You’ve just peeled that delicious, juicy orange and are about to toss the peel into the trash can. But before you drop it, think about what else you can do. The number of uses for orange peels just might surprise you.
In the kitchen, orange peels are already well-known. Several recipes call for orange zest, which is the thin upper layer of orange peels, to enhance desserts and other dishes. Garnishes of candied orange peels are made by boiling the peels in sugar water until almost translucent and then dried. Decorative and mildly flavored ice cubes can be made by placing pieces of orange zest in water-filled ice cubes trays and freezing. Orange peels can be placed in containers of brown sugar to keep the sugar moist and easy to use, or dried and put in tea canisters to add a little fragrance and flavor to loose tea or tea bags. Or you can simply throw orange peels in your disposal and turn it on with running water for a few moments to help freshen it.
Around the house, orange peels are popular for air freshening in potpourris along with cinnamon sticks, cloves, and other fragrant items. Dried orange peels wrapped loosely in cheesecloth and placed in closets can help reduce musty odors. Orange peels can also be added to compost heaps. In colder months, dried orange peels can be used as kindling in fireplaces. The oil in the peels is flammable and they burn slower and steadier than common kindling materials like newspaper, as well as scenting the air while they burn. Other unusual uses for orange peels include texture stamps in painting and as part of a harvest necklace in the fall.
There are also uses for orange peels with animals and insects. If you have an ant problem, a puree of orange peels and water put around the places where you find ants entering your house and directly on anthills can be a deterrent. Make a flea repellant for your dog by putting orange peels in water and bringing to a boil, then cooling and pouring over your dog and rubbing into the coat. Convince your neighborhood dogs and cats that your yard is not a litter box by spreading a mixture of dried orange peels and coffee grounds around. The combined smells should override their territorial scent cues.
So before you just toss that orange peel in the trash, stop and consider the alternatives. Don’t just throw it away!