How to Use Leftover Citrus Peels

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Citrus Fruit

When life gives you lemons save the peels! Right now I am on a mission to reduce my family’s food waste. I have heard mixed opinions on whether or not you should include citrus peels in your compost. Some say that they will make your compost too acidic in addition to taking a really long time to decompose. To be on the safe side I have found various other ways to use our leftover citrus peels.

We always seem to have a lot of citrus peels. Tom likes to eat grapefruit in the morning and we usually eat a bag of Cuties a week. Additionally, I am always buying limes and lemons to use in recipes.

If like me you find yourself with a surplus of citrus peels, here are a few ways to put them to good use.

Citrus Peel Uses



Consider using organic citrus fruits to avoid pesticides. Also, scrub your citrus fruit well to remove any wax coating.

  • Candied Peels: Make candied citrus peels that make a delicious snack or a pretty garnish. Boil your peels in simple syrup and store them in the fridge for up to a month.
  • Tea: Dry your peels to add to your favorite tea. Remove as much of the bitter pith as possible and leave the peels in a single layer on a plate or drying rack for a few days. If you’re in a hurry, you can also dry them in a 200°F oven until completely dry. Store your dried peels in an airtight jar away from direct sunlight.
  • Braising Liquid: The citrus flavor helps to enhance meat dishes. Add them to your braising liquid or even stuff them inside of the cavity of a whole chicken.
  • Alcohol Infusion: Remove as much of the bitter pith as possible and steep citrus peels in your favorite liquor for anywhere from a few days to a month to create your own flavored liquor. The alcohol should prevent any mold or other bacteria from growing.
  • Olive Oil Infusion: Steep citrus peels in your favorite olive oil to create your own flavored olive oil.
  • Brown Sugar Softener: Place a piece of any citrus peel into a container of brown sugar to keep the sugar from getting hard.
  • Citrus Butter: Mix citrus zest and your favorite herbs with butter to make a delicious spread for meat, vegetables, and bread.
  • Frozen Zest and Juice: You can store any excess zest or juice in the freezer so you always have some when you need it.
  • Citrus Powder: Make your own citrus powder to use as a natural vitamin C supplement. The citrus powder can be added to drinks, desserts, jams, and stocks.

Household uses

  • Fire Starter: Dried citrus peels make a great fire starter.
  • Fireplace: Throw a few peels in the fire to create a fragrant fire. If you are outside, burning citrus peels will also help to repel mosquitos. For the best results allow the peels to dry for a few days before using them.
  • Natural Cleaner: Citrus peels make a great DIY natural cleaner. Steep them in vinegar for two weeks and then create a 50/50 mix of the citrus vinegar and water. This cleaner is a great degreaser, disinfectant, and smells great.
  • Garbage Disposal Cleaner: Freeze citrus peels in ice cube trays with water or vinegar and run them through your garbage disposal anytime it starts to smell.
  • Sponge: Use citrus peels to disinfect your cutting board, counter, and sink.
  • Microwave Cleaner: Heat a bowl of water and citrus peels in your microwave for five minutes to loosen any caked-on gunk.
  • Air Freshener: Boil citrus peels in water to give your house a fresh citrusy scent.
Mixed Citrus Fruit


  • Bath Soak: Toss a few citrus peels into your next bath
  • Foot Bath: Citrus will also help to exfoliate your feet.
  • Nail Whitener: Rub citrus peels over your nails to clean and help whiten them.

What are some of your favorite uses for citrus peels?

For more information on how to use food scraps see my post on Food Waste: Using Food Scraps and Leftovers.

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