I like to experiment with byproducts of produce to reduce waste. Potato peels are endlessly useful!
Potato Peel Uses That Will Shock and Inspire You
What if I told you that you could use potato peelings to cover up grey hair, clean the fireplace, make alcohol, and much more?
That's right: the skin of the humble spud can play a starring role in your kitchen and home. Next time you peel potatoes, I challenge you to save all those potato peels from the trash can.
They're just as useful and versatile as the intact potatoes themselves, and there are some amazing potato peel uses that will surprise you.
Now it's time to share all the great ideas and recipes I've discovered in my quest to save potato peels from the scrap heap.
Read on for some easy, frugal and fun projects you can use potato peels for.
1. Use Potato Peels Instead of Breadcrumbs
If you're making fish cakes, meatballs, croquettes or other dishes that require breadcrumbs, you can sub in potato peels.
Simply replace the breadcrumbs in the recipe with the potato peel preparation (see below), in a ratio of one to one. They have the same binding properties, with the added benefit of being gluten-free.
To prepare, put the peels in a food processor, and process until you get pieces the size of rolled oats. Keep an eye on the peels - processing for too long will give you a sticky mess!
2. Season Cast-Iron or Carbon Steel Cookware
Cast iron and carbon steel (also known as black iron) cookware need to be seasoned before use and whenever their seasoning has been scrubbed off worn down. This helps build up an oil-based 'patina' on their surface, making them non-stick.
Many professional chefs as well as amateur cooks and cast-iron junkies love using potato peels to season their pans and dutch ovens. Simply boil the peelings for a few minutes before proceeding to the stage where you grease and heat up the pan. The starchy peels bind to any grime or dirt in the pan, giving it an efficient clean before building up the patina with grease.
Got a new set of pans recently, or need to refurbish old ones? Follow these directions to season using potato peels and you'll be ready to cook in no time.
(Note: the linked article is written for De Buyer pans but the instructions are suitable for any carbon steel or cast iron cookware.)
Read More From Delishably
3. Hide Grey Hair
If you're anything like me, you've started noticing a few grey hairs but are hesitant to use toxic and expensive chemical products to dye them. If you're looking for a natural, eco-friendly and frugal hair-dying solution you're in luck!
If you are blonde, potato peels can highlight the grey hairs and make the overall colour look more uniform. Brunettes will find that potato peels darken the greys and therefore hide them.
Potato peels have been used for a long time as a way to eliminate grey hair; try this easy home remedy and see the effects for yourself.
To make your potato peel treatment for grey hair:
- Peel two large potatoes, and put the peels in a saucepan full of water.
- Simmer for 20 minutes, remove the peelings then let cool completely.
- Use after every shampoo as a hair rinse.
4. Potato Milk Jam
Everyone loves dulce de leche - the delicious caramelised treat made by slowly cooking milk with sugar. This version uses potato peels, although the final product doesn't taste like potatoes. It just tastes like a wonderful, earthy caramel sauce. Try it and see!
5. Get Rid of Warts Naturally
An old folk remedy for plantar warts involves rubbing potato peels (or a slice of raw potato) on the wart or taping it on to the skin using a bandage.
Traditions vary - some advise to bury the used potato peel in the garden, while others recommend saying a short poem whilst doing the treatment.
Whilst this tradition may seem a bit wacky, many people have reported success with it, so it can't hurt to try.
6. DIY Invisible Ink
Make your very own invisible ink to send secret messages to friends or teach children about chemistry. This is a fantastic activity for homeschoolers.
Simmer your leftover potato peels in a small saucepan of water for around 10 to 15 mins. Let cool completely.
You should notice a part of the water that is white and cloudy - this is the starch, settling at the bottom of the saucepan. Dip a matchstick or cotton bud into this part of the water.
Now write your secret message!
To reveal the writing, dilute some liquid iodine with water in a ratio of 50:50 (an adult needs to do this - iodine isn't safe for children) and brush it onto the paper. Your message should be revealed.
7. Make Gourmet Mashed Potatoes
World famous Chef Heston Blumenthal uses discarded potato peels to infuse a strong potato flavour into his mash. Rather than throw them out, the peels play an important role in his recipe, which uses these scraps in a unique way.
Check out this recipe with step-by-step photos to make mashed potatoes like a top chef.
8. Use Potato Peels in Your Beauty Regime
Potato peels can be used to whiten and brighten skin, and are a great natural edition to your beauty regime. You can either use potato peels fresh off the potato, or crush them to make a paste. These methods are folklore and I cannot personally attest to them working, though all are safe for at home experimentation if you aren't allergic to potatoes.
- If you have an uneven or blotchy skin tone, rub potato peels on the problem area every day and see the results.
- Apply a paste of crushed peels to dark underarms to lighten them
- Traditionally, women rubbed the peels on their faces to reduce wrinkles
- Do you have dark bags under your eyes? Apply a mask of crushed peels and rinse off after 20 minutes
- Get rid of acne using a face mask of crushed potato peels
Bonus: Potato Peeling Trick With Dawn Wells
This is such a great technique for peeling potatoes - without using a potato peeler! Watch below!
9. Add to Compost and Worm Farms
If you didn't know already, potato peels should never be put in a garbage disposal system - their starchiness turns them into glue and can seriously clog things up. Don't even try unless you like paying expensive plumber's fees.
Your best bet is to add them to a compost pile. Lots of people think that potato peels should never be composted because they will sprout. This isn't an issue, though. The peelings are thin enough and the temperature in the compost heap is hot enough to decompose them quickly.
Worms also love the delicious decomposed matter that results from potato peelings, so feel free to add them to your worm farm (starting a worm farm is easy and a great educational activity for kids).
10. Crispy Potato Peelings as a Snack
Potato peels are already thinly sliced and thus the perfect candidates for home made crisps, crackers and fries. If your favourite part of roast potatoes is the skin, you're in for a treat with these.
The options are endless: coat the peels with olive salt, salt and pepper, cheese, herbs, duck fat, paprika, garlic, or anything you fancy and bake them at 375°F until crispy (this takes 10 to 15 minutes). You can also deep fry them until golden and serve sprinkled with parmesan cheese, or as dippers with a sauce or dip.
Once baked or fried until crispy, you can cut the peels up into small pieces and use as you would croutons - in a salad or soup. A fantastic gluten-free alternative that's just as tasty as the original.
11. Make Vegetable Stock and Potato Peel Soup
I can't be the only one that loves sipping on the water used to boil potatoes in. The rich, earthy taste is so comforting, and full of nutrients.
Take your potato peels and boil them for around 10 minutes. You can now simply drink this broth (with salt and pepper to taste).
If you'd like to make a nice vegetable broth, gather some other vegetable scraps - carrot peel, celery leaves and onion peels are good - and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add salt to taste and voila! If you don't have the time or ingredients to make the broth straight away, just freeze the potato peels or potato peel water to use later. It defrosts well.
To make a potato peel soup, add an onion and a couple of cloves of garlic to your potato peels. Simmer about 15 minutes, then cool slightly and blend the soup in a blender. Put back on a low heat, and add some heavy cream, salt to taste and lots of freshly cracked pepper. Yum!
12. Brew Your Own Alcohol
Home brewers will love this easy way to make potato alcohol. Rather than using potatoes specially bought for the project, this recipe uses potato skins that would otherwise be thrown away.
To make your very own potato alcohol, you'll need 1 lb of potato peels, 1/3 lb molasses, and 1/4 lb of yeast. Get yourself a food-grade 4-liter bucket and you're ready to make the recipe!
13. Make Potato Flour or Starch
"Rasp the potatoes into a tub of cold water and change it repeatedly until the raspings fall to the bottom like paste; then dry it in the air, pound it in a mortar, and pass it through a hair sieve. It is nearly as nutritive, and much lighter, than wheaten flour; it is, therefore, preferable for making puddings and pastry for infants and invalids; a portion of it also improves the appearance of household bread, and dealers constantly pass it off as arrowroot. If kept dry, it will remain good for years." -excerpt from A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove: A History of American Women Told Through Food, Recipes, and Remembrances
Although today's cooks aren't used to following the above directions to make their own potato flour, it can still be done in the modern kitchen. Potato flour has many uses - everything from thickening sauces to lightening baked goods. Being easy to digest and full of nutrients, it's a handy thing to have around.
Of course, you can easily buy potato flour, but making it yourself is fun, interesting and a learning experience. It would be a great educational activity for homeschoolers or school teachers to help children learn about starch and get in touch with traditional methods of food preparation.
It's easy to make your own potato flour or starch at home. Just chop the peels up in a food processor first.
The starchy potato flour makes this sponge extra light - not to mention gluten-free.
14. Clean Out Your Fireplace
If you have a fireplace that's dirty, dusty and covered in layers of old ash, use potato peelings to to clean it out. It's cheap, natural and very effective. You'll need to dry your peels first, by putting them in a well-ventilated area for 48 hours.
Once the fireplace and chimney are clean, try lighting your next fire with more dried peelings. It works just as well as those chemical-filled fire starters, without the toxic fumes and bad smell.
15. Potato Peel Pie
If you haven't yet heard of the best selling book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, you've been living under a rock. This fabulous novel focuses on the lives of the inhabitants of Guernsey, an island under German occupation during WWII. The inspiring positive attitudes and team spirits of the Guernsey people even through hardship makes it a real treat to read.
What's more, the book offers a rare glimpse into life at the end of the war and the way people made do with very little. The invention of the potato peel pie is one example of this resourcefulness.
While the original recipe doesn't sound appealing at all, creative chefs have taken the idea and adapted it to modern tastes and ingredients. Check out a delicious adaptation of this frugal recipe wartime below.
16. Gluten-Free Flatbread
Potato peels are starchy, and when blended become the perfect binding base for flatbread - no wheat flour required.
Serve warm with any toppings you like, such as sauté vegetables, cheese, fried egg or leftover meats.
To make, add:
- Two cups of potato peels in the food processor and chop until fine - they should reach the texture of fine mulch.
- Toss with a tablespoon of salt, and leave in a sieve for 20 minutes over the sink or a bowl.
- Squeeze out the mixture, until there is no moisture left. Transfer to a bowl, and mix in two beaten eggs and 1/4 cup rice or arrowroot flour.
- Press into a greased baking tray, and bake at 425°F for around 15 minutes.
- Brush with melted butter, and continue baking for another 7 minutes until the edges are crisp, and the bread is firm.
17. Potato Peel Art
Nearly everyone has made a stamp using potato halves. But what about using the peels for crafting, too?
To make simple potato peel stencils, gather the peels of several peeled potatoes. Either use the peels as they are, or modify their shapes using scissors. You can use a hole punch to put holes along the peels (this would make a great caterpillar stencil), or cut zig-zag edges.
Now, place the peels on a piece of paper, and use paint, spray paint, or glue and glitter to decorate over and around the stencils.
Remove the peels, and let the paint dry. Voila! Frugal and natural stencils without spending a cent.
18. Potato Peel Dressing for Burn Wounds
Potato peels as burn dressing have been a natural home remedy for a long time. You can find several personal testimonies of its effectiveness, saying that it reduced the redness and burning considerably.
But you may be interested to know that science backs up this easy and natural cure. Researchers have discovered that potato peel dressings can be even more effective than other remedies.
One study even argues that due to potato peels' availability and low cost, its use should be encouraged in developing countries, rather than using expensive medical supplies.
Of course, the potato peel method should be used carefully, and never for very severe or deep wounds. But there's no harm in keeping a couple of spuds around for a bit of relief.
To make a potato peel dressing, either apply the peelings directly to the skin and fasten with a cloth bandage, or crush using a mortar and pestle and apply directly to the skin before putting a bandage on top.
19. Make Potato Water
The leftover water you get when you boil potatoes or potato peels is a useful ingredient in its own right.
Added to gravies, sauces, soups and broths it gives an earthy flavour and the thickening properties of starch to whatever it's used in. A traditional addition to baked goods, the gluten in potato water helps bread rise, cakes stay soft and gives bread rolls extra flavour. It's wonderful for watering plants, soaking tarnished silverware in or washing skin. And you can sprinkle it onto dry dog food to give some extra nutrition to your pet.
To make potato water from your leftover peels, simply boil them for 10 minutes in a pot of water. Remove the peelings, and throw in the compost, then let the water cool before using in recipes.
Potato Water in Use
While Ma made the gravy Laura mashed the potatoes. There was no milk but Ma said, 'Leave a very little of the boiling water in, and after you mash them beat them extra hard with a big spoon.' The potatoes turned out white a fluffy . . . .
— Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Long Winter (Little House on the Prairie)
20. Potato Peel Gratin
Use those leftover peels to make a creamy, crispy gratin. If you're already peeling potatoes for another dish, save the peels for this decadent and comforting recipe.
It uses easy to find ingredients that you probably already have on and - eggs, cream and sharp cheese transform those potato peelings into something amazing.