Picking up baskets from Bountiful Baskets pretty much guarantees that you will be doing loads of chopping and prepping of all sorts of produce. After all of your chopping, peeling and trimming you will accumulate mountains of scraps. Rather than filling up your trash can with the scraps, there are a lot of things you can do to waste not.
My favorite thing to do with the vegetable scraps is to save them up to make vegetable stock. Homemade vegetable stock is tastier and more nutritious than store bought and handy to have on hand. Whenever I chop vegetables I put the scraps into a gallon freezer bag.
I keep the bag in the freezer and pull it out each time I prepare vegetables. I also put vegetables in the bag that are going bad (but not yet bad). Once the bag is full, I make the stock. To make the stock:
- Dump the vegetable scraps into a large stockpot.
- Add herbs and aromatics to flavor the broth – I usually use bay leaves, several peppercorns, crushed garlic cloves and sometimes other herbs that I have on hand.
- Pour enough water into the stockpot to completely cover the vegetables.
- Turn your stove to high and bring the stock to a boil. Once it begins to boil, turn the stove to low and simmer for an hour.
- Strain your stock. You can use an ultra fine strainer, cheesecloth or coffee filters.
- To store the stock you have a few options – choose the best option for how you use stock. You can portion it out into 1 cup amounts and put it into freezer bags then lay it down flat to let it freeze. Once it is frozen, it takes up little room in the freezer. You can also freeze it in ice cube trays. Once the stock cubes are frozen, pop them out and stick them into a bag.
Some of my favorite scraps are: onions (even the outside peel!), garlic, carrots, celery, herbs, leeks, potato peels, lettuce, zucchini, squash, green beans, bell peppers, squash, corn cobs, peas.
Avoid any scraps that have overpowering flavors. Turnips, cabbage, radishes, brussel sprouts will all get bitter when cooked in the stock. Also don’t use anything that is already rotting or is dirty.
There are a lot of other great ways to use produce scraps. Here is a list of other ideas:
- Put them in a compost pile. Here is a link that can help you get a compost pile started if you don’t have one already: http://web.extension.illinois.edu/homecompost/building.html
- Make vinegar using your fruit scraps http://thenourishingcook.com/how-to-make-fruit-scrap-vinegar/
- Instead of putting the corn cobs into you vegetable stock (or throwing them away), you can also make jelly with them. It tastes like honey! http://chickensintheroad.com/cooking/how-to-make-corn-cob-jelly/
- You can use the banana peels as fertilizer for roses http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/new-uses-for-old-things/banana-peel-10000001193282/index.html
- Citrus peels are great for making cleaners. They are good in everything from all-purpose cleaners, carpet deodorizers, metal cleaners and more – here is a list of 10 cleaners that you can make using citrus. http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2012/03/10-homemade-cleaners-made-from-citrus.html
- Feed them to animals – lot of fruit and vegetable scraps are good for feeding to animals. We commonly feed scraps to dogs, chickens and goats.
- Create a fragrant and beautiful homemade potpourri by drying citrus peels, apple peels and other fruit trimmings.
- Make candied fruit peels – http://www.thehungrymouse.com/2009/12/02/how-to-make-candied-fruit-peel/
- Save odds and ends of good vegetables to toss into soups or casseroles.
- Use peels to make infused liquor. Vodka usually works best because it is such a mild flavor. Just place peels, scraps or rinds into a bottle of liquor. Allow it to steep for two weeks in a cool, dry place. Fruits are most common but you can infuse with cucumber or jalapeño to make a yummy bloody mary.
Finding ingenious ways to use produce scraps is good for your wallet and for the planet. So reconsider what you think of as food waste and use some of these options (or more!) before you throw food in the trash.