New Uses for Produce

Their peels can heal. Their juice can soothe. Find out what else your fruits and veggies can do.

Photo: Getty Images

Get inspired by these new uses for apples, lemons, tomatoes, and more.

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Newspaper as Refrigerator Odor Absorber

Newspaper as Odor Absorber
Photos: Erica McCartney; Styling: Linden Elstran

Absorb odors in the refrigerator's vegetable drawer with a lining of newspaper.

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Drink Holder as Fruit Protector

Drink holder as fruit cushion
John Lawton; Styling: Linden Elstran

Rough commute? Slide a drink cooler over an apple to keep it from bruising in your lunch tote.

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Banana Peel as Rose Fertilizer

Banana peel with soil and yellow roses
Beatriz Da Costa

Just flatten a banana peel and bury it under one inch of soil at the base of a rosebush. The peel's potassium feeds the plant and helps it resist disease. Consider it a nutritional boost for you and your buds.

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Bubble Wrap as Produce Protection

Produce wrapped in bubble wrap
Kate Sears

Use bubble wrap to save fruit and vegetables from bumps and bruises. Cut a piece to fit into the bottom of the refrigerator drawer as a pillow for your produce. Say goodbye to squished squashes or mushy mangoes.

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Bundt Pan as Corn Holder

Corn on the cob upright in an angel food cake pan
Aya Brackett

Cut corn from the cob without the mess. Place an ear in the center of a Bundt pan. As you slide the knife down, the corn will fall right into the pan.

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Citrus Peels as Bowls

Citrus peel as ice cream bowl
Yunhee Kim

Serve sorbet in a memorable way. After juicing (or eating) grapefruit, orange, lemon, or lime halves, scoop out and freeze the peels. Cut a small slice off the bottom to create a level surface (without creating a hole), then fill with ice cream.

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Citrus Peel as Firestarter

Citrus peels with firewood and matches
Aya Brackett

Kick-start a fire with citrus peels. Leave orange or lemon peels on the counter for several days to dry out. Then use the pretty pieces as kindling in your fire pit or bonfire for a fragrant flame starter.

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Egg Slicer as Mushroom Chopper

Egg slicer slicing a mushroom
Tria Giovan

Cut mushrooms into neat slivers, all without a cutting board to clean.

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Egg Slicer as Strawberry Dicer

Egg slicer slicing a strawberry
Dana Gallagher

Give this classic tool a permanent spot on your kitchen counter and―presto!―you'll have perfect slivers of your favorite summer foods.

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Apple as Tomato Ripener

Apple used to ripen tomatoes
Thayer Allyson Gowdy

To ripen tomatoes in half the time, place them in a bowl with an apple or two and cover it with plastic wrap.

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Citrus Peel as Coffee Mug Cleaner

Citrus peel used to remove coffee and tea stains
Lucas Allen

Remove coffee or tea stains from a mug by rubbing them with a lightly salted citrus peel.

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Citrus Peel as Garbage Disposal Deodorizer

Citrus peel used to deodorize garbage pail
James Baigrie

Keep your disposal smelling fresh by dropping a few peels down the drain and flipping the switch.

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Citrus Peel as Brown Sugar Softener

Citrus peel used tokeep brown sugar moist
Tria Giovan

Avoid rock-hard brown sugar and preserve the moisture by dropping a three inch-long orange peel into the bag.

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Ginger Root as Burn Soother

Ginger root used to soothe burns
Beth Galton

Soothe blisters and burns by applying fresh ginger juice directly to the sore spots.

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Lemon as Laundry Brightener

Lemon used to brighten whites
Antonis Achilleos

Skip the bleach—add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of lemon juice to the wash cycle to brighter up those fading whites.

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Lemon as Sore Throat Soother

Lemon used to relieve a sore throat
Charles Maraia

Relieve a sore throat. Cut a lemon in half. Skewer one half over a medium flame on a gas stove or an electric burner set on high and roast until the peel turns golden brown. Let cool slightly, then mix the juice with 1 teaspoon of honey. Swallow the mixture.

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Lemon as Hair Lightener

Lemon used to lighten hair
Antonis Achilleos

For subtle highlights in blond hair, simmer two sliced lemons in water for one hour (add more water if needed). Strain, then pour into a spray bottle.

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Lemon as Grater Cleaner

Lemon used to clean cheese from grater
James Baigrie

After shredding soft cheese or other sticky foods, go over both sides of the grater with the pulp side of a cut lemon to get rid of any residue.

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Lemon as Browning Preventer

Lemon used to stop apples and pears from browning
James Baigrie

Stop apples and pears from browning by squeezing a little lemon juice over them.

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Lemon as Table Decoration

Lemons used as decoration
Maura McEvoy

Decorate on the cheap. Fill a glass bowl with lemons for a sunny centerpiece. Or display a row of them along a windowsill.

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Lemon as Toothpick Collector

Lemon used to collect toothpicks
Annie Schlechter

Collect used toothpicks at a party so you don't end up with them all over your tables, seats, and floors. (Stick one in the lemon ahead of time to give guests the hint.)

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Onion as Basement Deodorizer

Onoin used as deodorizer
James Baigrie

Clear the air in a dank basement. Cut an onion in half, place it on a plate, and leave it out overnight. Once the initial salad-bar aroma dissipates, you'll have a fresh (non-oniony) atmosphere.

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Oranges as Mini Snowman

Orange snowman
Annie Schlechter

Build snowmen without bundling up. For a holiday party, give each child three oranges, some toothpicks, a sturdy plate, and store-bought frosting. Stick the large orange to the center of the plate with a dollop of frosting. Poke a few toothpicks halfway into the top of the fruit and spear a smaller orange on top. Repeat with the third orange, and layer on frosting, a vanilla wafer, and peppermints to make a hat. Use candy-cane pieces for arms and a nose, cloves for the eyes, and red licorice for a scarf.

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Salt as Salad Wash

Salt used to clean vegetables
Antonis Achilleos

Clean dirt from leafy vegetables by washing them in a bath of salt water.

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Lemon as Cutting Board Cleaner

Woman cleaning a cutting board with lemon
Rick Lew

To remove tough food stains from light wood and plastic cutting boards, slice a lemon in half, squeeze onto the soiled surface, rub, and let sit for 20 minutes before rinsing. The best part? You'll have a house that smells like a lemon grove rather than chemicals.

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Lettuce Leaf as Taco Liner

Taco shells lined with lettuce
Monica Buck

Keep taco fillings contained, even if the shell breaks. Line an empty taco shell with a lettuce leaf, then pile on all the meat, cheese, and pico de gallo your heart desires.

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Toothbrush as Corn Cleaner

Toothbrush removing corn silk
James Baigrie

Use a clean toothbrush to remove stray threads of silk from freshly shucked ears of corn. The bristles will lift them away quickly and efficiently.

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Citrus Peel Hacks

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