Cut down on your kitchen waste by cooking smarter—here are our favourite ways to utilise scraps and otherwise compostable items.
Whether it’s discarding the tops of carrots or slicing away the stalk and leaves of broccoli, the vegetable peels landing onto the compost heap are fast becoming the go-to ingredients in that pesto, salad and snack-time treat.
According to figures from stopfoodwaste.ie, almost 50% of salad products bought in Irish households are thrown away, while 25% of fruit and vegetables purchased never make the cut… and that’s before you start to chop and dice away the non-traditional parts from root and stems to bushy green leaves. What's worse, bin collection companies are linking a “record” surge in household waste to overbuying at supermarkets during the coronavirus crisis. Greyhound, one of the country’s largest bin collectors with 120,000 customers in Dublin, said it was dealing with “a record 38 per cent increase” in brown bin waste since people began working from home in large numbers and restrictions such as restaurant and cafe closures were announced. This equates to more than 200 tonnes extra.
While the trend of reducing food waste is an act of sustainability we’d like to encourage, being inspired past preparing a basic stock for your freezer supply may take some practice.
Championing the whole use of the plant, why not take a creative lead in prepping your vegetable drawer and change up the menu with some of these additions:
Broccoli stalks and leaves
Why not try? Brocolli bakes chips, smoothies or stir-fries
Traditionally, broccoli leaves and stems are considered the dregs of the vegetable, but the versatile shoots and stem can be used in breakfast, lunch and dinner solutions. For a healthy snack, simply cut off the leaves, toss with a little olive oil and sea salt and roast in a 190C oven, until they start to crisp. Start checking them after 4 or 5 minutes or when you start to hear popping sounds.
Alternatively, add the leaves or chopped stalks to a stir-fry or smoothie for added protein, calcium, iron, potassium, manganese and vitamins A, B6 and C.
Carrot tops/ greens/ peels
Why not try? Pesto, salsa verde, fritters
Tossing away the tops and greens will be a thing of the past when you make a homemade, nutty pesto from the often-discarded carrot parts. Although the greens can be eaten raw in salads, consider softening them in olive oil and garlic to dull the bitter taste. This also works for beetroot greens.
For those who stare at a small mound of carrot peels after dinner, use some flour, spices, fresh herbs and a beaten egg, to create your own fritters with leftover peel. Create a firm shape with the combined mixture and fry over a medium heat for an alternative brunch option.
Fennel stalks and fronds
Why not try? Fish infusion
Have a penchant for Chinese cooking? Fennel fronds have long been touted as a popular addition to traditional pork dumplings. However, for a beginner’s attempts at using the whole veg, fennel stalks and fronds can be added to fish for a herb infusion. Whether steaming, grilling, baking or frying, scatter the fronds and stalks over the fish for a slightly sweet, anise infusion.
Why not try? Waatlemoen Konfyt (watermelon jam)
A popular fruit to snack on as we start to welcome the summer months, watermelon rind is the main ingredient in this South African treat. Waatlemoen Konfyt is a watermelon rind jam in syrup with softer pieces of watermelon set. Delicious with bread, scones and cheese, the jam involves pricking the watermelon rind on both sides and leaving to soak in a pot with all the rind covered in lukewarm water overnight.
Mix with 15ml of lime juice and leave to soak for 12-18 hours. Following this, bring the pot to the boil for 5 minutes, then remove from the hob and strain. Weigh the melon fruit then place it in an empty pot. Weigh out the same weight in sugar and add a piece of ginger and just enough water to cover the melon. Leave to simmer on a low heat for two hours, removing the ginger pieces. Decant the jam into sterilised jars before sealing them for storage.
READ MORE: What we're cooking this week