Ever wondered what to do with orange peels? A common (and useful) suggestion is to slice it up and soak in vinegar to make homemade orange scented surface cleaner. I do this all the time, but sometimes you have too much, especially during citrus season.
Here are a few suggestions to use up those orange peels:
Think outside in. Zest orange rind can be added to anything really. Try bliss balls, soup, or salad dressing. You can zest the orange and use the inside another time. My mom did this and I recall we often had oranges in the fruit bowl with just the pith showing, fine and ready to use elsewhere.
Make candy. These taste like gummy worms with an intense orange flavour. Zero Waste Chef has a no fuss recipe (of course she does). My trick is to add a dash of citric acid to the candied peels to make ’em sour.
Make tea. An idea from the always inspiring Milkwood is to make tea with what you have. Orange peel would go nicely with cloves and a black tea. To dehydrate, just place the peel on a sheet in a low low oven for a long time until perfectly dry.
Make citrus powder. Dehydrate the rinds and then blitz in a food processor to make a powder to add to anything, like scones, if you’re fancy.
Make a jug of water more refreshing. A good solution for entertaining, when making cocktails or guacamole, or anything citrus leaves you with a pile. Pop the ends into the water jug. This was orange, mint and lime.
More ideas to use up orange peels
Add peels to your homemade broth since bones are best cooked with some acid.
Try orange rind halves as seed starting vessels – just poke a hole in the bottom for some drainage.
Would you or have you tried any of these ideas? They can all be adapted to whatever citrus peel you want to use up. You can also store rinds in the freezer until you get around to trying any of these suggestions.
Don’t toss your pumpkin seeds – when roasted they’re a delicious and easy Zero Waste snack.
On pumpkins: from sceptic to superfan
Growing up, I was not a fan of pumpkins. The only pumpkins I liked were Smashing, made into pie or used for halloween decor. Wedges of orange flesh, even dressed up with brown sugar was never something I’d voluntarily eat. Sorry Mom, file that one with your peanut butter and banana sandwiches in the She’s Not Having It folder.
I’m sure my mother is delighted to know that nowadays I am a big fan of all kinds of pumpkins. I’m not sure why it changed exactly. All of a sudden I started to like them, alongside the previously despised brassicas, beets, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini… you get the picture. Maybe it was something in the preparation, or simply a maturing of my taste buds. I don’t like Corn Pops cereal anymore, so there.
I should perhaps clarify: In Australia, they call anything a pumpkin that Canadians would call winter squash.
Whatever you call them, they are brilliant roasted, blended for soup or cubed into slow cooked curries. Kabocha and butternut are my favourites.
I now eat plenty of pumpkin, including the skins. I even eat the flowers when I can get my hands on them. But something I’ve never ever had a problem with are the seeds. My mom used to toast them after we’d scooped them out of our jack-o-lanterns. Tasty, crunchy snacks that also happen to be Zero Waste. But you don’t need to wait for Halloween to make these – you can roast the seeds of any pumpkin or squash to similar effect.
How to make roasted pumpkin seeds
It’s really too easy.
When you eat any pumpkin, scoop out the seeds, remove any large fleshy bits from the seeds with your fingers, toss them in a bit of oil of your choice and a sprinkle of salt and roast for 15 minutes in an oven on medium heat (180 C/ 350 F).
Sometimes I add smoked paprika or garam masala in addition to salt. These are nice on salads or just eaten warm out of the oven. Choose your own adventure.
At bulk wholefoods stores, you’ll see pumpkin seeds under the name pepitas. These are simply pumpkin seeds that are bred without shells, or shelled. If you cracked the seed husks in most pumpkins, you’d find a similar green seed. This is possible to do at home but let’s be honest, who wants to bother with all that. You certainly don’t need to for this recipe.
Bill Gates thinks a chicken is the best investment you can make. While he doesn’t go into too much detail on the nuts and bolts, you can imagine it’s more to do with egg production than a particularly satisfying rotisserie meal. But it’s not just the chicken or the egg that have value, the eggshell too can be useful. A great example of how a ‘waste product’ is really just another raw material.
Scratching at the surface
My partner’s brother keeps chooks in their backyard and it’s fun to watch them sunning and perching. Chickens are perhaps an under-appreciated one of design of nature – egg making machines powered by food scraps and pasture grubs. If I could, I’d keep chickens at home. In the meantime, I buy eggs laid by pasture raised chickens, or at the very least, free range chickens.
This is a long way from what I used to do, which was look for the cheapest food possible. It did me well as a uni student, where leftover cash could fund my drinking hobby, but my view on this started to course correct after reading the Omnivore’s Dilemma, and generally learning more about food production systems. I now buy the best quality food I can afford and pay attention to animal husbandry involved. And I drink less.
Shelling out for quality
I justify spending $6 – $10 a dozen on pastured eggs because I know they are better for me, the chooks and the environment. How the animals are raised impacts on the nutrition of their output.
After I use an egg, I hold on to the eggshells and store them in the freezer until I plan to use them, bothering no one except my partner. He once asked why I was storing garbage in the freezer and I had to gently remind him that there is no such thing as garbage. The eggshells, apple cores, celery bits and citrus peels are all raw materials just waiting for a good way to be used.
Here are a few ways eggshells are useful long after the nutritious interior is gone.
Use eggshells in the garden
They can go directly into your compost or they can be used to start seedlings and improve the soil.
Improve the soil In the soil, eggshells act as a slow release source of calcium, which helps to raise the PH of the soil (making it less acidic). Grind finely for best effect. Apparently this helps in vermicomposting if the bedding becomes too acidic. I have also read that the grit of the eggshells helps the worms, toothless creature that they are, to grind away at the food scraps.
Start a seedling There are plenty of ways to start seedlings – this Pinterest popular solution shows that half an eggshell can replace those small plastic punnets.
What aren’t they good for? Deterring slugs! According to this blog anyway (what you really want is diatomaceous earth).
It’s nice to know the minimalists among us could do away with a bottle brush. Since I already have a bottle brush, I use this trick whenever the brush doesn’t fit. Just add crushed eggshells and water into the bottle, and shake it like a Polaroid picture. It’s crazy how well this works.
Calciumsupplementation Milkwood’s Kirsten Bradley adds an eggshell to water kefir ferments where it slowly dissolves over several batches. Each eggshell would have about 2000 – 2500mg of calcium, so you wouldn’t want to overdo the daily dose, especially if you’re getting a lot of calcium elsewhere in your diet or have heart issues. I don’t supplement calcium, but thought it an interesting way to achieve specific supplementation without the typically bottle and seal waste.
Use eggshells in…the bathroom?
Make tooth powder I make a tooth powder using calcium carbonate powder, clay, cinnamon, and sometimes bi carb or charcoal. I used to do the bi carb and coconut oil recipe, but it seemed a waste of oil and I didn’t like the idea of spitting oil into the drain pipes. All ingredients bought as refills from either the Soap Dispensary in Vancouver when I was there last year, or one of the bulk shops in Sydney. Since we don’t have a Soap Dispensary equivalent (tragedy really) in Sydney, finding a Zero Waste source of calcium carbonate could have proved difficult. Enter the ancient texts….
I’d read that ancient Romans used to grind eggshells for toothpowder. Clever, I thought, but I didn’t take action on this until I came across Zero Waste Chef’s post on making the same and then considered my lack of bulk calcium carbonate powder options.
How to find a good egg
If you can, buy or trade from someone you know. From a farmers market is a close second.
Watch out for misleading Free Range claims. In Australian, under current regulations, the stocking density can vary from 1,500 to 10,000 hens per hectare and no meaningful outdoor access. Animal welfare experts recommend 1,500. Sometimes this is listed on the carton, sometimes not. You can bet the cheapest free range eggs at the major supermarkets are produced with the max stocking density. More detail on the Choice website, including the names of brands that comply, those that don’t, and those that have been fined for lying.
How to tell if your egg is still edible
Australian eggs are often sold on the shelf, not in a refrigerated section. Once refrigerated, keep them there, but if they are not in the fridge when you buy them, there’s no real urgency in getting them into one, unless it’s really hot out or you plan to keep them for ages and ages. This also makes them handy for taking camping.
To see if your egg is still edible (and it probably is) you can check if it floats or sinks. Don’t eat a floating egg.
So give these ideas a crack or share in the comments any other uses you have for eggshells.
A half a round of artisan sourdough bread sat forgotten in the small fridge at work. Stored in a paper bag and left for too long, it had lost both moisture and appeal.
I don’t know whose it was, but I took it home with me anyway to save it from the bin.
A breadful waste
It’s often our default to toss food that’s past its prime. Our food prices are artificially low and it’s so easy to just buy more. With Australians wasting $8 billion of perfectly good food each year, and bread being a staple for most, it’s not a leap to imagine we’re binning a lot of perfectly good bread.
We’re long way from where we’ve come.
Humans can and did live on bread alone (the slow fermenting variety). In fact, the daily loaf was so critical to the meagre diet of the French peasantry, it was soaring wheat prices that catalyzed the French Revolution. I feel certain the French of the time would disapprove our bread wasting ways.
How do you do, pain perdu?
The French, as it happens, know a few tricks for using stale bread. One of which is pain perdu, or bread pudding – just the bread soaked in a mixture of milk and eggs and cooked. This is precisely what I did with the stale bread I found.
Here’s my ‘forgotten, but not lost’ bread pudding recipe:
half a loaf of stale bread, chopped into rough chunks
4 eggs (ish)
milk, maybe a half cup
1 Tbsp sugar, rice malt syrup or other sweetener (optional)
Instructions // Mix everything together to soak for an hour. Bake in a 200 degree celsius oven for 30 minutes or until it starts to puff up and the inside is cooked.
Pro tip // This could easily go savoury if you omit the sweets and change the spice profile.
How I made it low waste:
I used food destined for the bin.
I seasoned with spices I’ve refilled in bulk.
I flavoured with vanilla I made myself.
I composted the egg shells.
I recycled the milk container.
I baked it in a stainless steel pan I bought secondhand for $2 at the op shop.
I composted the paper bag the loaf came in (if it hadn’t been a bit greasy I would have recycled it).
Importantly, I ate all of it.
7 tips for getting the most out of the bread you buy
Buy proper sourdough. It keeps longer, freezes well, and is one of the more nutritious types.
Buy your loaf unpackaged from a local bakeshop. Bring a cloth bag to carry it back home.
Or try making your own sourdough bread from culture.
Don’t store bread in the fridge where it’ll lose moisture.
Do consider freezing half the loaf if you don’t think you’ll eat it all before it goes stale. Slice first so you can toast from frozen.
If the bread’s a bit stale, make bread pudding (scroll up), or croutons, or breadcrumbs.