Inventive ways to upcycle your food scraps – by Tina Sabbagh

You’ve peeled, chopped sliced and trimmed, and now it’s time to throw out those food scraps – right?

Wrong!

Although it might seem like there is little use for vegetable peelings, or those little bits in jars that a spoon just can’t get to, there are many inventive ways to upcycle your kitchen scraps into something delicious. Not only is it fun to come up with innovative ideas for repurposing food waste, but it’s also great for the planet (not to mention, your wallet!)

Making the most of it

You’ll know the feeling – you’ve been trying to scrape the last little morsels from a jar, but no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to get to them? Well, don’t fret – for there’s an easier way. Instead of trying to scrape leftovers out of the jar, why not try adding something to it? For example, by adding some olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and herbs of your choice to an almost-finished jar of mustard and giving it a good shake, you’ll be left with a quick, tasty salad dressing! This also works well for things like shop-bought pasta sauces – just add a drop of water, give it a shake, and add it to your cooking pot.

The easiest way to make the most of our fruit and veg is to make sure we are using the whole thing – or as close to it as possible. Have you ever tried turning your potato peelings into a crispy snack? Potato skins contain fibre, vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, potassium and iron, so eating the whole potato can also be beneficial to our health.

After making sure that you’ve cleaned your potatoes well, take the skins, pat them dry and coat with a little bit of oil. Arrange them on a baking sheet, making sure not to overlap (this will allow them to crisp up nicely), and bake on a 180C fan for 8-10 minutes, checking every few minutes. When they are still warm, lightly toss them in your favourite combination of herbs and spices. These make a delicious snack as they are, but are great as a crunchy, flavourful garnish on soups and salads. Why not try the same technique for vegetable peelings?

Reuse, regrow, renew

Did you know that there are a whole host of vegetables that you can regrow from scraps in your kitchen? All that’s needed is a sunny windowsill, some water and a jar or dish to grow them in. This works best with members of the onion family, such as leeks or spring onions, but there are lots of other vegetables that it works for too. If you place the stump of lettuce like Romaine or Little Gem in a bowl half-filled with water, you’ll start to see new leaves growing after just a few days. You can use these leaves in a salad, or replant the lettuce in the soil. You can also place the top of a carrot, with at least a centimetre of carrot attached, into some water on the windowsill and regrow the greens. They have a slight bitterness, contain vitamin C, potassium, calcium and phytonutrients, and are so versatile. Use as a garnish, in soup or herby dressings, or run into a delicious green pesto!

Previously, I have regrown leeks, spring onions, lettuce and potatoes with great results every time. I currently have some spring onions regrowing on my kitchen windowsill and have seen some brilliant results after just a few days.

Freeze, don’t throw

Finally, if you notice some veg getting a bit worse for wear, or some perishable fridge items getting dangerously close to their use-by date, instead of admitting defeat and throwing them out, why not try freezing them? There may be some foods that freeze well, that you just didn’t know about. If you have some yoghurt needing to be eaten, but don’t have enough time to finish it all, why not freeze it and use it in smoothies at a later date? If you have fresh herbs on the turn, chop them up and place them in a freezer bag with a tablespoon of water, or freeze them in ice cube trays, either in water or oil, ready to pop out at any time. You can also freeze staples such as bread, taking out a few slices when you need them. It defrosts quickly at room temperature and helps keep your bread fresher for longer.

So, next time you’re ready to throw away your kitchen scraps, why not give some of these a go – or get your innovation hat on and try out some of your own tasty ideas? Just promise that you’ll share them with us after!

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