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Celebrating Citrus When You Can't Compost

Updated: Mar 25, 2021

Celebrating International Compost Awareness Week with my friends at Plantd™ - Coconut Bowls. Approximately 3.9 million tons of food is wasted each year in New York, making its way into landfills which releases methane which is over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide and collectively contributes to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In the U.S., households are responsible for the largest portion of food waste, tossing 238 pounds of food per person each year!

NYC has had an amazing composting program for years but due to Covid-19 they're halting the program until 2021. While everyone's health is of the utmost importance, it shouldn't mean that everything else should be pushed aside.If you could help sign this petition to try to reinstate this service, that would be amazing! Thank you! 

In the meantime, this suspension has me looking to maximize all of our fruits and vegetables and minimizing food waste.

I save all my veggies scraps for either regrowing or for a nourishing Root-to-Leaf Soup Stock. As for fruits, we've been getting a lot of citrus to help boost our Vitamin C and alleviate seasonal allergies. While I like to make my Lemon Cubes, using the whole lemon, and zesting citrus for yummy Citrus Poppy Seed Cookies, I needed some more ways to maximize our clementine and orange peels. 

I learned about OLEO-SACCHARUM a concentrated "oily sugar" used for cocktails and is super easy to make. Use the peels of 6 clementines, chopped and toss and muddle it with 1 cup of sugar. Let it rest for 6 hours or overnight to let the sugar draw out the citrus oils and naturally become a syrup. Use a teaspoon or two of boiled water to dissolve any remaining sugar. Use a the back of a spoon to press down on the peels and scoop out the oil, tilting the bowl slightly to get all the concentrated sugar out. Store refrigerated in an air-tight jar. 

After scooping out the citrus-oil infused syrup, spread the sugary peels out onto a parchment paper-lined baking tray and let it dry completely for a few days (I forgot about them on the windowsill for 3 days!) and then either store these for snacking or for adding into cookies. Or use a food processor or to grind this into a powder for a CITRUS SUGAR SCRUB. 

Candied peels (recipe below) are a win-win as well, with no waste, and a nice little sweet treat. I prepared the peels before enjoying the fruit so as to use the "waste" first and also have ready-to-eat snacks, and easy to juice lemons and limes. When using the skins, if possible try to buy organic, otherwise make sure to scrub and soak your fruits in a large bowl of water with 2 tablespoons of baking soda to remove pesticide residue.


3 navel oranges

2 lemons

2 cups (500g) sugar, divided

1 cup (240 ml) water

  • Bring a large pot filled with 4 cups (1 L) of water to a boil. Wash your fruit and use a knife to score the skin into quarters. Peel and either eat, juice, or save the fruit. Cut the peels into 1/4" (6 mm) strips.

  • Blanch the peels in the boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain and repeat this same step. This will take the bitterness out. It also makes the house smell great! I strained the steamy liquid into bowls and placed them in the bedrooms for the day.

  • Make a simple syrup with 1 1/2 cups (350g) of the sugar and water. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the peels and bring to a boil again, then reduce the heat to low and cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  • Remove the peels with a slotted spoon and carefully shake off any excess liquid*. Place on a wire cooling rack that is placed on top of a baking tray and sprinkle with the remaining sugar. Let the peels dry in a sunny spot (overnight in the oven with the oven light on) for 1-2 days. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge or freezer.

  • *Save the citrus syrup in a for a naturally-flavored soda or cocktail sweetener.

You can also make a powerful citrus cleaner using orange and lemon peels. Collect the peels and roughly chop them up. Store them in a jar in the freezer. When you collect enough peels to fill the jar, fill it with distilled white vinegar, close the lid, and store in a dark spot (like under your kitchen sink) for 2 weeks. Take the peels out and mix one part of this solution with one part water in a spray bottle to clean your kitchen or bathroom surfaces. It's my favorite de-greaser!

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