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Keep your peels

Posted on February 28, 2023 by Sunny South News

By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News

It has become a sort of challenge in my house to find meaningful uses for “scraps” in the kitchen. In addition to learning a lot about alternative ways to use ingredients, the practice has resulted in an overall reduction of household waste and force me to shop smarter.

Over the holiday season, I started to think about how I could put my many mandarin peels to use. I have written about citrus scraps in the past, but the uses and tips were mostly limited to lemons.

I love adding orange zest to sugar for rimmed cocktails or baking. Always wash your fruit really well with warm water and vinegar. Another key when using the zest of citrus fruit is to zest your orange prior to cutting into it. Massage the zest into white granulated sugar or sugar alternative and use to top pastries, bars, or cocktail glasses. Alternatively, make an orange-infused simple syrup by boiling equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan on low with orange peels or zest. This floral and fruity elixir can be incorporated into beverages, added to marinades, or baked goods like pound cakes or loafs.

If you had enough, you can also dry orange zest over night and store in your spice cupboard. You can also blitz  the zest into a fine powder using a spice grinder or add to other spice mixes such as jerk seasoning or use to incorporate into batters or sauces.

I have mentioned stovetop potpourri before, and even one peel goes a long way to make your home smell fresh and cozy. Simply simmer 3-4 cups of water in a medium sauce pan and add some scraps and aromatics. I like to pair orange with cinnamon sticks and cloves. The heat will gently extract the oils from the orange peel and combine with the warm, earthy cloves and cinnamon to fill your home with a naturally-derived scent.

In terms of natural cleaner, vinegar is kind of the main character. It can be used to remove dirt, and grime for surfaces, and is invaluable when cleaning drains, bathrooms, or windows. The smell of pure white vinegar can be a little abrasive. However, the problem is easily solve with citrus. Use a large glass jar and fill with orange peels or other citrus scraps, fill with distilled white vinegar and leave the peels submerged in the liquid for about five to seven days. Remove the peels and strain the solution to remove any debris and store in a cleaning bottle to use as an all-purpose cleaner with a brighter, fresher scent.

There are plenty of innovative and useful ways to use all kinds of cooking scraps, and lots of suggestions and how-to’s online.

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