Fruit peelings frequently get tossed out with the trash or added to the compost pile. But edible peels contain vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and fiber -- sometimes even more than the fruit's flesh. Used purposefully, peelings can provide flavor and add nutrition to many different dishes. While it’s always important to wash fruit before you eat it, it’s even more important when you eat the peel, which can retain the largest concentration of dirt and chemicals.
It's common to eat the skin of pome fruits, such as apples, pears and quince. The thin peels boost the flavor of many foods, such as muffins and smoothies. You can brew the peels for tea. Apple peelings are also a natural source of pectin, the substance that thickens jellies and jams.
Citrus fruits, such as lemons and limes, are used throughout the world for their acidic flesh. You can also eat the outer rind, or colored portion of the peel, although the pith, or white layer between the rind and fruit, is bitter and inedible. Citrus peels can be added fresh as zest, the finely grated outer rind, or dried and candied for use in food and drinks such as marmalade and tea. They add a zesty twist to everything from cheesecake to cider. Citrus fruits include lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits, tangelos and tangerines.
Watermelon rinds can be pickled to give them a pleasant flavor and crunch. Peel off the colored outer skin and soak the inner rind in brine to pickle it. You can enjoy the pickled rind alone or pair it with other ingredients, such as in a salad.
Stone fruits such as peaches have flesh that surrounds a single large seed. The skins on stone fruits are thin and edible, with a flavor that is either slightly tart or sometimes imperceptible. Though the skin typically gets eaten with the flesh when the fruit is consumed whole, the peelings get discarded in many jam and canning recipes. However, leaving the peelings on adds a flavorful boost of nutrients to the dish.
Stone fruits include peaches, apricots, nectarines, plums, mangoes and cherries. There are many ways to prepare skin-on stone fruits, from grilled for a sweet dessert to blended for a healthy smoothie. Tasty dishes that use the fruit with the skin on include salsas, marmalade, breads and pies.
Many fruits have edible peelings that are thrown away due to taste and texture rather than safety concerns. For example, banana peels are safe to eat but rarely consumed due to their taste and texture. You can also eat the peelings of kiwi and papaya, although they're often discarded because of their texture.
Fruits with truly inedible peelings include pomegranates and pineapples.