Wednesday, December 25, 2013

So many uses for Lemon Peels

Save those lemon peels! So many uses!

Eat the lemon peel.

Did you know that lemon peels are nutritional power houses? Seriously?

Lemon Peels contain a spectrum of vitamins, minerals and fiber (things like calcium, potassium, and vitamin C) that can give your menu a nutritional boost. And even though you would have to consume large amounts of peel to glean significant nutritional benefits, it doesn’t hurt to throw in some peel when you can.

Remember, organic will be your best best when consuming the peel to avoid eating any pesticides.

1. Lemon Zest
Lemon zest is a common ingredient in both sweet and savory dishes. Zest some of your peel, use some now or freeze it for later. (Check out my favorite tool to get my zest.)

2. Lemon Pepper
One of my favorite seasonings, and easy to make.

Homemade Lemon Pepper Seasoning

7 large lemons
1/3 cup {scant} of crushed pepper corns {black and/or medley}
1/4 cup kosher salt


Zest all the lemons and mix with crushed peppercorns.
Spread out on parchment lined baking sheet and bake on lowest setting until the zest is completely dried.
(Or you can use a dehydrator)
Add the lemon-pepper to a spice grinder and grind until desired texture.
Mix with the kosher salt if desired and store in a airtight container for up to a few months.

3. Candied Lemon Peel

4 large, firm, organic lemons, ends trimmed
2 cups sugar
2 cups water

01. To peel the lemons, slice off both ends. Insert a very sharp, small knife between the peel and the membrane that hugs the flesh, about ¼-inch deep, and work the knife all the way around the end of the lemon. Repeat on the other end.
02. Make 4 equally spaced, ¼-inch deep, lengthwise slices through the peel. With the fingernail of your thumb and the help of your forefinger, pry each section of peel off the lemon, ideally leaving the membrane with the flesh of the lemon. (Reserve lemons for another use.)
03. Cut each quarter piece of lemon peel lengthwise into 2-4 strips.
04. Lay each strip peel-side down on a cutting board and with a very sharp, small knife sliver off as much of the pith as you can. Don’t worry about getting it all, however. You want some depth to the peel.
05. In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a simmer.
06. To blanch the lemon peel and rid it of most of the bitterness in the pith, add the peel to the simmering water in the saucepan, simmer for 2 minutes and drain into a colander.
07. Repeat twice more, using fresh cold water each time.
08. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and water and slowly bring to a simmer, whisking frequently. The sugar syrup should clear before the syrup reaches a simmer. If it doesn’t clear, lower the heat to beneath a simmer and continue whisking until the syrup is clear. Then bring back to a simmer.
09. Add the triple blanched lemon peels to the sugar syrup and simmer gently for about 1 hour, until the peel is translucent and tender.
10. To test, lift a piece of peel from the syrup, let it cool slightly and then sample. If you can easily bite through the peel, it’s done. If not, continue simmering until the peel in fully tender. If the syrup becomes too thick, add additional water.
11. When the peel is tender, remove from the heat.
12. With a fork or small tongs, gently remove each piece of peel from the syrup and lay on a wire rack set on an edged baking sheet. Let cool completely and then dry for several hours.
13. A few pieces at a time, toss the peel in sugar to coat and set on a clean wire rack to dry.
14. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for several days or in the refrigerator for several weeks.


Candied Orange Peel

Use 2 large oranges instead of the lemons.

Candied Grapefruit Peel

Use 1 large grapefruit instead of the lemons.

Candied Lime Peel

Use large limes instead of the lemons.

4. Lemon oil infusions, Lemon Sugar Scrub, & Other great recipes

How To Make A Lemon-Oil Infusion

This basic oil infusion is so versatile you might just find yourself keeping a stash in the kitchen, bathroom AND living room! Unlike lemon essential oil, the flavor is very mild and blends well with herbs and spices. More on how to use it soon, but first here’s the “how to”!


    Lemon peels, preferably organic
    Minimally processed olive or coconut oil* (where to find high quality oils)
    Optional flavorings if you’re making an oil to cook with: garlic and/or fresh herbs

*Olive oil is not recommended for the hot process due to oxidation. Though some olive oils can withstand heat, it’s because they have been intensively refined and no longer contain the micro-nutrients that make olive oil so good for us.
Hot Process Method (Super Quick)

    Wash and dry lemons
    Using a vegetable peeler, cut thin slivers of the yellow skin in long ribbons. (Or if you have a zester, use that!) Make sure not to peel off the bitter white pith, just the outside will do.
    Place the peels in a small pot and pour in coconut oil until they’re just barely covered. Bring oil to a very light simmer for about 5 minutes, then set aside for a few hours to allow the oils to continue to meld.
    Strain peels and pour oil into a jar. Store in a dark cabinet or the fridge.

Cold Process Method For Coconut Oil

Because this method does not use heat the enzymes and micronutrients are better preserved.

    Wash and dry lemons.
    Using a vegetable peeler, cut thin slivers of the yellow skin in long ribbons. (Or if you have a zester, use that!) Make sure not to peel off the bitter white pith, just the outside will do.
    Pack peels tightly in a jar, then pour in just enough coconut oil to cover.
    Place in a sunny window for 1-2 weeks, shaking every day.
    Strain peels and pour oil into a jar. Store in a dark cabinet or the fridge.

Cold Process Method For Olive Oil

I prefer an olive oil infusion for salads, but because it’s so vulnerable to oxidation via sunlight I let mine “steep” longer in a dark cabinet to attains its distinct flavor. Like the cold process coconut oil version, this method preserves enzymes and micronutrients

    Wash and dry lemons.
    Using a vegetable peeler, cut thin slivers of the yellow skin in long ribbons. (Or if you have a zester, use that!) Make sure not to peel off the bitter white pith, just the outside will do.
    Pack peels snugly in a jar, then pour in just enough olive oil to cover.
    Seal tightly and place in a dark cabinet for 1-2 months, shaking every few days.
    Strain peels and pour oil into a jar. Store in a dark cabinet or the fridge.

How To Use Your Lemon Oil Infusion

Skin Brightening Scrub

The alpha-hydroxy acids contained in lemon peels possess astringent and skin brightening qualities, making it a great base for this scrub!

When deciding whether to use unrefined sea salt or epsom salt for this recipe keep in mind that both are fabulous detoxifiers with unique benefits. Sea salt infuses trace minerals, helps restore moisture balance in the skin, and possesses potent anti-microbial qualities that have been found helpful for acne.

Epsom salts, on the other hand, mostly contain magnesium, a mineral which it thought to improve sleep quality, prevent morning sickness in many cases, and is often used to treat migraines and depression. Use whichever you happen to have on hand, or mix them together!

Note: If you have acne be very careful not to tear the skin while gently using this scrub!


    2/3 cup unrefined sea salt or epsom salt/magnesium flakes, finely ground (where to find unrefined sea salt, where to buy magnesium flakes)
    1/3 cup your lemon-infused oil
    A few drops of essential oil if desired


    If you’re using coarse ground sea salt or epsom salt, run it through a food processor or coffee maker until the granules are very fine (you don’t want to tear delicate skin).
    Mix all ingredients in a clean jar and store in a cool, dry place.

To Use:

    Step into the bath or shower, but before you turn the shower on spoon a little of the mixture onto a washcloth, exfoliating mitt or your hands.
    Scrub all over in a circular motion, then rinse!
    Pat skin dry and follow with moisturizer if desired (like this one, this one, or THIS one!)

As A Furniture Polish

Want to restore luster to wood furniture? It’s easy! Just dab lemon oil on a cloth, rub on, and buff with a clean cloth! (Note: This polish may not be suitable for every type of wood finish. I haven’t had a problem with the furniture in my house but I recommend doing a test spot in an obscure area before applying
In The Kitchen

Drizzled over a bed of fresh greens with 3 minced garlic cloves, 1/3 cup chopped fresh thyme, 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary and a pinch of red pepper flakes (assuming with you start with 1/c cup lemon oil, of course!)

5. Lemon Olive Oil

1 cup extra virgin olive oil or 1 cup olive oil or 1 cup grapeseed oil or 1 cup other vegetable oil
2 -3 tablespoons lemon zest, finely grated


1. Place the oil and the zest in a glass jar. Let it stand at room temperature for at least 2 weeks, shaking occasionally.
2. Pour the oil through a strainer and discard the zest. Transfer to a jar and store, tightly covered, in refrigerator. Enjoy!

Yield: 1 cup.

6. Lemon Extract
Sometimes I’m amazed at the things I never realized you could make yourself. Like this lemon extract.

Combine the zest from 2 lemons, 1 teaspoon sugar and  ½ cup 80 proof (40% alcohol by weight) vodka.  Don’t use the pith (white part) of the lemon- just stick to the yellow – as the pitch is bitter. I make this in a pint mason jar and double the recipe. I also usually double the amount of lemon zest.

7. Lemon twists and ice cubes!
Brighten your drinks by putting twists of the peel into ice cubes. Perfect for summer parties. Use a vegetable peeler or knife to make long strips, cutting away from the white pith which can be quite bitter. Again, these can be frozen.

8. Herb-Lemon Zest Butter
Another “what more do I need to say,” right?


1/4 cup mixed herbs, such as flat-leaf parlsey, chervil, tarragon, and chives, chopped
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1. Put herbs on a work surface. Add butter and lemon zest. Finely chop together until well combined. Season with salt.
2. Transfer to a sheet of parchment paper, placing on edge closest to you. Fold paper over and roll into a cylinder, twisting the ends; wrap airtight in foil. Chill until solid.
DO AHEAD: Butter will keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 3 months.

9. Keep brown sugar soft
Adding some lemon peel (with traces of pulp and pith removed) to your brown sugar can help keep it moist and easy to use.
Clean with the lemon peel.

10. Lemon AP Cleaner
Also known as lemon vinegar, this stuff is awesome at cutting grease and disinfecting. To make, simply place a bunch of lemon peels in any sized glass jar (mason jars would work great). Pour white vinegar over. Put the lid on and let it sit for 2 weeks (I promise, it’s worth the wait). Then strain the liquid. Combine this with water (using a 50/50 ratio) and then use as you would your normal all purpose cleaner.

11. Get rid of ants and pests
Place small slices of lemon peel along thresholds, windowsills, door entrances, or near  cracks or holes where ants or pests are lurking about. I haven’t tried this one yet (living on the third floor does have some advantages… no big ant problem where I live), but apparently ants do not like lemon and will not enter your home. Lemons are also effective against roaches and fleas.

12. Freshen your Fridge
Place a lemon peel or two inside your fridge to absorb smells and bring a bright citrus scent.

13. Trash Can Deodorizer
Throw a few lemon peels in the bottom of the can. This will also help absorb odors and keep things smelling fresh.

14. Simmering Stove Top Scents
This idea has been floating around pinterest for some time, and with good reason. You’ll make your house smell heavenly simply by adding lemon peels to simmering water. Throw in some cloves, cinnamon sticks, and orange peels. This adds a wonderful scent and humidifies the air.

15. Clean your tea kettle or coffee pot.
To clean mineral deposits in your tea kettle: Fill the kettle with water and add a handful of thin slices of lemon peel. Bring it to a boil then turn off the heat. Let is sit for an hour, drain, and rinse well.

To clean your coffee pot: Simply add your lemon peels with some ice and salt. Whirl everything around a minute or two and the dump and rinse.

16. Sanitize your cutting board.
Lemon’s natural acidity provides great antibacterial properties to home cleaning. After properly cleaning your cutting boards, rub the surface with half a lemon. Let it sit for a couple of minutes before rinsing.

17. Freshen and deodorize the dishwasher.
Add lemon peels to your dishwasher every now and then to help rinse and deodorize it.

18. Clean your microwave.
We don’t use our microwave much, but I wish I knew this secret back when I did! Add lemon rinds to a microwave-safe bowl filled halfway with water. Cook on high for five minutes, allowing the water to boil and the steam to condense on the walls and tops of the oven. Remove the hot bowl (carefully!) and wipe away the mess with a towel. Yes.

19. Deodorize the garbage disposal.
Use lemon peels to deodorize the garbage disposal and bring that amazing citrus smell to your kitchen. Fake lemon cleaners have nothing on the real thing. Simply put a peel or two down the disposal, flip the switch on (with the water running), and done.

20. Firelighters
Bake discarded lemon peels until they darken. These create natural, fragrant firelighters. So cool, and just in time for grilling season!

21. Make drawer sachets.
Dry your lemon peels (either out in the sun or in a dehydrator) and place them inside of fabric sachets. Add spices, as desired such as cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and cardamom. Place in drawers to freshen.

22. Clean your stainless steel, polish your chrome, and make your copper shine!
This one was my favorite as we’ve had some nasty residue on our steak knives that I’ve been trying to get off for a while. Simply sprinkle some sea salt on the metal, and then use the lemon peel to scrub away any dirt, grime, or stains. Rinse and polish!

Don't throw your lemon peels away! Here are 31 ways to use them.
Beautify and heal with the lemon peel.

23. Skin Brightening Scrub
This will really perk your skin up.

Whenever you use an orange, lemon, lime, or grapefruit, save the peel, which contains skin-rejuvenating essential oils. Citrus does double duty: The acid in the oil helps loosen the dead top layer of skin, and the ground-up peels slough it off. (Using lemon peel really works best at lightening)

1 tablespoon dried citrus peel, chopped and finely ground in a food processor
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon pure honey
1/4 cup vitamin E oil
2 tablespoons cornmeal

Mix the ingredients until well blended and massage on a damp face. Rinse well with warm water and finish with a splash of cold. Though the scrub's nicest when used fresh, you can store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to a week.

24. Nail Whitener
Whiten fingernails by rubbing with a lemon wedge.

25. Travel Sickness Cure
Suck on a slice of lemon to help you stop feeling nauseous.

26. Lighten age spots.
Many folk remedies suggest using lemon peel to help lighten age spots. Apply a small piece to the affected area and leave on for an hour. (I’d avoid too much sun exposure while it’s on your face.)

27. Soften dry elbows.
Use a half lemon sprinkled with baking soda on elbows; just place your elbow in the lemon and twist the lemon (as if you are juicing it) for several minutes. Rinse and dry.

28. Use as a skin tonic.
Lemon peels can be very lightly rubbed on your face for a nice skin tonic; then rinse (be careful around your eyes).

29. Make a sugar scrub.
Mix 1/2 a cup of sugar with finely chopped lemon peel and enough olive oil to make a paste. Wet your body in the shower, turn off the water, and massage the sugar mix all over your skin. Rinse off and bask in your smooth skin.

30. Make a scented humidifier.
If your home suffers from dry heat in the winter, you can put lemon peels in a pot of water and simmer on the lowest stove-top setting to humidify and scent the air.

31. Make a foot soak.
Boil citrus rinds for several minutes. Allow to cool completely and strain. Add ¼ cup cow or almond milk, 2 tablespoons of cold pressed olive oil and a couple of drops of lemon essential oil. Soak feet for about 20 minutes and then pat dry to moisturize and soften feet.