I love a good deal, don’t you? I also love to purchase in bulk and “put food up” for another day. So, when the opportunity came to purchase a box of oranges from a youth baseball fundraiser at a really good price, I couldn’t resist… but what to do with 20 pounds of oranges? Find 28 uses for oranges, of course!
Excitingly, the same oranges that you’ve seen in your pantry 100 times have more uses than just a yummy snack. They can liven your foods, moisturize your face, and even clean your kitchen!
Read on to learn how to prepare, zest, chop, squeeze, and liquidate oranges in 28 useful ways.
Preparing Your Oranges
The first thing to do is wash the oranges before you use them in a sink of vinegar and water – you are going to eat or zest them so you need to get rid of the dirt and nasty chemicals first.
Fill a sink with warm water and add vinegar. Don’t worry too much about the ratio – a big “glug” of vinegar to half a sink of warm water will do. Let them sit for a few minutes and then rinse. I washed enough for several days and left the rest until I wanted to use them.
The wax coating that they place on them helps protect the oranges so they will last longer.
28 Uses for Oranges
- Eat them! Oranges are a healthy snack with low calories. You can’t beat them for a mid-day boost.- 86 calories in a large orange- 65 calories in a medium size orange- 45 calories in a small orange
- How can you use a whole orange without waste? Simple…place the washed orange in the freezer. Once the orange is frozen, get your grater or vegetable peeler, shred the whole orange (no need to peel it), and sprinkle it on top of your foods. Sprinkle it on your salad, ice cream, soup, cereals, smoothies, noodles, spaghetti sauce, rice, sushi, fish dishes….the list is endless. All of the foods will have a wonderful taste. (This works well with lemon and lime too)
Make orange zest and use it for Corrie’s Kitchen Spa: Citrus Salt Body Scrub Recipe. Of course, you could cook with it too.
- Make an herbal tea. Traditionally, orange peels are used internally in teas to help with stomach cramps and as an appetite stimulant.
- Make orange zest and freeze it with water in ice cube trays. Use it for flavorful drinks on a hot day or to add some zing to your daily water routine.
- Make old fashioned marmalade! It’s a great addition to your food storage. I used this recipe from Self-Reliant School and added spices to mix it up – nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon are good choices. Tasty!
- Dry and powder the rinds. Here’s a great post from the Cupcake Project with all the instructions on how to make and use the powdered zest.
- Make natural citrus cleaner with orange rinds and white vinegar. This was my favorite thing to do with the leftover orange peels, now I have orange scented vinegar to clean with. It’s so easy, you’ll never throw away an orange peel again.
- Garbage Disposal sweetener – Keep the vinegar orange peels in a jar on the counter and put a few down the disposal every time you use it.
- We always have extra eggs and now that I have a box of oranges I can make Honey Sweetened Orange Curd. This stuff is fabulous! You’ve got to try it over ice cream.
- Clean your sink. Oranges can be used to safely clean most surfaces. Cut an orange in half and dip it lightly into a dish of salt. Scrub the inside of your sink with the salted orange. Rinse thoroughly. Then use it for #9. Your drain will smell nice too! Even an orange that has already been juiced will work with this technique.
- Make an orange pomander. The citrus scent is pleasant and is a great mix of cloves, which repel moths. Here’s how: Use a toothpick and make holes in an orange. Fill the holes with whole cloves. Bake the oranges on low for an hour or until they harden. After cooling, decorate with ribbon or string to form a sling for the orange. Hang in your closets, your bathrooms, your kitchens, or where you keep litter boxes. I like to put several of these in a decorative bowl in my bedroom.
- 13. Make an orange peel face mask. Grind dried orange peels to a powder and add it with an equal part of water (or milk) until you have a paste. Apply as a face and body treatment. This can be done with other citrus peels as well (lemon peels, grapefruit peels, etc) to make a variety of masks!
- Keep your brown sugar lump free. Oranges can deter brown sugar from hardening. Place a two-inch wide orange peel piece, pith and all, in with your brown sugar and keep in an air-tight container. The skin puts moisture into the air inside the container, keeping the air damp.
- Fire Starters – The oil in orange peels is volatile, use this to your advantage and make your own fire starters. Squeeze the oil of orange peels onto a bundle of dryer lint. To start a fire out camping, put some dried orange peels with the kindling under the larger wood. Wave goodbye to toxic chemical fumes for a not-so-budget-friendly camping item.
- Make delicious homemade oil for use on a salad – give them as gifts, or just keep for your own kitchen. Place bits of orange peel (pith removed) and dried cranberries or a sprig of your favorite herb, into a decorative bottle and fill the remainder with extra virgin olive oil. Close the bottle and place it in a dark place. Remember to gently shake every few days. After several weeks the orange peels and herbs will impart a wonderful flavor to the oil. Remove the herbs, decorate and give!
- Make citrus sugar: Use fresh twists and add them to sugar, combining them in a jar Let the oil from the peel infuse the sugar, and after a few weeks remove the peel.
- Make citrus extract powder: Make zest or twists (lemons, limes, oranges, or grapefruit) being sure to remove the pith and allow to dry, about three or four days for twists, less for zest. Put in a blender (or spice grinder) and pulverize into a powder. Store in a clean jar.
- Keep cats away from your garden or houseplants. I’ve heard that cats don’t like the scent of orange. Try placing dried rinds around your prized plants and see what happens. If the cats are really stubborn, dry out some coffee grounds (as much as you can get) and mix them with freshly grated orange peels (you want the peels to preserve their strong smell for an effective cat repellent); mix everything with soil from your garden and add the mixture to the places turned by cats into their litter boxes or around plants. This natural cat repellent will sent the message to any feline trespasser to keep away while being non-toxic to kids and dogs.
- Compost it of course! Just be sure you don’t overload the compost bin with citrus. Putting the entire box in would be a bad idea and a waste of other great products you could be making!
- Reduce the odor in your trash area. Placing orange peel at the bottom of your trash can, before putting the bag or bags in, is said to reduce odor and discourage insect infestation.
- Make candied orange slices with these directions from Stacy Lynn Harris.
- Make an infusion of honey with orange peels by placing twists and letting the flavors steep for a few weeks. Speed up the process by slowly heating them on the stove, being careful not to bring it to a boil. Remove the peels and store in a clean jar.
Try making your own orange oil extract: Caution! Orange oil is flammable and very corrosive. For most cleaning purposes, a quarter of an ounce mixed in with a quart of water should be enough to get the beneficial results. Always spot test before applying in quantity.
-// Dry and grind the orange peels.-// Place into a mason (glass) jar and cover with clear grain alcohol (like vodka), warming it first will yield more oil.-// Shake vigorously for a few minutes and repeat every couple of days.-// After two weeks, strain the mixture through a coffee filter, reserving the alcohol.-// Place it in a shallow dish, cover with cheesecloth, and allow alcohol to evaporate, what’s left over will be orange oil.
Note: For this use, and any other uses for oranges that require the peels, use only organic fruit. Most non-organic oranges exceed pesticide limits and their peels are coated with the cancer-causing fungicide imazalil. The same goes for all other citrus fruit, including lemon, lime, and grapefruit.
- For those scorched pots and pans, boil several orange rinds in them. Let everything sit for an hour or so, and gently clean with dish soap as usual. Rinse off. Your kitchen will be smelling heavenly fresh too. So, it’s a win-win (if using the rinds is too much of a hassle, replace them with baking soda for the same effect).
- Make orange juice (lots of it!). This might sound like a no brainer, but when your pantry is overflowing with oranges, it is the most sensible thing to do. And don’t worry about the excess juice going bad. It should last in the refrigerator for up to three days and up to four months in the freezer. Check out our related post: Freezing Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice.
- Make natural pectin for your jams and jellies. Not everyone is a huge fan of gelatin (I’m looking at you, our health-conscious or vegan readers). You can swap the gelatin with homemade pectin. Fortunately, the white, fibrous part of orange peels also known as the pith is chock-full of the right stuff. Just remove the pith, chop it finely, place it in a cotton muslin drawstring bag and let everything boil in the jam. I’ve already talked about natural substitutes for pectin and mentioned some easy homemade pectin recipe ideas in my related post: Make Jam without Pectin.
- Turn an orange into a natural exfoliator. Dip a half orange into coarse sugar and gently exfoliate your skin with it. The sugar will remove dead skin cells boosting skin regeneration while the juice in the orange will feed your skin from the outside in. Oranges are rich in nutrients that are a boon for the skin such as vitamin C and E, antioxidants, and zinc. Give your skin some much-needed TLC at least once a week.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does orange peel remove dark spots?
The active ingredients in oranges are Vitamin C and natural AHAs, which have a direct effect on the human skin’s dark spots. They basically help those spots to heal and moisturize the skin to return it to its normal properties.
What happens if you eat oranges every day?
Due to the high amount of vitamin C that can be found in oranges, we don’t recommend eating them every day, and especially not if you have the habit of eating them in large quantities. Basically, they can cause abdominal cramps, and could also lead to diarrhea, as well as other stomach problems. Also, you should take note that oranges are not exactly low in calories, so eating several per day can result in an exponential weight gain.
Can you eat oranges if you’re diabetic?
The American Diabetes Association has listed citrus fruits among Diabetes superfoods. According to the association, citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and lemons are full of fiber, vitamin C, folate, and potassium, which would help benefit a healthy diabetic eating plan. In short, yes, you can eat oranges if you’re diabetic, and they’re actually recommended.
Is orange good for high blood pressure?
Citrus fruits, including grapefruit, oranges, and lemons, may have powerful blood-pressure-lowering effects. They’re loaded with vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds that may help keep your heart healthy by reducing heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure. In short, yes, oranges are great if you have high blood pressure.
Is one orange a day enough vitamin C?
Oranges contain 53 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. One medium orange delivers 70 mg of vitamin C. Other citrus fruits, such as grapefruit, mandarins, and limes, are also good sources of this vitamin. However, the recommended daily vitamin C is between 65 to 90 mg per day, with the upper limit being 2000 mg per day.
The Wrap Up
With a little advance planning, you will never waste another orange again. What are your favorite uses for oranges? Comment below or send us a note on our Facebook page.
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