Oranges have long been promoted as a health food. Their vibrant color and fresh, citrusy scent belie a wide range of healthy constituents, the most famous of which is vitamin C. First, oranges taste sweet and delicious. They can also be used in a wide range of culinary applications. Plus, they add color and life to your fruit bowl or kitchen table. For this reason, few people would think twice about picking up a bag of oranges next time they pop down to the supermarket.
But despite their popularity, there’s a whole lot of wasting going on with regards to these sweet little numbers. It turns out that orange peels are surprisingly useful. They can be utilized for a wide range of applications — both for your health and your household. So before you make a move to throw your next orange peel in the trash, take a read through this article. It may just make you think twice about consigning it to the garbage.
1. Eat the orange peels
If you’re itching to try your hand at more advanced cooking applications, orange peels are a great way to start. Using a fine grater to zest your orange peels adds an amazing tangy, slightly bitter addition to any dish. Orange zest is particularly delicious in baked goods, sprinkled over a fresh salad, mixed into a nut ensemble or simply sprinkled over your favorite yogurt. What’s more, much of the nutrients from that orange are actually concentrated in the skin. This makes orange peels the most nutritious part of the fruit.
Other edible uses for your orange peel include soaking them in olive oil, along with a few cranberries, for two to three weeks to make a unique salad dressing. To make a delicious, revitalizing tea, steep your orange peel in some boiling water for five to ten minutes, strain out the peel and sip to your heart’s content! However, because many orange growers use harsh chemicals and sprays to ensure their oranges remain blemish-free, I would strongly recommend only using the peels from washed, organic oranges.
2. Keep your brown sugar from caking
Ever go to bake something, take out your brown sugar from the dark recesses of your kitchen cupboard and discover that it’s gone rock solid? It’s a common enough occurrence and one which is easily solved. Place orange peels in the container along with your brown sugar! The peels will help to keep your brown sugar from drying out. That means it won’t be one giant lump next time you decide to bake some apple crumble.
3. Lower your blood pressure
Orange peels are loaded with hesperidin, a flavonoid that has been shown to regulate high blood pressure and lower cholesterol.
4. Clean stainless steel
Rather than turning to toxic, chemical-laden cleaners to make your stainless steel surfaces look shiny and new again, look no further than the humble orange peel! Using a freshly peeled orange skin, saturate the peel with some water and use it as you would a sponge or dishcloth to wipe the surface of your stainless steel kitchenware, sink or appliance. The citrus oils in the orange peel will remove any accumulated grime and add a shine to the steel, along with a pleasant aroma.
5. Deodorize your fridge
The same citrus oils in orange peels that enable you to buff up your stainless steel can also help you to keep your fridge from getting stinky! Cut an orange in half and eat the flesh. Then, fill one of the orange peel halves with salt and place it in a small bowl or plate. Leave your DIY deodorizer in the fridge for a couple of weeks, then repeat the process.
6. Use them as kindling
Believe it or not, those orange peels can even help you to start a fire! After peeling, allow your orange skins to dry out in the sun for a few days. Then next time you light a fire, use the orange peels to start the fire instead of kindling. The oils in your peels help them to catch fire easily. They will even remove any creosote buildup in your fireplace.
7. Nourish your skin
Because orange peels contain so many beneficial oils and nutrients, they make a great natural skin cosmetic alternative. Rubbing orange peels in gauze on your skin while showering can help to increase the clarity and brightness of your skin. Squeezing out the natural oils from the peel into a hot bath will make for a gloriously aromatic bathing session that also nourishes your skin. The therapeutic compounds in your humble orange peel will also help to remove excess oil buildup from your skin and simultaneously remove dead skin cells. Needless to say, oranges and your skin are good friends.
8. Shampoo and condition your hair
Orange peels contain a range of natural compounds and volatile oils that make it an effective natural shampoo and conditioner. These compounds will help to balance and support your hairs natural oils, remove any unnecessary buildups and moisturize your hair. Orange peels can also help you to control dandruff.
To make your own DIY orange peel shampoo/conditioner, grind a whole organic orange peel with a mortar and pestle. Next, move it into a small bowl and cover with water. Leave the mixture overnight. Then, work it into your hair as you wash it in the morning. Your hair will feel good and smell even better!
9. Repel bugs
I always make a point of avoiding conventional bug repellents, even if the mosquitos are absolutely ravenous and eating me alive. It simply isn’t worth it — I’d rather have a few itchy bites around my ankles than rub that heady concoction of cancerous chemicals on my skin.
But there is a natural alternative that’s reportedly quite effective. Simply rubbing orange peel all across any patches of exposed skin can leave a trace of the citrus oils, which acts as a natural deterrent to mosquitoes and other biting bugs. Either way, you’ve really got nothing to lose, as those peels are so darn nourishing for your skin.
10. Destinkify your shoes
Do you or someone you love have stinky shoes? Fight back against the stench with the power or orange oil! Simply peel an orange and place the inside of the orange skin facing downwards inside the shoe. The peel will absorb moisture and add a pleasant, refreshingly citrus scent to the offending pair.
11. Use them as candles
If you were hoping for a romantic night in but just realized that you’re all out of candles, have no fear! Orange peels are here. Simply cut and orange in half, remove the flesh from the inside (perhaps feed it sensuously to your significant other?) and fill with olive oil. Position some of the pith from the inside of the skin to form a natural wick and light her up! It’s easy, effective, smells amazing and doesn’t have all the nasty parabens and artificial chemicals that conventional candles do. Plus, it just looks cool!
12. Make great compost
Even if you can’t actually be bothered doing anything constructive with your orange peels, there’s still something useful you can utilize them for that requires almost zero effort. Orange peels contain plenty of nitrogen and other plant growth-supporting nutrients, making them an excellent composting material. Simply place them in your compost pile and let their nutrients leach into the soil. Or, cut them up small and mix them into your soil directly in the garden. And remember — organic is always better!
13. Treat bad breath
The concept of slowly chewing on a lump of orange peel as if it was chewing gum seems a bit strange at first. However, the idea grows on you when you think about all the nasty ingredients in chewing gum and conventional mouth fresheners. Orange peel makes a healthy, effective alternative to these atrocious treatments for bad breath. Chewing on a piece of fresh, organic orange peel can not only keep your breath smelling fresh, it also may prevent the formation of cavities. Goodbye, chewing gum. Hello, orange peel!
14. Make an air freshener
Just as the skin of an orange can freshen your mouth, it can also freshen your house! Here at The Alternative Daily, we’re not huge fans of conventional air fresheners, on account of all the chemicals they distribute throughout your home and into your air passages. An excellent, toxin-free alternative is simply to place some orange peels in a pot of water, place on the stove and leave it to simmer for as long as you like. In addition to making a great DIY humidifier, this also helps to remove bad odors and distribute a wonderful citrus scent throughout the house.
Is there anything about orange peels that I missed out? What do you use your orange peels for?
— Liivi Hess