8 Things You Can Do with Food Scraps You'd Otherwise Bin
It's tempting to view our food scraps as just that: off-cuts, odds and ends to be tossed aside and thrown away with the rest of your rubbish. However, we shouldn't be so hasty when it comes to filling up the bin with discarded food, because there are some great things that can be salvaged from your scrap heap.
Using up the remnants from your food is doubly good since it reduces food waste too. Far too often, we're in the habit of creating unnecessary food waste which is not only detrimental to the environment, but it can mean the wallet can take a hit more than you'd think.
From vegetable peelings to chicken bones, we'll show you how your food scraps can be put to use in some creative and delicious ways – great for those looking to stretch their budgets that little bit further.
Stock up on your veg
We'll start this list of impromptu instructions with a proper ad-hoc essential; a delicious vegetable stock made from offcuts of your produce is a superb addition to your culinary arsenal.
Hold onto things like carrot tops, discarded celery, onion skins and herbs on their way out, boil them up with some water and you'll have an unbelievable stock with which to markedly improve your soups, stews and gravy. Make it a regular thing and freeze batches for later, too.
Spare ribs? Turn bones into broth
If you want to go a step further and make something with even more flavour, then we definitely recommend digging out the bones from your cuts of roasted meat and using them in a deep, hearty broth.
Packed with nutrients, amino acids and minerals, it's good enough to imbibe on its own, but its use in stews and casseroles is where the tastiness of it truly takes things to another level of flavour. Cooked for at least 12 hours, it's a slow process, but patience is definitely a virtue with a good bone broth; in fact, the longer the better.
Save the potato peel
A rule of thumb: don't get rid of potato skin once it's peeled. The humble vegetable's hide has a treat in store for those keeping hold of the peel. The thin slivers, when roasted, make an excellent snack that's easy and uses up the remnants of the root veg with no waste or leftovers.
Drizzle them with some olive oil and any seasoning of your choice, cook them in the oven at 200°c for around 15 minutes, stirring halfway through, and that's pretty much it. Sprinkle some cheese on for an added treat if you wish.
Use your loaf – make banana bread
Bananas tend to go the way of the bin the second they turn brown. Too soft and displeasingly coloured, it's not unsurprising they get chucked looking the way they do. When they're mashed up in a deliciously soft and sweet banana bread, however, who cares about the consistency? Easy to make and irresistible, you'll be surprised by how quickly slices of it get whisked off the plate.
This BBC recipe for banana bread calls explicitly for those overripe bananas which have started to turn.
The beet goes on
Often thought as surplus to the beetroot's purple-y goodness, don't discard the veg's green stems when you come to use your beets. Cut the leaves off and steam them, season them with salt and pepper, and a knob of butter for some added indulgence.
If they're young enough, then chop them up and throw in a salad, or if they're a little too old for that, add them to the veggie stock that we mentioned earlier. They're even great when added to light pasta dishes, so don't underestimate this surprisingly versatile green.
How many times have you thrown out the stems after your broccoli's been shorn of its florets? If you're not wise to using it in other dishes, it's probably a fair number. After all, it's tough and not exactly visually pleasing. If you want to re-use it, peel the outer layer, chop the years up and throw it in a stir-fry. You can just chop the entire stem into small enough chunks to use as well.
Wine fans rejoice!
For those into their viticulture, good news: wine can be rescued from its best before depths even after you think it's reached the point of no return. If you just want to pour yourself a glass, then drop a (clean) copper penny into it, stir it around and then fish it out. The penny neutralises the sulphur smells of waning wine and makes it easily drinkable. A silver spoon will do the trick just as well too, by the way.
If you have more time on your hands and aren't in the mood for drinking old wine, then why not make vinegar out of it? Simply pour the wine into a glass jar, cover it with cheesecloth and store in a cool, dark place. After you've played the waiting game (anywhere from one to six months), you'll have yourself some vinegar to use – just be sure to check the progress every so often with a quick sip.
Lastly, old wine works just as well as fresh when used to cook with. Give reduction sauces a glug and add a flavoursome boost to your meals in no time at all.
Make some migas
If you don't have enough tortillas for a round of quesadillas, or they've gone a bit dry and hard, then give migas a try! The Tex-Mex favourite is a great makeshift meal any time of the day. There's no real set recipe, but the usual one tends to involve onions, jalapenos and the dry tortillas fried up for a few minutes, then some whisked eggs thrown in and scrambled. Garnish with traditional Mexican options like cheese, sour cream, refried beans and salsa, and you've got yourself a hefty, hearty meal without the effort.
We hope this article has inspired you to get creative with your food scraps. Don't forget, all these dishes can be stored for leftovers using the FoodSaver vacuum sealing system, so you can save money and reduce food waste. Find out more about our innovative range of vacuum sealers.