As a hot tea with lemon addict, I end up with lots of left over lemon slices. I have always composted them but after reading these great tips from DIY Natural.com, I think I may use some of them for a few of the suggestions below.
Make an all-purpose cleaner
This is one of the simplest ways to use your leftover lemon peels. Add the peels of several lemons to a large jar, and fill with white distilled vinegar. Allow the solution to “steep” in a cabinet for a few weeks. Strain out the peels, and use the vinegar solution as a great lemon-scented all-purpose cleaner…perfect for de-greasing, disinfecting, and leaving things smelling fresh. Add the citrus-infused vinegar to a spray bottle and use to clean countertops, sinks, toilets, spills, stovetops, or other surfaces.
Refresh and sanitize cutting boards
Lemon does a nice job of eliminating odors that are trapped in your cutting boards (like garlic and onion!). It also sanitizes boards due to its antibacterial properties. Take half a squeezed lemon with pulp intact, and rub vigorously over a cutting board that has been sprinkled with a coarsely ground salt (like kosher salt). Rinse well and allow to dry.
Deodorize garbage disposals
I always used lemons and oranges for this when I had a garbage disposal at my former home. Smelly garbage disposals can be freshened up with leftover lemon rinds. (I’m always careful to put smaller chunks down the disposal so it doesn't clog.) Simply drop rinds down the disposal with a few ice cubes and run the disposal.
Freeze lemon peels for recipes
You can freeze your rinds (or even whole lemons) and use them in recipes calling for lemon zest. You can also zest your fresh lemons before using them, and store the lemon zest in the freezer. Store flat in a zip-top baggie so it’s easier to break off a chunk of frozen lemon zest. Allow to thaw before adding to recipes. Add small amounts to foods, smoothies, or desserts for a bold flavor.
Start seeds indoors
If you have lemons that were cut in half and juiced, you can use those lemon “cups” to start seeds indoors. Poke a few holes in the bottom of the lemon if desired (for drainage), fill the lemon halves with soil, and plant your tiny seeds in them. This entire lemon cup can be planted outdoors in the spring. Orange halves would work here too.
Remove rust stains
The acid in lemons helps remove rust stains. This can be helpful in showers where shaving cream cans have left a rust ring, or sinks where iron pots have been left. Sprinkle salt on the rust stain and rub with half of a lemon that still has pulp inside. Allow the salt and lemon to sit for several hours, scrubbing periodically if needed. Allow the lemon to rest on the surface overnight if the stain has not yet disappeared, then rinse well with water.
Do you have tips for using lemons? Post them here and share with us!