Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Trash to Dinner!

It has come to my attention that some of the so called 'food scraps' we've been throwing away or hopefully composting for ages aren't quite as useless as we thought!

A post from LifeHacker sent me this handy resource list which I've added to:

At Your Disposal
First and foremost any and all vegetable scraps (minus some bitters like cabbage/brocoli which I only use in small ammounts) can be saved in a freezer bag to make vegetable stock. my 1lb bag hangs out in the freezer collecting odd ends of veggies/fruit before being boiled into tasty stock in my slow cooker but the pressure cooker would offer a faster version. Simply toss vegetable skins, onion peels/ends, lettuce, corn cobs, garlic skin you name it. Into the freezer bag, when she's full it's time to cover in x4 filtered water, toss in some pepper corns, celery seed (or celery), limp carrots or whatever other vegetables you feel could improve the flavour.

I haven't gone wrong yet, my stocks are all unsalted so I add soy sauce/braggs or salt to the dishes I use them in. But you could also add it directly to the stock. Or seperate your scraps to make specific broth, corn broth is pretty magical just boil your corn cobs. I find the longer you cook stuff the better for stock, but 1 hour is minimal. Strain and squeeze your scraps and use the broth as usual.
Before you throw away your vegetable trimmings, consider some alternative uses:
CARROT, CELERY AND FENNEL LEAVES Mix small amounts, finely chopped, with parsley as a garnish or in salsa verde: all are in the Umbelliferae family of plants. Taste for bitterness when deciding how much to use.
CHARD OR COLLARD RIBS Simmer the thick stalks in white wine and water with a scrap of lemon peel until tender, then drain and dress with olive oil and coarse salt. Or bake them with cream, stock or both, under a blanket of cheese and buttery crumbs, for a gratin I've also done kale stocks, again they are a bit tougher so cook them longer.
CITRUS PEEL Organic thin-skinned peels of tangerines or satsumas can be oven-dried at 200 degrees, then stored to season stews or tomato sauces. Lemon can be zested or frozen to zest later on.
CORN COBS Once the kernels are cut off, simmer the stripped cobs with onions and carrots for a simple stock. Or add them to the broth for corn or clam chowder.
MELON RINDS Cut off the hard outer peels and use crunchy rinds in place of cucumber in salads and cold soups. Pickled rinds are also tasty
PEACH LEAVES Steep in red wine, sugar and Cognac to make a summery peach-bomb aperitif. (According to David Lebovitz’s recipe, the French serve it on ice.)
POTATO PEELS Deep-fry large pieces of peel in 350-degree oil and sprinkle with salt and paprika. This works best with starchy potatoes like russets. I usually just make my mashed potatoes etc with the peels. Slices small enough you don't notice them. Alternatively save them to bulk up stews etc
YOUNG ONION TOPS Wash well, coarsely chop and cook briefly in creamy soups or stews, or mix into hot mashed potatoes.
TOMATO LEAVES AND STEMS Steep for 10 minutes in hot soup or tomato sauces to add a pungent garden-scented depth of tomato flavor. Discard leaves after steeping.
TOMATO SCRAPS Place in a sieve set over a bowl, salt well and collect the pale red juices for use in gazpacho, Bloody Marys or risotto.
TURNIP, CAULIFLOWER OR RADISH LEAVES Braise in the same way as (or along with) collards, chards, mustard greens or kale.
WATERMELON SEEDS Roast and salt like pumpkinseeds.Same with squash seeds, great topings.
Onion/Garlic peels: make a great addition to homemade stocks.

plus many odds and ends can be sprouted at home and planted in window boxes.

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