*Stop! Don't Throw That Orange Peel Away*
By: Gottin_Himmel
15 March 2013

Citrus peels: they're not just for composting anymore. On the other hand, composting them is certainly better than throwing them in the trash.

But, if you're throwing away the skins of oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit, you just might be wasting a valuable resource.

I know. It's hard to think of them as much more than garbage in our modern-day world. However, I live in a northern climate and a major disruption in our food distribution network would probably mean citrus fruit would become scarce and expensive in a very short time.

If you've ever experimented with growing citrus trees indoors in pots, you've come to appreciate those lush California and Florida groves you see in television commercials. While you can grow citrus in the North, the effort would divert scarce resources during a widespread fan situation.

There are various recipes for citrus vinegars, preserved lemons, homemade lemon furniture polish and such that are posted on the Internet. It's fashionable to call these home-brewed concoctions "green." During the Great Depression, they were called "using it up."

Let's start with a very basic recipe for orange vinegar. You could use orange vinegar as an ingredient in salad dressing, if it's shaken up with olive oil and drizzled over a bowl of homegrown greens. However, the "green" movement has also come up with a pretty good way to whip up a batch of environmentally friendly cleaning products using our orange vinegar!

The process is so simple, it's silly.

For a good, all-purpose orange cleaner that performs as well as the ones on the store shelves, mix about a half cup of orange vinegar with a cup of water in a spray bottle. The mixture is great for a quick kitchen clean-up. Just spray the counters and the greasy stove top, wait for a minute or two, and then wipe away the grime with a paper towel or cleaning cloth. Surfaces will gleam because there isn't any chemical residue left behind. The acetic acid in white vinegar is also very good at killing germs.

If your house still smells like fish or cabbage or garlic after you've cleaned the kitchen, take that trusty bottle of orange vinegar with you from room to room. Spritz it around in the air. Your house will smell like vinegar for half an hour, and then it will just smell fresh and clean. If you have an allergy sufferer in the house, this is a bonus.

You will probably have lots of orange vinegar left after you made your super-duper citrus cleaner. Here's a simple recipe for furniture polish.

A badly scratched 1930s-vintage wardrobe looked like new after it got a treatment with this stuff.

If you have a wealth of lemons on hand, you can use their rinds in the same way. You can even mix lemon, orange and grapefruit peels to make a general citrus cleaner.

Next up: salt-preserving lemons or limes.

Pickled limes appeared in Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women" as a favorite treat of one sister, Amy. This didn't end well for her. You'll have a better outcome.

Preserved limes and lemons are used in a number of Middle Eastern dishes. Small pieces of rind are incorporated into grain-based dishes, such as couscous and tabbouleh (cracked wheat).

Preserved lemon rinds are used in making gremolata, a very tasty combination of lemon peel, garlic and parsley that's one of the mainstays of northern Italian cooking. Rub some gremolata on a chicken before you roast it and you'll understand why the Italians are happy people.

The whole preserved fruits can be used to stuff chicken or whole fish. You might try using them in a lamb dish in combination with rosemary and garlic.

The citrusy brine can be used in salad dressings and sauces.


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