Monday, 7 July 2014

Orange Peels and What To Do With Them: Part 1

As a child, I usually got some form of fruit in my packed lunches, back in the day when we only needed REAL fruit with the wrappings Mother Nature already put on them. I remember apples, bananas, peaches, and one of my favourites, green grapes! Occasionally, mom would tuck in an orange, and unless I was super hungry, it would often end up back at home.  You see, oranges, as much as I liked them, were my lunchtime nemesis!

I was not a picky eater. I was quite adventurous with foods and ultimately, there are very few foods I dislike based on taste. Oranges, on the other hand, were a different story.  I disliked oranges, not because of how the orange itself tasted, but because the Battle of Orange vs. Michelle never ended well for me. Oranges were (and still are) a pain in the butt to eat for me so I generally preferred not to eat them at all.  Far too much work!

I was not efficient at peeling them, and it always seemed to take most of the lunch period to get that peel off, only to reveal that icky white layer. There it is, in all of it's bitter glory! It almost laughs at me with that evil "muhawhaw" sort of laugh, reminding me that in order to enjoy the sweet juiciy goodness of the orange, I would have to endure the horrible taste and texture of that white pith with every bite. To make my orange eating experience worse, let's not forget all that tasty juice squirting EVERYWHWRE as I clumsily split the thing into its sections. Yes sir-ee, peeling and eating oranges was definitely not on my list of fun things to do! 

I could tell you stories and go on about the mental scars left on my psyche from all of those orange encounters, but there isn't time!  Let's just say, my orange consumption was very rare for many years to follow, except at Christmas-time when we got Clementines that are EASY PEEL!

Fast forward many years and a tutorial I watched on a cooking show about how to peel and section oranges with your knife! What a novel idea. I was elated!  Once again, I could enjoy oranges and not have to endure that icky white pith and the endless orange juice showers. I put orange sections on our mixed greens salads, I put orange sections in our fruit salad, I ate oranges all by themselves. I put orange sections in all sorts of things using my new found knife skill. I even started putting orange sections in my youngest daughter's lunches. Apparently, I did not pack oranges for my kids ever. In hind sight, perhaps I did not wish my daughters to have the mental scars of anguish from doing battle with my orange nemesis!

This leads to the point of this post.  After a few years of happy peeling and sectioning, and joyful orange eating,  it donned on me to ask "What does one do with the leftover peels?"  Oranges are expensive enough, so I might as well us as much of it as you can!  I am pleased to say, have found 3 things to do with them... another tip from Michelle's frugal world! 

Cleaning Solution

The first is using them in a homemade and Eco-friendly surface cleaner. I found this idea while surfing around Pinterest, but I can't remember the exact site I found it. Subsequently, I cannot take credit for this brilliant gem of information. The essential oils in the peels have a lovely fragrance and do a great job at cutting grease. I generally make this cleaning solution on a day that I am peeling and sectioning several oranges for a recipe.  I take these peels (making sure there is no fruit left on the peel) and put them into  a 750 ml mason jar.  If your recipe does not have enough peels to actually fill the mason jar, that's okay. You can add more orange peels and vinegar to the cleaning solution the next time you have some orange peels to add. 

Once your orange peels are in the jar, fill the jar with regular white vinegar so that the peels are basically covered. Put a lid on the jar and store it in the refrigerator. I generally leave this solution to soak for at least a week and it is ready to use. You can continue to add more peels to an existing jar of cleaning solution. If you add more peels make sure you add enough vinegar to cover everything. You will need to let it stand for another week.  I generally do this until my jar is completely full. I also have two jars in the fridge at any given time. One jar that I'm using and a second jar that is a work in progress so I am never left short. 

For the past 25 years, I have used a 50-50 mix of vinegar and water to clean my home. I don't mind the smell of vinegar, and find it dissipates quite quickly. The addition of the citrus peel is a nice addition and it seems to improve the cleaning power. I know that some people cannot stand the smell of cleaning with vinegar. Subsequently, they choose not to use vinegar in green cleaning. If you are one of these folks, you will find the addition of the orange peels amazing and the smell of vinegar is not discernible at all!

To use the solution, pour the solution into a spray bottle, about half full.  Top the remaining half with water.  Shake to mix. I use this solution to damp dust, wipe down all the surfaces in kitchen and bathroom. I even use it on mirrors, and it is really good for finger marks on door frames and light switches. It's my go to general cleaning solution AND it satisfies the ecoholic in me.

As a point of interest, this cleaning solution can be done with lemon peels too or a combination of lemon and orange.  Happy cleaning!