As someone who tries to live a zero waste sustainable lifestyle, I frequently get to figure out new ways to to repurpose things which would previously have been called waste. Even better when that “waste” is edible, flavorful, and medicinal!!! Like lemon peels…or any citrus peel for that matter. 🙂 Lemon peels are my favorite to preserve in whole form because the pith (the white stuff under the yellow skin) is more palatable, less bitter than it’s orange and lime sisters which can be a little pungent on the pucker. 🙂 ON thicker lemons or other citrus, you might want to remove as much of the pith as you can.
I live in a part of the country where it is difficult to get good non local produce, like organic lemons so it makes sense for me to preserve every last bit of these gems for easy use all year.
If you’re at this site, I probably don’t have to remind you of their high vitamin and mineral content, antioxidants, fiber and more. In fact the peel is alleged to contain 10 times more vitamins in the peel than the actual fresh squeezed juice! It also contains one of my favorite compounds d-limonene, which is said to be effective against cancer, arthritis and other inflammatory conditions, immune system, cardiovascular and digestive disorders. It is also alleged that drinking lemon peel tea will reduce your risk of cancer by up to 70%!!! I like to use ginger with my lemon peel tea!
There are so many uses they have been proven effective for, but I will let you do your own research on how they could help with gingivitis, high blood pressure, skin cancer, bacterial and fungal issues, parkinsons, tumors, wrinkles, uti’s and more. 🙂 Truth is, whether it did any of that or not, I would still save them for their bright bold flavor and for making my favorite greek dishes like avgolemono. Besides, who wouldn’t want free lemon pepper seasoning without the chemicals??? 🙂
I would like to stress the importance of using organic when possible, if you are trying to avoid chemicals and experience the lemon in it’s natural unadulterated state.
Some of the things I use lemon peels for are as a cleaner…to accomplish this, I soak the fresh peels after squeezing into vinegar. I let them “tincture” for a couple months or more then strain, dilute and spray. It’s also a good base to add to your homemade air freshener, bug spray, toners, face mask, hair shampoo, rinse or spray. And of course if you want to use it as a salad dressing, you would make my greek grandmother very happy! 🙂 You can also use the fresh peels as a body scrub or exfoliater in the shower. And if you’re into rubbing lemons on your skin, don’t forget those pits, as lemon peel can be a deodorant all by itself! 🙂
I also tincture the fresh peels in 50% alcohol to preserve their medicine and to extract the flavor to be used later in any of your favorite lemon recipes…cookies, cakes, sauces, etc…
As for the dried peels, I like to use them in teas and broths, or you can grind them up for lemon powder…add some pepper and voila, lemon pepper seasoning! I also like to make an infused oil with the dried peels for their bright scent and skin protective abilities. Some bugs also abhor the scent of citrus and it may even help keep SOME pests, like cats out of your garden. I spray my lemon vinegar on my catio to keep the flies away…and to clean up pesky animal accidents to ensure I never need to remember they used my floor as a toilet. 🙂
Despite all these uses, which I’ve just BARELY scratched the surface of, lemons are not for everyone and CAN cause skin irritation, photosensitivity when out in the sun and can interact negatively with certain medications. Like with anything else I share here, check with your medical professional before you decide to use any of these methods.
I hope this invites you to see new ways of using your discard, rather than just composting everything and if you also use your citrus peels, please let me know how in the comments!