Perhaps this Chopped video served as my inspiration, or the slight obsession I have with wasting as little food as possible, but over the years, I have developed quite an intricate system for what to do with food scraps.
I started composting back in the day, but since inheriting 7 chickens three months ago (post to come!), we have even less to throw in the C-bin. However there are some kitchen scraps that can get a little reuse before heading either direction and can even miraculously transform into items you would otherwise pay good money for.
So here is a collection of Life Hacks from Food Scraps:
- Make a Multi-purpose cleaner out of citrus peels (after you’ve made your citrus smoothies, of course…) I fill an upturned tea cup on the top dishwasher shelf with a few day-old solution (lemons, limes and grapefruit peels are all welcome), to keep hard water stains at bay. Works like a charm.
- Brew apple cider vinegar out of apple cores and peels. We use raw ACV for lots of things, but it’s expensive. My tip is to add the ‘mother’ (weird floaty stuff) from your Bragg’s ACV as a starter to your homemade brew to speed up the fermenting process. (And use it as a fruit fly trap if said compost has attracted the little buggers.)
- Create Garden helpers, sidewalk chalk(!), and homemade calcium supplements out of eggshells. We crush and feed ours to the girls, but if we ever have an overabundance, now I’ll know what to do!
- Here are 17 recipes to use with stale bread. I have Paula Deen’s French Toast Casserole in my frig as I type. (I substituted the half and half with coconut milk.)
- Make flavorful broth with bones (chicken/beef/pork or seafood shells) & vegetable scraps. I keep this going in my slow cooker throughout the week and add more water after I use some. It’s a delicious and healthy base for soups, sauces, and gravies. And it makes a cozy home remedy (seasoned with sea salt) for the winter sickies.
- Ferment your condiments with yogurt whey. (I also use coconut kefir.) I had a friend who use to pour this off because it grossed her out, but this liquid gold has probiotics in it! You can add a table spoon of it to ketchup, mustard, jams/jellies, relishes and other condiments (that have a bit of sugar to feed the probiotics), shake to distribute, leave them at room temperature to ferment, and then shoo away the guilt when your children want to dip everything they eat in ketchup. My kids can’t tell a difference in the taste and we are getting digestive help whenever we eat it – win-win! FYI: All condiments were originally fermented before refrigeration, but are now shelf stable through pasteurization, so get your probiotics back, America, by culturing your own condiments! I routinely make this homemade mayo, since it is difficult to find store-bought mayos with healthy oils. And it looks and tastes like the traditional French mayo with yellow color coming from rich egg yolks. More on Fermentation 101 info here.
- Wow your friends with crepes/pancakes/waffles/etc. out of discarded sourdough starter. I’m in another sourdough bread baking season and I can’t say enough about how great it is (another post to come, I guess). One of the things that keeps your sourdough starter from getting to acidic is to pass on or discard part of it. Lessen the waste by using it to bake a host of simple recipes.
- Create natural dyes out of beets (frosting!), red cabbage (sun print eggs!), and onion skins (yarn!) I once used powdered spirulina to dye the “frosting field” on my sons baseball diamond cake. Looked amazing and tasted like grass! =) Have fun with the beauty of colorful food.
- Here is a simple ear infection pain reliever or heat pack using a sock and rice or coarse sea salt. (Find more traditional remedies here.)
- Brew a garden fertilizer out of fish scraps! (Not for the faint of heart.)
- And did you know that you can regrow vegetables from the white root bottoms of celery, romaine lettuce, green onions, etc. that you would normally discard? And of course, sprouted ginger, garlic and potato pieces can be put back in the ground to produce more of the same.
- And let’s wrap this up with a frugal, delicious recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks by Tamar Adler, The Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace.
Garlicky Leaf, Stem, and Core Pesto
4 – 5 cups stems/leaves/cores of cauliflower, broccoli, kale, collard, greens, swiss chard, cabbage, etc.
3 cloves garlic
½ cup olive oil
½ t salt
Half cover veggie scraps in water and boil until soft. Puree with the other ingredients and serve on toast or as a side dish with fish/meat. Enjoy!
What are your genius uses for food scraps?
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