Fruit Enzyme Cleaners
When I first heard about fruit enzyme cleaners, I was immediately hooked. Anything you can make at home, using ingredients you already have in the kitchen, requiring little to no effort, is my kind of project. What makes them even better is how the key ingredient is something we’d usually throw out – fruit peels. If you’re not big on composting, this is another simple way to redirect some of your kitchen scraps away from landfills!
Fruit enzyme cleaners are natural, multi-purpose, eco-friendly cleaners – a cheap and effective alternative to the harsh chemicals we encounter in our everyday life. Many products like floor cleaners, dish washing detergents, and bleach etc. contain toxic chemicals which are harmful to our health and environment. Whilst it may be nigh impossible to keep chemicals out of our homes completely, we can reduce our reliance on them with some effort.
What you will need
A plastic container
My go-to are the old cookie containers that Chinese New Year goodies usually come in. They are a good size and have a large opening, which I like for a purpose that will become clear as you read on. However, lots of people prefer to use old plastic soda bottle because they tend to be better at keeping air out. In any case, avoid using glass as gas build-up from the fermentation process might cause it to explode.
Fruit peel – 4 parts
I use grapefruit and pineapple, but only because that’s just what we eat on the regular. I’ve seen people using kiwi, apple, carrot, and even dragonfruit. Use them separately or combine them – oh, the possibilities! I keep my peels in a bag in the freezer until I've accumulated enough to make a batch. (You want them clean and fresh, not rotten.) I use about 5 grapefruits or 2 pineapples worth of peels each time.
Sugar source – 1 part
Jaggery, molasses, brown sugar – take your pick! I’ve read lots of recipes online that warn against using white sugar but that’s what I’ve been using and haven't had any bad experiences so far.
Water – 10 parts
Some people swear by bottled mineral water, but I just use tap water. I’m the kind of person who goes to a fancy restaurant and orders warm water (code for tap water).
What you gotta do
1. Cut fruit peels into small pieces and place in container. If your container has a large opening, you can get away with cutting them into not-so-small pieces. Otherwise, have fun cutting.
2. Combine sugar with water and stir till sugar dissolves. Some people like to use a separate bowl for this, but to minimize clean up, I just pour everything (peels + sugar + water) into the same container and stir till the sugar dissolves.
3. Cover your container and label it with the date it was made. Store it in a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight for 3 months. (To cut this down to 1 month, you can add yeast.)
4. Over the first month, you'll probably want to check on your mixture every couple of days to give it a good stirring and release the gas that builds up overtime. After the first month, checking it every 1-2 weeks should be sufficient.
5. If you find a layer of white froth on the surface of your mixture, it’s probably mold caused by air seeping in. Fret not, just stir in a bit more sugar. As long as your mixture smells pleasantly fruity, you are in the clear.
6. After 3 months, strain the liquid through a sieve and it is ready for use. As for the leftover peel and pulp, I throw it into the garden.
What you can use it for
Fruit enzyme cleaners typically have a shelf life of about 2 years, but with so many ways to use it, ensuring we have enough is more the concern than it going off. Here are some ways we use it at home:
To wash dishes (1/2 cup enzyme to 1 L of water)
To clean fruit and vegetables (1 part enzyme to 10 parts water)
As a facial cleanser or toner (1 part enzyme to 2 parts water)
To clean floors (1 part enzyme to 20 parts water)
To fertilize plants (1 part enzyme to 20 parts water; use after mopping floors)