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10 Good Reasons To Save Those Onion and Garlic Skins

Before you toss those papery onion and garlic skins, see all the things they can do: from hair dye to an athlete's foot remedy, this list will surprise you!

You have probably heard of “root-to-stem” cooking, where no part of the vegetable goes to waste. Most of us have been doing that for years, in fact, in your grandmother’s day, it would be unthinkable to toss any part of a vegetable–everything was used.

Here at Farmers’ Almanac, we’ve been sharing “waste not, want not” ideas for generations, including the benefits of saving vegetable peelings. But what about the peels of onions and garlic, which we usually toss in the trash? Can you really utilize those? Turns out, you can!

Why Save The Skins?

Onions and garlic are possibly the most widely used vegetables in all world cuisines. But most of us throw away their outer skins and peels. That papery covering may seem like just throw-away packaging, but you’ll be surprised to learn they are actually nutrient dense and have a several household uses as well.

Plants are stationary by nature, producing everything they need to defend, protect, and heal themselves. Therefore, it makes sense that plants would concentrate many of their protective properties in the outer coverings where most environmental attacks take place.

The outer skins of onion and garlic provide an excellent source of vitamins A, C, E, and numerous antioxidants. The skins of onions are also a rich source of flavonoids, particularly quercetin, a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.

Peeling garlic removes the phenylpropanoid antioxidants which protects the heart and helps to fight the aging process along with helping to boost immunity and lower cholesterol. Don’t be surprised when you start seeing garlic skins in health products on the market!

Important Note: To maximize health benefits of onions and garlic, use organic whenever possible to avoid ingesting pesticides sprayed on the outer layers of conventionally grown vegetables.

10 Uses For Onion and Garlic Skins

onion and onion peels

1. Add Extra Nutrition to Soups and Stews.

Onion and garlic skins can be used to add extra nutrition to soups, stews, and when making bone broth or stock.  Strain the papery skins out afterward.

2. Better Roasting

Keep the skins on your garlic when you roast them. The protective layer keeps your garlic soft inside while adding the healthy nutrients listed above.

3. Nutritious Rice

Mix in some onion skins when cooking rice to add extra vitamins. Make sure to let them steep as the rice cooks. Simply remove the skins after cooking.

4. Mix Into Bread

Add one teaspoon of ground onion skin (a mortar and pestle work well to grind) to your homemade bread dough to add mild flavor and nutrients.

5. Relieve Muscle Cramps

Sports injury - Sprained ankle

Boil onion skins for 10-20 minutes making an infusion. Drain the skins from the water and drink it as a tea before bed to help relieve muscle cramps.

6. Induce Sleep

As a natural sleep aid, brew up a cup of onion skin tea. Simply pour boiling water over several onion skins, cover and let soak for fifteen minutes. Strain the tea (or use a tea ball) and enjoy.

7. Add Nutrients to Compost

Garlic and onion skins are great way to add nutrients to your compost pile.

8. Easter Egg or Wool and Fabric Dye

Wool - dyed colors

Use red onion skins to dye Easter eggs. You can also use brown or red skins to dye fabric, thread, or wool. Learn how it’s done here!

9. Hair Dye

Hair - Carrier oil

Onion skins also make a great hair dye, turning it a beautiful golden brown. Simply add onion skins to a pot of water and boil for 30-60 minutes. Let cool overnight, then strain and pour over clean hair. Leave in for 30 minutes, then rinse.

10. Alleviate Itchy Skin

Onion and garlic skins have anti-fungal properties that make them effective at relieving itchy skin problems, including athlete’s foot. Apply onion-infused water to your skin for relief.

Can’t use them now? Freeze them! Simply store skins in a plastic bag or freezer-safe container and freeze them for later use.

Natalie LaVolpe is a freelance writer and former special education teacher. She is dedicated to healthy living through body and mind. She currently resides on Long Island, New York, with her husband, children and dog.

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Wisconsia march

Thanks so much for this information, is it safe to drink while breastfeeding.

Ben obadimeji

Very effective and resilient home remedy..

Fatou

Thanks very much for this vital information about onions and garlic skin

Keisha kwagala

Gonna start using this from today. Thanks for educating me and my family members. God bless us all 🙏🙏🇺🇬

Success

Thanks for sharing, this info. was very helpful.

Carey

Yellow onion skin tea has been a go-to family remedy for menstrual cramps for generations. I recall my sister and I hating the flavor and using honey and a bit of ginger to make it more palatable, but we kept going back to it despite the flavor because it worked.

Gigi

Onion skins are great to color hard boiled eggs and also give them a nice flavor.

They come out purple, it’s pretty cool! I had a friend who did her eggs every year with onion skins.

angela conifer

can you keep garlic skin tea in the fridge for a couple of days and can you freeze garlic skin tea?

Bekka

I love drinking a cup
Of onion skin tea at night- helps me stay asleep. I’ve been drinking this tea for 3 or 4 months now. It has no taste , just like water . I’m hooked on this tea!
Wish the US sold bags of onion skins in the market so I can buy them instead of buying onions and storing the skins in the freezer .

Mark

Onion skin tea is available in 100 gram bags on Amazon. The product is produced in and shipped from Japan. I use it regularly when I don’t have enough onion skins, which is often.

Jisun

Hi, my mother sent me a bag of garlic skins and told me to soak in water & white vinegar for a while before using them to make tea. Will vinegar destroy any nutrients in the skin?

Devayani Tirthali

Onion skins generally have black mold -Aspergillus niger – how does that work when cooking?
Do we wash it? or it dies when we boil it?

Arundhati Kumar

This is fabulous!! Thanks for putting out this information on the net. We definitely need it in today’s world. Pls keep giving us such gems of info so we can go ‘back to nature’ so to say. Thank you once again!

Bilquees Adekoya

The site is very educative!

Batoul

Thank you so much for the enlightenment. So please tell me how to use them for cold and cough

Modi

garlic and lemon are both anti viral, great for fighting off colds, even covid

M k Byrapur

Dry roast garlic with skin lightly and crush/paste in pounding pot add honey lightly eat raw after half an hour within 9pm or earlier in night drink mild hot milk or water see good results assured do this alternative days you win with cough cold fever hypertension severe paltipation etc thanks

Doris

Hi Susan, how long does the onion leave dye takes on ones hair. Do you rinse with warm water or cold. Also is it advisable to use when you have black hair, is it not going to give 2 colours, or may be when hair is black it turns it to black? My question is because i read that it turn the hair to nice golden brown.

GARY D MCMULLEN

Does anyone know why my grandparents saved the onion skins and burned them? I don’t know how often or what time of year. Abt 60 yrs ago

Ososanya Adebowale Mrs.

I am glad tonight for this great information on Onion skin and its usefulness. It is great.

Ben David

Good one

Bisi

I love this article it really make my day, thank you so much

Gabriel Kinga

Thanks for your excellent messages for our well being

Rose

Thanks for the information, the onion skins color my gray hair, keep away the ants in my kitchen, keep my garden looking good.

Thank God for his creation

Clandestein Colebrooke

In April 2019 had a mild stroke. doctors place me on 5 different BP pills, they couldn’t find none to regulate it. Untill I learned about onions skin.h ere is my testimonialI,I used onion skins for 4 months now and my body feels new no more bad feeling in my head,sleep like a baby,m post of all pressure under control

Virginia

Can I ask, how do you use the onion skins?

Carl Dworman

Great article.
Stores in the USA sell the onions with the skins.
Stores in Mexico sell only peeled onions. Makes a great display.
Now I know what they do with the skins.

Onion tea anybody?

Eddie Blash

Thanks for the information on the onion skins and garlic skins. I will gladly try it.

Adrien

Terrific information. Thank you so much. I collect my onion skins for dying fabric and homemade paper. May I ask, is there any particular reason to freeze them? I just keep them in a bag or jar.

dagmar kern

[email protected]
I have been using my“onion tea“ every morning In cup with hot herbal tea and fresh lemon as anti-oxidant! I am a medical Esthetician and discovered :
it might be the best anti-oxidant when used 2 times a day as a toner before using peptides or cream!!!!

barb

Hi! Can I wash the onion skin before boiling them? Some onion skins are pretty muddy… pls. advise. Thank you.

maher

it is wonderful

UCHECHI

Thanks, have started using it already.

Dianne Hardison

Thank you for the information. So, so helpful. I looked this up due to talking with a Native American co-worker this morning. She is the one that peaked my interest. You actually verified exactly what she had said. Her grandmother lived until the young age of 99 (deceased now) is the one that passed it to her. Thank you again. Awesome information.

Moonshinephilly

Thank you for all the great suggestions. I had no idea of any of these. However it makes perfect sense. Thank you again.

Ellen

As a tea infusion for sleep or muscle cramps, how many onion skins?

mochtar

hi,

i’m interest with skin garlic use article, thak you

bruce

I don’t peel garlic or onion anymore when I lacto-fermente it.when you throw the skin away you’re throwing away bacteria you’re trying to create when you lacto ferment. After lacto-fermentation if you take a garlic clove and pinched it the skin slides off making it easier I’m trying to peel it. Now you’re not standing there trying to peel a half pint or a quart or 5 gallon of garlic.if a piece of garlic floats up to the top of the liquid and exposes itself to air bacteria won’t grow because you have the damp skin on the garlic being exposed to the air inside the jar. The skin acts like a wick to keep the exposed portion moist to prevent bacteria from growing.and I know my garlic is fermenting because I see some of them that have turned green with the skin still on so put your paring knife away and have some fun…

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