Skip to content

The appeal of peels

After using a vegetable peeler, don’t throw the peels, skins and stalks of produce away! Turns out, there are many valuable nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in those “throw-away” parts of produce. Use organic when possible and scrub well, whether organic or not. By consuming them in some way or using them to make a natural cleaner, there are many ways to make peels more appealing.

Citrus zest from the peels of oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes contains an anti-oxidant called limonene. Research is showing having zest regularly may lower the risk of developing certain kinds of skin cancer. Zest citrus over salads, fish, chicken or tofu. Add zest to salad dressing or into baked goods.

Citrus peels can be used all around the house. Clean out the mineral deposits in a tea kettle by boiling lemon peels and water. Orange peels soaked in vinegar make a cleaning or bug spray. Orange “cups” can be used as a bowl for serving dessert, as a seedling cup or even to make a candle.

Boil the skin and core of a pineapple to make a tea that contains bromeliad, a powerful enzyme that helps with digestion and fights pain and inflammation. Pineapple bark also has a high amount of vitamin C and magnesium that help boost immunity.

Carrot peels account for only 11 percent of a fresh carrot’s weight, but provide 54% of its natural antioxidants. Use a vegetable peeler to make ribbons to put over salad or mix into a coleslaw. Carrot peels can be tossed into a smoothie or used in a soup that is blended.

Potato skins are good sources of phenolic acids which are anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. No need to peel potatoes before making mashed potatoes or any type of potato dish. If peeling is a must, then make potato crisps with the skins by baking them with olive oil and lemon juice; this works well with sweet potato and carrot peelings too.

Apple peels can be made into crisps as well with a little butter and cinnamon. Steeped in boiling water, along with a cinnamon stick and honey, apple peels make a soothing tea. Chopped apple (or carrot or sweet potato) peels can be added to pancakes, waffles and muffins.

If not using peels right away, create bags for the freezer, ready to toss into stocks, smoothies and pestos. A vegetable stock bag might contain onion and carrot tops, celery bits and herbs. A smoothie bag could contain fruit offcuts, carrots and zucchini. A pesto bag could include stems, stalks and excess leaves from kale, beets, greens and herbs.

Last but not least, the insides of banana peels help keep houseplants healthy and shiny looking and work as a natural fertilizer and pesticide.

Article and photo by Lisa Nicklanovich




Recent Stories