The Weekend Series: scrap your bad habits – five ways to reduce kitchen waste
When cooking at home, making a mess is pretty much a part of the deal. You can’t make a decent meal without ending up with a few scraps, right? Well, those scraps that you typically throw away can actually be useful for your next cook up. The latest trend in cooking is reusing kitchen waste in innovative and delicious ways. With some of the world’s best restaurants making the move towards waste-free operation, there’s no excuse for throwing away perfectly good ingredients. If you have been feeling a little bit guilty for throwing away a good portion of your groceries each week, then read on.
Stock up on stock ingredients
One of the best pieces of advice you’ll ever get when talking about avoiding wastage is to take stock of your produce. While putting a bit of extra thought into your purchasing is always a great move, this time we are taking this piece of advice to the next level. Off cuts and scraps can often be used to create bone-warming broths and stocks that can be used in meals later in the week (they are also good for you). Cooked bones can be frozen and reused to make bone stock, while onion skins can add a golden hue and a bit of extra flavour to stock as well. Onion ends, carrot peels, celery tops, corn cobs, and garlic are great additions, and batches can keep in the freezer for months.
Image: Betty Liu
Get yourself into a pickle
You might have heard that pickling and fermenting is hugely popular these days – and for good reason. It ensures that ingredients can last months, instead of days, while also offering a range of benefits as a result of the process. Excess fruit and vegetables can be fermented using a starter, some salt and filtered water that preserves without the use of pressure or heat and helps enhance the vitamin content of food, improves nutrient bio-availability and the digestibility of food. Got leftover vegetables that are looking to spoil soon, or want to ensure you can enjoy certain fruits out of season? Start pickling and fermenting at home!
Image: Matt Taylor-Gross, Saveur
Infuse to reuse
Who doesn’t love a cheeky flavour infusion? One of the easiest ways to experiment with tastes is by getting some extra mileage out of certain scraps. Did you know you can place a vanilla bean pod in some sugar and it will infuse the granules with a nice flavour? You do now. Here’s another fun fact – those same vanilla pods can be used to imbue a bit of sweetness to vodka and bourbon. Beet peelings can be used to infuse colour into other dishes and the zest from orange peels can liven up a huge range of sauces with a nice citrus kick. Boiling ginger scraps is a great way to make a simple tea, while olive pits popped into bottles of olive oil will add some extra top notes to the mixture.
Image: The Spruce
Put it on ice!
We all know that freezing leftovers keeps them ripe and ready to eat well after your initial bulk cook, but freezing can also help keep scraps and excess ingredients fresh as well. Before fruit goes bad, chop it up and freeze it and then add chunks to a morning smoothie. Kale and silverbeet can be blanched, dried and frozen in portions for a quick addition to meals. Nuts, seeds and grains can last a lot longer in the freezer, as can dried herbs.
Image: Live Simply
Shop in your pantry first
Most places will suggest that a key way to avoid waste is to avoid over-shopping in the first place. This is true, but that doesn’t solve the existing problem of what to do with the food you already have. We suggest taking stock of your fridge and pantry before going shopping and using what you already have before you dash out to buy more things you might not need. Apps such as Handpick can help you find recipes and meal suggestions by simply inputting what is on hand. If you are missing a key ingredient, by all means hit the shops – but not before ensuring you have a plan ahead of time.
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