By Author, Victoria Glass
Small changes can make a big difference
Food waste is big and unappetising news right now. Jamie Oliver has stated that up to 50% of our household food will get thrown away every week. Even the smallest changes can have dramatic results. It can be as simple as shopping smarter by keeping an eye on what’s languishing at the back of the fridge.
Store fruits and vegetables separately – the ethylene gas emitted from most fruits causes speeded up spoilage for the produce surrounding it. Potatoes and onions should never be stored together, as both will sprout and rot quicker.
Put the peeler away
Forget the peeler and give your root vegetables a simple scrub instead. There is so much flavour and fibre in the skins and leaving them on, not only saves time, but also makes for a more delicious supper. If you do peel, turn those peelings into oven baked crisps – everything from butternut squash to sweet potato work.
Rethink date stamps
Best-before dates relate to food quality. Use-by dates are concerned with food safety. Always adhere to use-bys, but use common sense when it comes to best-befores. Fruit and veg is safe until it goes mouldy, and unless eggs float in water, they’re still good; you don’t need a printed date stamp to tell you otherwise.
You can substitute sour milk for buttermilk for marinating chicken (the lactic acid tenderises the meat) and in baking – it makes fantastically light scones. Sour milk can also be transformed into homemade ricotta with little effort.
Rejuvenate and refresh
Salad leaves and herbs are some of the worst offenders for quick wilting, but often it’s caused by a simple case of dehydration. Before chucking limp leaves on the compost, try reviving them by plunging them in ice cold water for 20 minutes first.
The big freeze
You can freeze all sorts of things beyond ice cubes: bread, chopped garlic, ginger and chilli, and chopped vegetables and herbs can all be cooked straight from frozen. British shoppers throw away 1.4 million bananas every day at a cost of £80 million a year, according to the latest WRAP figures. Aside from just making banana bread, bananas can be sliced and frozen, ready for smoothies or blended to make instant soft scoop “ice cream”.
Learn to take stock
I keep a Tupperware box in my freezer to collect tops and tails of veg ready for my stock pot. Homemade stock (which can also be frozen) makes the most of leftover meat and fish bones, ready to be turned into soups, stews and risottos.
Broad bean pods can be turned into fritters and a dried up Parmesan rind can impart extra umami to a vat of soup. It’s time to rethink our concept of waste. A little over half the weight of a cauliflower or broccoli is the leaves and stem, so if you only eat the florets, you waste more than you eat. The stems are delicious sautéed, roasted or even pickled.
Love your leftovers
You can make a feast from stale bread (bruschetta, panzanella, bread and butter pudding) or last night’s mashed potato (delicious in cakes or pommes dauphine), and rice can be transformed into all sorts of exciting dinners, from nasi goreng to kedgeree. A little creativity can easily stretch one meal into two.