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Chef reveals the surprising reasons why you should never throw out lemons — even after you use them

"Every part of a lemon has a purpose."

"Every part of a lemon has a purpose."

Photo Credit: TikTok

When life gives you lemons, you can always make lemonade. Or you could do tons of other nifty things with them, as TikTok chef Matt (@morocooks) showed viewers in a viral video.

Instead of throwing out used lemons, Matt suggested repurposing them to make homemade cleaners, candies, syrups, and more.

The scoop

To "get more food out of your food," as Matt said, it's important to use as much of it as possible. 

"Every part of a lemon has a purpose," he said. 

One of the most popular things to do with lemons is grate the outermost portion of the peel to make lemon zest. You can add this to savory and sweet dishes for extra zing. And, of course, you can squeeze lemons to make lemonade, purees, dressings, sauces, cocktails, or about a million other things. 

Once you've squeezed the lemons, you can make delicious homemade candy with the lemon peels. You only need two cups of water, two cups of white sugar, and three lemon peels cut into thin strips. After cooking and straining the peels, you can use the leftover syrup for cocktails, desserts, or other recipes. 

Matt suggested freezing any remaining lemon pulp in ice cube trays to make smoothies (make sure to add something sweet to counteract the tartness). 

But if you're not feeling hungry, you can also make a non-toxic cleaner with leftover lemons. Cut them into small pieces, put them in a spray bottle, and add half a cup of white vinegar. Fill the rest of the bottle with water. 

"Lemons have natural antiseptic properties, and they smell nice, which makes for a great all-natural, all-purpose cleaning spray," he said. 


Lemons! Limes! Oranges! You can do this with pretty much all citrus! Candied Lemon Peel 2 cups water 2 cups white sugar The peels of 3 lemons

♬ original sound - matt | morocooks

How it's helping

While lemons aren't that expensive, costing roughly $2 per pound, that can quickly add up if you buy a lot. It gets even pricier if you go to a store to buy lemonade, lemon zest, other foods or drinks with lemon, or lemon-based cleaners. Making all these at home will keep more money in your wallet and save you time at the market.

Plus, food waste is a huge problem worldwide, with 30-40% of the food supply being squandered in America alone. 

All that food waste ends up in landfills, where it breaks down and produces a powerful toxic gas called methane. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 58% of methane pollution from landfills comes from wasted food. 

Recycle Track Systems reported that the process of producing and transporting food that gets thrown out sacrifices vital resources and contributes to 11% of the world's pollution from heat-trapping gases. 

So, you can save money and the planet by getting creative with your leftover lemons. And you can never go wrong with a good old-fashioned lemon cake.

What everyone's saying

Commenters loved all the ideas and couldn't wait to channel their inner chefs.

"The candied peels sound so good, I'm definitely gonna have to try that," one person said.

"YASSSS thank you. I just picked 42 lemons from my tree and didn't know what to do with them all!!!!" another said, adding a heart-eyed emoji.

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