If you love lemons as much as we do, then next time you eat or squeeze a lemon or lime, save the peels and give them a second life. Although there are many more uses for you to discover, here are my 15 favorite ways to put them to work and save some money and reduce waste.
1. Flavor Your Dishes With Lemon Zest Or Twists
Lemon zest or twists (long, thin strips) can be used to add a delicious and refreshing flavor to many of your dishes such as salads, marinades, or baked goods. Lemon zest or twists are also great to give an extra kick to your tea. You can even freeze or dry them for later use. To dry the zest or twists, spread the grated zest on a clean towel and leave at room temperature until dry. When dry, store in an airtight container away from direct sunlight.
2. Lemon Infused Olive Oil
Add a lemony flavor to your olive oil by infusing 1 cup of olive oil with 2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon zest. Allow the mixture to set for 2 weeks and shake regularly. Strain the oil and use as you would use normal olive oil.
3. Lemon Extract
Making your own lemon extract is super easy, but it takes some time. Add the zest of 2 to 3 lemons or limes to ½ cup of vodka. Make sure the peel is completely covered. Seal the jar and let sit in a dark place for 4 to 8 weeks. The longer you wait the better it gets. Shake the mixture twice a week to infuse the flavors. After 4 to 8 weeks, strain the liquid and pour in a clean jar or bottle. Lemon extract can be stored for years.
4. Lemon Sugar
Instead of adding lemon zest to your baked goods you could try and make lemon sugar instead. The only thing you need to do is zest one large lemon into 2 cups of sugar. Stir well and spread on a baking sheet and let sit at room temperature until dry (at least 1hour).
5. Lemon Ice Cubes
Give your water and other drinks an extra lemon boost by freezing lemon twists or zest into ice cubes. It looks great for summer parties and tastes delicious.
6. Homemade Vitamin C Powder
Cut the peels in small squares and place them on a clean towel or cloth. Put them in full sunlight by the window for a few days. Once the peels are dried, add them to a coffee grinder or food processor to turn them into powder. We often add one teaspoon to our morning smoothie to boost our vitamin C levels and strengthen our immune system.
7. All-Purpose Lemon Vinegar Cleaner
Fill a quart size mason jar with your cut up lemon peels. Add vinegar to cover the peels and put on the lid. Let sit for 2 weeks, shake daily. After 2 weeks, strain the peels from the vinegar and dilute with water (1:1 ratio). Pour the vinegar in a clean spray bottle and use as you would use any other all-purpose cleaner.
8. Sanitize Cutting Boards
Lemons have antibacterial properties and work great to clean and refresh your cutting boards. Simply rub the surface with a halved and juiced lemon. Let sit for a few minutes and rinse with water.
9. Microwave Cleaner
Throw some lemon peels in a microwavable bowl and fill it halfway with water. Heat the water on full power for 5 minutes. The steam will stick to the inside and you can easily wipe residues with a towel afterwards.
10. Trash Can Refresher
Especially during hot summer months, bad odors can come from your trash can. Keep your trash can refreshed and odor-free by throwing in some leftover lemon peels.
11. Get Rid Of Ants
Lemons work great to repel ants. Simply place lemon peels by your window, door, or cracks where ants can enter your home. You could also add dried peels to your sugar to make it less interesting for ants.
12. Drawer Sachets
Dry lemon peels in the sun or dehydrator. Place them in fabric sachets to freshen your drawers. You could also add other citrus peels or dried herbs or spices to make your own personal scent.
13. Brighten And Soften Your Skin With A Lemon Scrub
Mix ½ cup of sugar, sea salt or coffee grounds (coffee grounds work great to treat cellulite) with finely chopped lemon peel and almond oil (or any other oil of your liking like jojoba, olive, avocado, or coconut oil) until a paste-like consistency. Wet your body and massage the mixture in circular movements all over your skin. Rinse with water and pat dry.
14. Whiten Nails
Rub a juiced half onto your nails to whiten them.
15. Foot Soak For Tired Feet
Boil lemon rinds for 5 minutes, cool completely and strain the liquid from the rinds. Mix the liquid with ¼ cup almond or cow milk, 2 tablespoons olive or coconut oil, and a few drops of lemon essential oil or lemon extract (see number 3). Soak for 20 minutes, pat dry and moisturize for soft and refreshed feet.
A Few Things You Should Know
Make sure to only grate or zest the yellow skin, do not include the white pith, it has a very bitter taste.
And always opt for organic lemons or limes when you are going to use them in your food to avoid pesticides and other questionable chemicals.
If you are not already drinking lemon water every morning then click here to read my previous article: 15 Reasons You Should Be Drinking Lemon Water Every Morning.
And soon you’ll have lots of leftover lemon peels to put these amazing uses to the test.