The essence of emergency preparedness teaches us to get by with what we have. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the woods or in the kitchen. Being able to improvise with scarce resources is perhaps the most useful skills you could develop. Today we will discuss about the use of leftover fruit peels in the kitchen.
Being frugal in the kitchen means learning how to use your leftovers. You will save money, but you will also learn how to survive when resources are scarce. I’ve learned from my grandmother that fruit peels can be fermented to make delicious threats. She would often use peels and cores from apples and pears, but other fruits work as well.
The natural sugars in the discards, warmth and naturally occurring bacteria, and yeast can cause natural fermentation. You can use this mixture as a sourdough starter. Another good use would be to let it ferment further to turn into vinegar.
Making homemade vinegar from fruit peels
This is an easy recipe and you should start by mixing and mashing discarded fruit peels and cores. Strain through cheesecloth and add water if the mixture it’s too thick. Pour into a dark-colored glass and cover with the cheesecloth. Let the jars sit in a dark place for a few months. Check the jar and notice if the liquid has a sweet, vinegary smell as it turns to alcohol and then ferments to vinegar. If the mixture smells bad, throw it away and try a new batch.
Taste the mixture after two months. To get stronger vinegar let it sit for three months of more. When the flavor is to your liking, strain and bottle the fruit peels vinegar. It is normal to have solids settling at the bottom of the bottle. Don’t worry about it.
Making scrappy sourdough from fruit peels
My grandmother used to make sourdough starter all the time using fruit peels. She would put the fruit discards into a dark container and add equal amount of water. For this to work, you need to use non-chlorinated water. The chlorine from the tap water will kill the yeast. She would then cover the container with cheesecloth and store it in a warm, dark place.
After a week, she would check to see if the mixture is getting frothy and sweet smelling. Those were the tell-signs that the mixture is ready to use. If it would smell bad, she would throw it away and start again.
My grandmother would filter the fruit peels mixture through a cheesecloth and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. She would then add one cup of flour to one cope of the mixture. It is required to mix well, cover and let it sit in a warm spot for a day. If it’s bubbling on the second day, the starter is ready. Once your active starter is ready, you can use it in any recipe you want or you can refrigerate it. If you chose to store it for later use, feed it once a week the way you would a regular sourdough sponge.
Keep in mind that the rise time of this sourdough starter is longer. This is normal since the yeast does not act as fast as commercial yeast.
Making whole wheat sourdough from fruit peels
This is one recipe from my SHTF cooking book. It helps me make dense bread with the ingredients I store in my survival pantry. This recipe can be adapted depending on your altitude and the ingredients you’re storing. For example, I use honey, but you could use sugar if you don’t stockpile honey.
- 1 cup of sourdough starter
- 7 cups of flour
- 1 cup of water
- 2 tsp. of salt
- 1 Tbsp. of oil
- 2 Tbsp. of honey (or 2 ½ Tbsp. of sugar)
How to prepare it:
Start by heating the water at 115°F or at list till is too hot to touch. Add the starter and half of the flour. Add oil, honey (or sugar), salt and the most of the rest of the flour. Mix thoroughly and add more flour until it is easy to work by hand, but not too dry. The whole-wheat dough you are making should be a little bit sticky. Knead for about ten minutes by hand and half of that with a mixer. Cover and set aside in a warm place for about two hours. You can leave it aside until it has almost doubled.
Make the shape by hand and put them into two buttered loaf pans. Leave the loaves rise in a warm place for a few more hours. They should be double in size. The rise time takes longer than it does with conventional bread. To figure out if it has finished rising, poke it with your finger. If it doesn’t spring back it’s ready, if it does, let it rise for a little longer.
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Bake at 350°F for about 40 minutes up to an hour, or until done. Adjust the bake times and temperature based on humidity and altitude from your area. Use a food thermometer if you have any doubts. The center of the loaf should measure 200°F.
Other smart ways to use fruit peels
Here are a few tips on how to use fruit peels from various fruits. I’ve learned these over the years, and I’ve discovered most of them on the internet.
Use the peels from oranges, grapefruits and avocados for growing your seeds. You can scoop out the pulp and use the fruit peels as biodegradable seedling pots. When your seeds begin to grow, plant the entire pot in the ground and save time on transplanting.
Use lemon peels to clean your tea kettle. The mineral deposit build up can be cleaned, if you fill the vessel with water and a handful of lemon peels. Bring to a boil for a few minutes, turn off the heat and let it sit for an hour. Drain and rinse well afterwards.
Pomegranate peels are ideal for coloring fabrics. Use a stainless steel pot and fill with hot water and add the fruit peels. Let it sit overnight. Simmer he water and fruit peels the next day. Add the wet fabric after removing the fruit peels. Simmer gently for one hour and allow to cool overnight. Remove the next day and rinse in cool water.
Use fruit peels and cores from apples and pears to make jelly. You will need approximately 6 apples/pears worth of peels and cores, 17 oz. water, one lemon skin and sugar. Wash the fruit peels and boil them for 30 minutes. Let them drain in a colander for a couple of hours. Weight the sluice and add the same weight of sugar. Boil the mixture for 10 minutes. It should look like sugar syrup with lots of bubbles. Sift the unwanted solids. Pour in a jar and let it cool overnight.
My last advice
Never throw away any leftover fruit peels since you might be wasting precious resources. Learn how to become frugal and use these fruit peels. There are various ways you can use them, from making organic kitchen cleaners to making potpourri. Always look on the internet for ways to repurpose your leftover fruit peels. And as a final word: avoid using fruit peels from fruit that has been sprayed with chemicals.
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