be getting any more potent, so   I’m going to strain it off. In a second jar I’m trying an experimental blend of orange and thyme. Like citrus, thyme has excellent disinfectant qualities, but I’m not sure how its scent will blend with the orange.

I suspect our cleaning vinegar is going to smell like citrus from now on out.

UPDATE: I’ve been using orange-peel vinegar for a while now and the only drawback is that it is tinted yellow. If you spray a light surface and forget to wipe afterward, it will leave yellow stains behind. Not true stains–they wipe up easily even if they’re long dry. This isn’t a big problem because generally I am spraying and wiping, but once in a while I’ll find yellow droplets in spot I forgot to wipe.

This, of course, disqualifies this spray for carpet cleaning. (And plain vinegar spray is a great thing to use to clean up pet accidents on carpet.)

Speaking of pet accidents, I realized this first when I found a yellow spray at the base of our bathroom sink and immediately though young Trout had taken to spraying. Cryeth the cat: “O! Unfair! I never did such thing!”

Idea #2
A reader named Chile sent us this link to an old Cuban recipe for candying grapefruit pith. As you know, grapefruit pith can be quite thick. If you have some separate use for the peel or zest, you can cut the leftover pith into cubes and candy it with cinnamon. She says it’s really good!

Idea #3
Erik has learned that you can make pectin out of citrus rinds and membranes. Like apples, citrus is quite rich in pectin. This is a really good use for under-ripe, not so tasty oranges. Here’s a how to link: Wedliny Domowe. The same link also has instructions for making pectin from apples. It’s all about local sourcing, after all. An oddity of living where we do is that it is much easier to come by citrus than apples. At least for now.

On a related note, we also know that you can make clear, citrus flavored jelly by boiling organic citrus rinds in water, then straining off the solids. The resulting liquid is citrus-flavored and pectin-rich. Add sugar and you have citrus flavored jelly. It’s tasty, we’ve tried it. But unfortunately, we don’t have a recipe. If you happen to have a recipe, please share!

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  1. Pack the peels in a jar (just rind and pith, no juicy bits), top with water. Keep in the fridge for a week or so. Strain the water off and spray on aphids.

  2. Orange peels are also a traditional brewing spice, particularly in Belgian styles and I see no reason why other citrus couldn’t be used. A cascade hopped pale ale with grapefruit peel, for example, sounds pretty good to me.

    Just add it near the end of the boil (I usually do 10 minutes for dried orange peel) and/or in primary fermentation.

  3. i love this idea! i am going to have much nicer smelling cleaning supplies from here on out. thank you.

  4. Thank you for this idea! I have resisted using vinegar for cleaning because the smell is too similar to the stench of cat pee on a rug, at least to my nose. I’ll try this and hope the citrus smell covers the vinegar scent. I understand that cats do not like the smell of citrus, so this may work as an inexpensive cat deterrent, as well. Maybe I can cut down on the number of scat mats I’ve got all over our family room.

  5. I haven’t got a recipe for the citrus jelly, but I have made orange peel marmalade, which should work with any citrus peel. I think I’ve made it with tangerine peel in the past.
    I can’t find a recipe online, but I once saw a similar version in a newspaper where the author of recipe said her friends called it ‘How mean can you get’* marmalade. Apparently she collected any peel, including slices of lemon from friend’s G&Ts and stored it in the freezer until she had enough to make marmalade.

    Chop/shred 6oz/175g citrus peel and the peel of 1 lemon. Soak overnight in 2 pints/1.1 litres water.
    Simmer slowly until peel is soft. If necessary make volume of liquid up to 1 1/2 pints/900ml.
    Stir in 2.2lb/1kg granulated sugar and the chopped flesh and any juice from the 1 lemon.
    Bring to the boil once the sugar’s dissolved and boil rapidly for 15 minutes or until it’s ready to set. (It probably won’t have enough pectin in to set solidly).
    Stand for 10 minutes to stop peel rising to the top of the jar, then pot as usual.
    This is a British recipe so we live dangerously and I have no idea how you would process this further. Personally I’m happy there’s enough sugar in there to stop anything sinister growing in it and would just store the jars in a cool dark place without canning, but obviously do whatever makes you feel comfortable.

    *(mean as in tight, overly frugal- not sure if it means
    the same in the US)

    Otherwise I dry orange and lemon peels to use as firelighters with paper, twigs and fir cones. I leave it on my Rayburn until it’s hard but I’ve seen an Australian blog that leaves them in the sun, or put it in a cooling oven.

  6. Simmer your orange peels in water and some cinnamon and cloves on your stove….or woodstove…. or in front of your fireplace. Some people use a crockpot. It will fill the room with a lovely scent.

  7. Do you dry the peels before you soak them? I made vinegar with orange dried orange peels before but the scent was not very strong. It is very dark though.

    • I used them fresh. You know, it might just be about the oil content of the peels themselves. You know how some are extra juicy and fragrant, and others not so much?

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