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Natural Awakenings

A-Peeling Reuse: Practical Recycling Tips for Fruit and Veggie

Feb 28, 2011 05:45PM

“A rind is a terrible thing to waste,” says Jeff Yeager, who refers to himself as the ultimate cheapskate. Yeager has discovered multiple uses for produce rinds and ways to extract extended benefits before they land in the compost pile. Here are a few of his favorites, shared with us during a recent interview:

  • Jam – Incorporate the skins from a wide variety of fruits—oranges, lemons, grapefruit, limes, tangerines and even kumquats—in easy-to-make marmalades.
  • Cornhusks – Wrap fish and other seafood in fresh, dampened, sweet corn husks to grill and serve in the husks.
  • Olive oil infusions – Add citrus peels to olive oil for flavor and to reinvigorate oil that’s getting old.
  • Savory chicken – Stuff all kinds of fruit and veggie peels inside a free-range chicken before roasting to give it extra flavor. Trimmings from onions, celery, citrus, apples, garlic, etc., can be stuffed in the chicken cavity or sprinkled around the roasting pan. Once baked, the trimmings break down faster in the compost pile.
  • Easter egg dye – Boil organic Easter eggs with onionskins to naturally create wild yellow and orange eggshells.
  • Foot rub – Rub papaya skins and pulp on the bottoms of the feet to help soften and soothe skin, particularly on the heels. They’re rich in vitamin A and papain, which breaks down inactive proteins and removes dead skin cells.
  • Hair dye – Boil potato peels in water for about a half-hour, strain and let cool. Rinsing hair with this water after shampooing will gradually darken grey hair without any synthetic chemicals.
  • Potpourri – Dry all types of citrus rinds, apple peels, pomegranate skins and other fruit trimmings on a rack or in a food dehydrator to make homemade potpourri. Sprinkle on a little essential oil for more aroma, if desired.
  • Air freshener – Boil lemon rinds in water on the stovetop, microwave them for a minute, or just throw them in the garbage disposal, in order to freshen the air in the kitchen. Also place a couple in the humidifier to make the whole house smell lemony-fresh.
  • Shoeshine – Put a “split-shine” on leather shoes by polishing them with the slippery side of a banana peel.
  • Metal polish – Lemon, lime and other citrus rinds and pulp/juice are high in citric acid, which makes them great for polishing brass, copper and other non-ferrous metals. Sprinkle on a little baking soda to hasten polishing (ketchup works, too).
  • Seedling pots – Scooped-out avocado shells make perfect biodegradable pots to start garden seedlings.
  • Pest control – Sprinkle ground-up nutshells around tender garden plants to keep slugs and other pests away; they can’t stand crawling across the rough texture (crushed eggshells also work).
  • Houseplant help – Use banana peels to shine the leaves on houseplants to make them sparkle; this also serves as a natural pesticide and fertilizer.

Note: Always thoroughly wash the rinds of produce that will be eaten or come into contact with food, even if it is organically grown.

Jeff Yeager is the author of
The Cheapskate Next Door and The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Road Map to True Riches. Connect at

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