7 Brilliant Uses for Leftover Produce Scraps

It’s always such a shame to make a big veggie stir fry or smoothie, only to end up tossing a pound of nutritious skins and ends into the trash. Luckily, many of these “trash cuts,” especially citrus, can be easily frozen and stored for a variety of other incredible uses. Give these 7 a try:

Lemon rinds for cleaning. Instead of turning to toxic cleaning from the get-go, give lemon a chance. Grab a juiced lemon from your fridge or freezer and rub on dirty surfaces. If the kitchen surface is really dirty, sprinkle a little baking soda on before rubbing with lemon. Of course, if you are trying to clean very delicate surfaces, make sure to test a small area first to be sure to maintain its integrity.

Freeze zest for later. It always happens — you start baking a pie that needs a little kick, and you have no citrus! Avoid a lack of flavor oompf by stocking up. When you have juiced citrus that you are ready to toss in the trash, zest the skins instead. Then, plop them into an airtight jar and stick it in the freezer for later. That way, you always have zest on hand for desserts, dishes, and yes, especially drinks.

Flavor with citrus powder. If there is no room in your freezer, you have another option. Make zest, being careful to avoid the bitter pith, and let it dry in a shallow bowl for a day or two. Once it is completely dry, pulse it in a spice grinder and pulverize to your heart’s delight! Once you have a fine powder, store it in a small jar in your cabinet until you need it — viola – homemade citrus powder. For extra fun, add the powder to sugar, salt, or pepper to really zest up your dishes. One great idea is lemon garlic powder for seafood, or orange cinnamon for hot cocoas!

Craft custom infusions. If you’re sick of regular old condiments, use old skins and pods to create unique and custom infusions. Make sure to pound the scraps in a mortar first to unleash the flavors. The, using olive oil, honey, sugar, or even alcohol as a base, steep your peels anywhere from 6 hours to a few weeks. This works brilliantly with citrus rinds and used vanilla bean pods, and can make great holiday gifts!

Stock up on stock. It’s a great idea to make stock in bulk and freeze it in jars or ice cube trays until needed. Vegetable stock works great with fresh veggies, but why waste food when you have plenty of scraps bundled up in the freezer for just such an occasion? Potato peels, onion scraps, carrot ends and peels, and fresh herb stems are all great for boiling down into a delicious veggie stock! Just be sure to clean the peels well and use organic as often as possible.

Banana peels for skin health. Banana peels can act as a natural loofa. They are loaded with antioxidants like lutein that can moisturize and nourish your entire body. For exfoliating your body, sprinkle a little sugar on the inner side of a peel and gently massage moistened skin before rinsing for a sparkling, healthy glow. For acne, rub a small chunk of peel over the affected area for around a minute. Let the residue sit for 30 minutes, and then rinse off. Many have had great success combatting adult acne and fading acne scars in this manner.

Peels in facial care. Rubbing orange or grapefruit peels on your face acts as a nourishing skin tonic. The natural acidity and texture sloughs off dead, dull skin, while the Vitamin C works to fight signs of damage and aging. Additionally, the inner peel of avocado peel also works great as a rich moisturizer, as it is loaded with beneficial oils. Leave it on for 15 minutes before rinsing for full benefits. What’s perhaps most surprising, however, is the anti-inflammatory action of potato peels. If you have puffy eyes, press the inner side of the peel onto your skin for 15 minutes to decrease swelling. Move over cucumbers!

There’s no need to create more food waste. By repurposing “scraps,” you can save money and make the most of your food. However, if you plan on utilizing your scraps, always be sure to buy organic produce whenever possible — the skins can harbor the bulk of the pesticides. Otherwise, think twice before throwing your scraps straight into the dumpster and you might just save some cash while boosting the flavors of  your life.

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Roger B
Richard B4 days ago

Thanks for sharing

Jacob S
Jacob S4 days ago

thank you for sharing

Paulo R
Paulo R18 days ago


Emma L
Emma L18 days ago

Thank you

Greta L
Past Member 3 months ago


Sonia M

Interesting post with useful tips,thanks for sharing.

Karen M
Karen Martinez9 months ago

I usually cook my vegetables with the skins on, but when I do have to peel, I save the peelings in the freezer and cook them up later to make broth for some soup. It never quite tastes the same, but is always good. Did not know about the banana peel/acne thing. Will have to tell my adult children about it. Thanks for the great article.

Sue H
Sue H9 months ago

Still helpful suggestions, thanks.

Mia B
Past Member 9 months ago

thank you

Marija M
Marija M9 months ago