The mighty lemon — and other useful kitchen scraps

Lemon, citrus

Few things in my pantry serve as many purposes as the mighty lemon and its cousins in the citrus family. There is nothing wrong with making compost, but only with kitchen scraps that you can’t use for anything else. I recently wrote about how you eat your food matters. There, I  mentioned that the skins and peels of many fruits and veggies are packed with minerals and vitamins.

Some people believe that any surface that could possibly have pesticide on it belongs in the compost container. However, giving your fresh produce a good rinse, or even a scrub can eliminate pesticides. I collect the peels of potatoes, carrots and other veggies, along with the stems of fresh herbs in a zip lock bag in my freezer. When I have collected enough, I boil the frozen peels to make stock. I freeze the stock in ice cube trays, ready to pop into any dish that needs vegetable stock. This time, however, I will focus on my favorite kitchen scraps — citrus peels.

lemon, citrus peels

Use lemon and other citrus fruit scraps for cleaning

If you have lemons, you have no need for toxic chemicals in your kitchen. Lemons can deal with greasy and other stains that need more than a mild dishwashing liquid. Whenever you juice lemons, collect the lemon halves in the refrigerator or even the freezer.

Remove grease

Sprinkle greasy surfaces, pots and pans with baking soda or salt. Use a juiced lemon half to rub the fatty area. The abrasive baking soda or salt, along with the lemon, will get rid of the grease quickly. Furthermore, you could put the lemon half in one of those mesh bags in which you buy onions or other veggies. Use that as a scourer to clean pots. However, don’t use lemons to clean sensitive surfaces like marble.

Use a lemon to clean your kettle

Mineral deposits build up in kettles over time. However, you can keep your teakettle free of buildup with the help of another juiced half lemons. Fill the kettle with water and add the lemon. Let it boil for a few minutes, switch off the heat and leave it to cool down. Drain the water after about an hour or two, rinse the kettle well, and the mineral buildup will be gone. Now’s the time to let the lemon scraps go to the compost.

Lemon, ice cubes

Lemon rinds can bring your coffee pot’s sparkle back

Here’s how you do it. Put a handful of lemon rinds, several ice cubes and a spoon of salt in your glass coffee pot. Swirl it around for a couple of minutes, then dump the lemon rides. Drain the coffee pot and go get your sunglasses to protect your eyes from the bright sparkle of the glass pot. LOL

Uses of lemon and other citrus to enhance food

We all know about lemon zest. However, how many times have you skipped that bit of the recipe because you did not have a lemon? That is why I pop my juiced lemons in the freezer. Let me tell you how to use every single citrus peel before throwing it in the compost.

Lemon peel

Citrus extract powder

This is awesome. You can use limes, lemons, grapefruit or oranges for citrus extract powder. Make twists of citrus peel or zest, making sure you remove the pith, which is bitter. Spread it out on a flat surface like a baking tray or a plate. Leave it to dry completely. Zest should take about two days to dry, and twists will likely be dry after three or four days. Make sure it is completely dry, else it will turn moldy. Grind it to powder in a spice grinder or a blender, and store it in a jar that you can seal.

Here’s how to use citrus extract powder

Add the powder to sugar to make citrus sugar. Alternatively, you can put the citrus peel twists into a jar of sugar. Leave it for a few days to allow the citrus oils to infuse with the sugar before removing the twists.

Add citrus extract powder to the peppercorns in your grinder. The intense lemon flavor is incredibly tasty when added to freshly ground black pepper.

You will likely find more citrus powder uses if you have it ready to use in a sealed jar.

Lemon, oil, mortar & pestle

Lemon infused olive oil

Use the peels of lemons or any other citrus fruits for this one. Use a pestle and mortar to pound some citrus peels, clear of pith, and a small dash of olive oil. Once you’re done smashing it up, add it to a larger container of olive oil. Leave it overnight and then drain into another jar.

Citrus infused vinegar or honey

This is as easy as adding twists of citrus peel to honey or vinegar. Leave it for several days to marry the flavors. You can then drain it to remove the citrus twists, but I just leave them in the liquid.

lemon zest

Make and store lemon zest

Use fresh citrus halves after squeezing out the juice. However, you can even use whole fresh fruit, and you can extract the juice later and freeze it in ice cube trays. Use a zester or microplane, or even the fine side of a grater. Most importantly, take care to remove only the bright colored layer and not the bitter white pith. You can store the zest by freezing it in cubes or dry it to grind it to powder.

To conclude, the list of uses for frozen zest cubes and juice cubes is endless. For example, sauces, soups, salads, stews and don’t forget the creamy lemon meringue pie or lemon cheesecake.

lemon meringue pie

 

One last tip

Avoid having to deal with a brick of brown sugar by adding a piece of lemon peel to the container. It will keep the sugar soft and loose.

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