How to use leftover fruit peels to make homemade jelly in under an hour

Guest post by Audrey
Jam canning labels from here

As a person trying to eat better, consume better, and waste less, I am always saddened to throw away perfectly good food unfortunately considered irrelevant in my French culture: fruit and vegetable peels.

Let’s face it, you can eat unpeeled fruits and vegetables… but once they’re peeled, peels become shameful and must be discarded ASAP.

I guess this is since people of yore used to feed their pigs and chickens peels, so they retain this image as trash. I am fighting to avoid useless waste!

While I am struggling to find some use for veggie peels besides soup, I’ve found a yummy use for fruit peels that allows you to kill two birds with one stone: you can have your pie (or stewed fruits/apple crisp/whatever) and jelly!

When you cook fruits, you usually peel them. I’ve tried stewed unskinned apples, but honestly, it’s not that great.

So you’re left with perfectly edible apple peels full of pectin — which happens to be the substance that makes jellies and marmalade sticky. Cooking your own jelly might be a bit long, but it’s so worth it.

Supplies needed to make 400g jar of jelly (about 14 ounces)

  • Approximately 5-6 apples’ worth of peels (and cores)
  • Approximately 50 cL (17 fl oz) water
  • One lemon skin
  • Caster sugar

How to make jelly from leftover fruit peels

  1. Wash the peels and boil them for 30 minutes. Let drain in a colander for a couple of hours.
  2. Weigh this sluice, and add the same weight of sugar and boil the mixture for 10 minutes. The texture should be that of sugar syrup, with lots of bubbles. Sift if there are unwanted solids.
  3. Put in a jar, cool for a night and…
  4. Om-nom-nom-nom Voilà ! Delicious jelly!

Tips for making jelly from discarded fruit peels

  • Be sure to wash the peels properly if the fruits were not organically grown.
  • You might have some trial and error with your quantity of water — in order to find the right balance between gooey jelly and Turkish Delight-like stuff. In the final step, try adding water and sugar a little at a time if you think you’ll be left with too little juice.
  • Unless you want really solid jelly, don’t cool it in the refrigerator. The fridge is fine after the initial cooling period.
  • Try other flavors! I love adding strawberry leaves and a bit of flesh to the mix for a strawberry jelly. You could flavor it with any edible fruit peels, as long as you have either apple or citrus peels in the mix, as they have the pectin you need.

Comments on How to use leftover fruit peels to make homemade jelly in under an hour

  1. Wow, that sounds fantastically simple. One quick question, how big (ideally in grammes or pounds and ounces) is “a jar”? I know how big my English jars are (around 450 g/1 lb) but I have no idea if the USA has a similar sized standard jar! 🙂

    • Very good question indeed! My French jars are 400 g, so this could correspond to your English jars! You can try adding one more peel.
      (And yes, it is extremely simple 🙂

      • Thanks Audrey! I have to confess, I didn’t even think to read your writer biography and just assumed you were inthe USA 😳

  2. Neat! I wonder how you can crockpot this?

    I’m a locavore in NY, so I feel guilty wasting any part of citrus fruit that comes into the house. (We have kids, whom I can’t refuse variety, so we get some from time to time.) So I’ve given this a fair bit of thought, too.

    Other uses for citrus peel:
    – facial steams
    – simmer it to scent the house
    – remove the pith and use the zest for flavoring desserts and other foods
    – I believe peels or zests are what extracts are made from, too
    – I also cut them into strips to make my own poutpourri come Christmastime. We have a spruce tree that yields lots of teensy pinecones, which orange and other citrus peel add color to for this project.

    • When you juice a lemon (and other citrus fruits, I would guess), you can use the pithy side to shine any stainless steel you have in your house, too.

    • Citrus peel can also be candied! Although most of my fruit and vegetable peelings go into compost or making stock.

        • Where were you ladies when I was eating a grapefruit yesterday! *sigh* So many wonderful ideas! Will keep them in mind for next time…

  3. I love this idea! Most of our veggie scraps go to our pet rabbit, and later (when we actually have something other than sand in our garden) we’re planning a compost bin, but home made apple jam would be great for presents!

  4. What about using veggie peels to make homemade veggie stock? Would that work?

    • yes! we save all of our (washed) veg peels and ends, put them in a bag in our freezer and stick them in our crock pot with water when we have enough. makes some tasty veg stock!

  5. If you make sure you scrub the vegetables well first, you can use root veg peelings for crisps (chips). Just pat the peelings dry then lay on a baking sheet. Lightly spray with oil and season if you want then bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. They taste delicious and are much better for you than shop bought ones.

  6. For making this jam, is this something that could be canned in a water-bath? If so, anyone have any idea how long it would take for safe processing?

    • YES! We water-bathed it. I can’t remember the length of time, but it was part of the directions on the pectin Kyle bought.

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