Food blogger Katie White shares her clever hacks for using up those leftovers instead of sending them to landfill
- MAKE A STOCK: Making stock from scratch is not only a great way to use parts of veg we wouldn’t usually use, but it is also very satisfying.
To make it, use ‘waste’ ingredients like onion skins, celery tops, parsley stalks, carrot tops, old herbs, mushroom stalks, leek tops or spring onion tops combined with water and any regular stock ingredients including carrots, celery stalks and bay leaves. Simmer it on low for a few hours.
- TRY SAVOURY MUFFINS: Another recipe that is excellent for using up old food is savoury muffins. Add all the old half-used jars from the back of the fridge into a basic batter mix – things like olives, capers, artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes.
You know, those jars of nice stuff you bought once upon a time to jazz up a pizza then forgot about! Then you can add leftovers from the other night, like diced up roasted peppers, pumpkin or sweet potato.You can also chop up sad old herbs like basil which will get to live out their purpose in the form of more flavour in these muffins. Even a halfeaten block of tofu can have a second life here – crumble it up and mix it in.
- ORANGE CLEANING SPRAY: Stuff orange skins into a jar and cover them with white vinegar. Close the jar and let them sit in a dark place for several weeks.After this time, the oils from the skin will have gone into the vinegar and it will smell wonderful. Simply strain off the peels and transfer the liquid to a spray bottle for an excellent disinfectant cleaning spray.
- BROCCOLI STALK PIES: Pies were originally invented to disguise foods that no one wanted to eat in any other way.Although we don’t need to fill them with eye balls anymore, we can use this same ‘wrap it in pastry’ solution to recycle veg scraps and reduce food waste.
All you need to do is very finely chop, or use a food processor to lightly pulse, broccoli, cauliflower or mushroom stalks, old carrots and leek tops, then mix them with some tofu, nutritional yeast, seasoning, garlic and herbs and ‘voila’ you have a pie filling to go inside lovely golden puff pastry.
- BANANA SKIN LIQUID FERTILISER: Banana skins, along with potato skin, broccoli leaves and many other loose ends can be soaked in water to create a liquid fertiliser for your plants, both indoor and outdoor.All you need is the space of a laundry sink, or ideally a bucket on your balcony, and soak these scraps in water for 3-7 days, strain off and use the water on your plants.
As these scraps start to decompose, they will release their minerals into the water which you can see in the light brown colour of the water.
- COFFEE GRIND EXFOLIATOR: Coffee grinds can be used to make an excellent exfoliator for the skin.Simply combine coffee grinds with coconut oil, and for extra deliciousness some brown sugar, then store in a jar in the shower. Rub it over your skin and rise down the drain.
- CITRUS SKIN FIRE LIGHTERS: Citrus skins are extremely versatile waste products. If you have a fireplace, lay the citrus peel skin-side down on top of your fire and let them dry off, then remove them before they burn.Next time you are lighting a fire, use them as fire lighters. The oils in the skins will ignite instantly when added to flames, which will help get your fire roaring!
- GOOD OL’ GRAVY: Proper gravy is probably one of my favourite ways to use up veg scraps and reduce food waste. Carrot peels, mushroom stalks, celery tops, old onions… there’s so many regular ‘waste’ items that go into this which all add flavour.Simply dice up your scraps and old veggies, add your saved peels, skins and stalks and sweat it down. This is the base to your gravy – now just add other ingredients including flour, tomato paste, red wine and stock.
- MAKE A WORM FARM: Worm farms are another form of composting and are a great option to reduce food waste by turning food scraps into a fantastic food for plants! Worms create two products – epic humus which is a rich compost, and worm wee/tea which is an excellent liquid fertiliser.This can be diluted with water and used to feed indoor and outdoor plants. All you need is about 1 metre square of outdoor space and you can accommodate one of these magic boxes.
- COMPOSTING: Composting may be the first thing that comes to mind when you want to reduce food waste. However, not everyone is in a position to do this, especially apartment dwellers.I like to think that there is always a way to compost no matter what your situation, and although I know this may sound a bit ambitious, if we think outside the box (or apartment) anything is possible! If you have any outside space at all, you can get a compost bin and start composting!
You can always dig a hole and bury your compost if you don’t have a garden to distribute it onto after it has broken down. If you don’t have any outdoor space, find out where your nearest community garden is and enquire about donating food scraps to them for their compost.
This article first appeared in issue 19 of Planet Mindful magazine – read more about sustainable eating here. You can also find Katie White blogging at Olive Wood Vegan.
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