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Vegetable scraps: 10 of our best hacks on how to use them.

When you’re next standing at the kitchen bench chopping up your vegetables or slicing up your fruit, take note of what you’re discarding. All those tops and tails, peels, stems, and even seeds are tossed aside as worthless commodities. We are lucky here in Lake Macquarie because our council has taken steps to reduce food waste. Our kitchen green bins are perfect for recycling our unwanted food into garden waste. However, what if you could save money by using your vegetable, herb and fruit scraps?

Did you know, Australian’s discard up to 20% of the food we purchase? It equates to around $1000 a year for each of us. In total it’s valued at over $8 billion. The fresh food waste, like our fruit and vegetables, equates to 33% of this. So, we’ve been looking at ways to save our scraps and turn them into valuable extras in our meals.1

 

1. Zucchini, tomato & carrot ends

All three of these vegetables can be added to your cooking just the same as the rest of it. Add your tomato ends to your tomato sauce for pizza bases, spaghetti, or even tomato soup! Pop your carrot tops and tails into stocks, soups, and salads. Your zucchini and carrot ends can be added to soups and stir-fries. I think I’m going to try carrot top pesto, that sounds amazing! Carrot Tops Pesto.

 

2. Carrot, potato, sweet potato peel

OMG if you haven’t tried fried potato peels before you need to have a go. I found a recipe that’s to die for. Check this out: Fried Potato Peels Another awesome crisp is the sweet potato skin. It’s a little sweeter so you’ll taste the sweet and salty flavour. Here’s another recipe to try: Crispy Sweet Potato Skins. You can make carrot peel crisps as well, but some other uses include adding to your stock or even a smoothie, tossing them into a stir fry or making a carrot peel pesto.

 

3. Onion & garlic skin

Onion skins are awesome in soups and slow cookers because they retain the onion flavour. You can even boil the skins for 20 min to make an infused water, which is believed to help with leg cramps. You just remove the skins after boiling and drink before bedtime. Onion and garlic skins can be used to add extra nutrition to soups, stews, and when making stock or bone broth. Strain the skins out after your stock is infused.

 

4. Brocolli & cauliflower stems

We add our stems to all our dishes and keep the heads for the 3 veggie and meat plate. These include spaghetti sauce, stir-frys, soups, and casseroles. They also make the perfect extra to a vegetable soup, and if you’re into fermented veggies then the stems can be pickled! Brocolli and cauliflower stalks are as nutritious as the florets, both low in calories and high in fibre. Have you tried broccoli & cauliflower rice? All you have to do is whizz up the stems into the rice grain size and fry in a saucepan with coconut oil then season. Delish!

 

5. Banana skins

We toss it away without a thought, but banana skins are full of B group vitamins, potassium and magnesium. They can be used in smoothies, cooked in cakes or even pickled. Just make sure you’re eating organic bananas. How about trying banana peel bacon? Sounds interesting right? It’s a vegan version of bacon. Check it out here: Banana Peel Bacon. I think banana peel stir fry is more my thing, especially with chilli: Banana Peel Stir Fry

 

6. Mandarin, orange & lemon skin

Citrus skin has many uses around the house, especially in the kitchen. You can infuse lemon peel in your tea, add it to a chicken cavity when roasting or in water for extra flavour. You can make the most delicious jam or marmalade from citrus peel. Lemon skin can also be made into lemon sugar or herbed lemon butter. Use citrus peel around the house as well. People place dry skin in wardrobes to scare off moths, use it to freshen up their fridge, sanitise a cutting board or add to white vinegar for a cleaning remedy. It’s used as a cleaner in the bathroom to make it shine and smell amazing.

 

7. Stalks from your herbs

We’re all guilty of discarding our stalks, but they can be used as well. Chop up your stalks just like you do the herbs and add them to stocks, soups, spaghetti bolognese or stews. I also love herb-infused oil and vinegar. You can also blend them to make pesto or add them to marinade. Maybe try making herb-infused oil for body care. Now that sounds interesting.

 

8. Cores from apples & pears

The core of your pears and apples can go in with the rest of the fruit when you’re making jam or if you’re making apple cider vinegar. You can even literally eat the core when you’re having fruit break. I know my kids demolish it right down to almost nothing. Pop the cores in your smoothies as well before you hit the button. No need to waste anything.

 

9. Pineapple core

Use the core of pineapple in vegetable, chicken or fish stock to add a hint of sweetness. Another tasty idea is to use it as a stuffing for a roast chicken, yum! Try a flavoursome iced tea or lemonade, and you can even use it up in a jam recipe because it acts as natural pectin. Pineapple cores are very nutritious so make sure your smoothie or fresh juice doesn’t miss out on any goodness.

 

10, Pumpkin seeds

There’s nothing like finishing with a delicious garnish or tasty snack. Pumpkin seeds are very nutritious and taste amazing. There are so many ways you can flavour them as well. You first need to wash and dry them. If you soak them in warm water, the seeds will float and the remaining pumpkin flesh will sink. The pepita is inside the shell but you can simply crunch down and eat the shell as well. Flavour them up with some herbs and seasoning. How to roast pumpkin seeds six ways.

 

Keep leftovers fresher longer

To keep vegetable scraps, fruit and herb off-cuts fresh, you can blanch or freeze them to cook later. Try pickling techniques for preserving your extras.

Making the most of your scraps is much easier than you think. You can also invest in a worm farm or compost bin to enrich your soil. Be mindful that citrus, tomatoes and onions can’t be used with worms. However, you can now use them in your kitchen or home.

Working towards zero waste not only helps reduce waste and processing, but it will also help you spend less and discover some new recipes and uses to try at home.

 

 

 


References:

  1. Foodwise: Food Waste Fast Facts {Accessed 31/7/20}

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