This series has been tackling all things food; seed to plate. Now it is time to think about what to do after the plate. Sometimes it is inevitable that we end up with food waste, whether that’s scraps of unfinished dinners (not enough to make a spare plate), something that we’ve forgotten about in the fridge, or peels and odds-and-ends from cooking.
There is always a good way to dispose of food, and even before that some nifty tricks to get even last drop of goodness out.
Many of us will remember a family member cooking a big Sunday roast, and saving the bones and odd bits to make a broth the best day. It was simple, put the bits in a pot with lots of water, boil boil boil, et voila! Stock! Well this is the same for vegetables.
The peels and scraps of all vegetables canals be boiled down in the same way, strained and kept as stock. Its a great way to squeeze out all of the goodness and nutrients from our produce. Simply keeping scrap vegetables to the side (in a cloth bag in the freezer helps to preserve) and when you have a good size to fill a pan you can make some stock.
Scrap Apple Vinegar
Whether you have apple cores left over from snacking, or piles of peels from cooking a crumble, these apple leftovers are great for making scrap apple vinegar.
A good ‘recipe’ is six-ish large apple peels and cores, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and enough water to cover everything in a big glass jar with a thin cloth covering – normally a cup of water per apple does the trick.
Again, freezing apple remains until you have enough is a great trick. All of these ingredients begin fermentation – which is what will form your vinegar.
Keep stirring the mixture as this encourages the process along. After about day 7 your mixture will have be bubbly on top and beginning to lose these bubbles and have a faint alcohol smell.
Once this starts, you can reduce your stirring to about once a day, now you can leave your jar open to the air (no cloth) to help the process along. Normally this process takes a week, and after that you can strain and bottle. Make sure to ‘burp’ your jars over the next few weeks to allow for gas built up to escape. These bottles should last up to a year!
Apple vinegar is great for; adding to soup, hair care, lemon juice replacement, and cleaning!
Potato Peel Crisps
Normally I cook all my potatoes with the skin on (yes even mash), but on the rare occasion when peeling potatoes is required this is a great excuse to make potato skin crisps. This one is simple.
Take your potato peels, soak them to get rid of the starch, pat dry, and fry! Well, not necessarily fry, there are lots of ways to make crisps. Fry – simply in a pan with some oil until golden. Bake – lightly oil and bake until golden (180C should do it). Deep fry – medium level until golden.
Microwave – lightly oil each and microwave for 3-5 minutes, watch for when they turn golden. So many ways!
Coffee ground scrub
For the coffee grounds from a machine or left in a cafetière there are a few possibilities, but my favourite is coffee body and face scrub. It is a simple mixture with grounds, coconut oil (be careful as this can clog drains so jojoba or vitamin e oil might work better) and tea tree oil.
The ratio I use is about 2:3 coconut:coffee and a few drops of tea tree. A good tip is to rinse your coffee grounds before you begin to rid them of any coffee residue, and let them dry before mixing.
Coffee grounds in soil
Coffee grounds have a lot of nutrition for plants because of the minerals, calcium, phosphates and nitrogen all inside one little granule. Once coffee beans have been used, they are not going to hurt the ground or animals – it doesn’t have a lot of caffeine left in it once it’s been used. A little bit goes a long way.
There are a multitude of reasons why coffee grounds are ideal for your garden. For example, slugs don’t seem to like them, and they repel a lot of animals – cats, too, don’t seem to like the smell. Best to sprinkle small amount on bulbs in the autumn or spring, and on the top of the beds here and there.
It seems to colour them up, giving plants some nutrition. Adding a to your compost pile, also adds a lot of nutrition, making it break down much quicker!
Citrus Fruit cleaner
This one is simply mixing citrus fruit peels with vinegar to make some all purpose cleaner then adding some bicarbonate of soda! We have a blog on this here.
These are just a few ideas for what you can do with your food scraps, but once these are finished and you are ready to dispose of these, what is the best way?
For those of us lucky enough to have composting facilities, be that from our council or in our garden, this is an ideal way of giving back to the earth, properly disposing of these items. Food which goes to landfill and isn’t properly disposed of will be releasing methane which is a seriously harmful greenhouse gas.
This is contributing to climate change and should be avoided at all costs! Composting takes food scraps and turns them into nutrient rich soil.
For those not lucky enough to have these facilities there are still some more options. Finding a composting location, whether that’s writing to your council or locating a nearby community garden/allotment area which might be able to help you out.
Many councils in Scotland are driving forward to get everyone kitted out with home composting bins – so fingers crossed it won’t be long until it is the norm for everyone.
Second to finding a location nearby, there are ‘at-home’ kits to help you out. Whether it is a full at home composting bin for your garden or a worm compost system.
A worm compost system is basically a big pot which has soil and worms to live in. These are ‘fed’ your food scraps and turn it into compost.
These can be bought online or made at home, and they can be really effective. A perfect solution for those maybe living in flats/apartments which don’t have great access to gardens.
This series has been focusing on all things food; seed to plate, and now the disposal. Hopefully you have taken some tips away and realised that the world of food waste can be avoided quite easily! The most important thing is tackling waste at the source – over consumption.
However there are tips and tricks for avoiding further waste once the food is in your home.