Waste Not, Want Not: You Can Eat Yummy Food Scraps Without Turning Freegan

We waste about 1/3 of all food produced on the planet. Globally, that’s 1.3 billion tons of food waste each year. This staggering statistic supplied by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations isn’t just important because it means that some people don’t get enough food to eat. Food waste also represents a loss of land, water, energy, and other resources. Food going to waste means that greenhouse gases are being released into the environment without producing a visible benefit. And that’s just the gases associated with food production!

When food gets thrown out, we obviously have to do something with that waste. Even more land and resources are taken up unnecessarily in the waste collection process, but it doesn’t end there. Most of the food waste in America – roughly 25% to 40% of food grown and produced in the US – will end up in landfills where it will contribute to the production of methane gas. And while this is happening, 9% of all senior citizens and 19% of households that include children are experiencing food insecurity.

That’s just garbage!

 

Food waste: 1/3 of all food on the planet is never eaten | #frugal #waste
1/3 of all food produced on the planet goes to waste
(Image: PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay/CC0 1.0)

What You Can Do About Food Waste

If you’ve been buying only what you can use, planning meals around the food that’s already in your fridge, and using up leftovers, you are on the right track. But you could do more to help: you could eat food scraps! No, I’m not talking about turning “freegan” and taking up dumpster diving. And you won’t have to beg for write-offs at the back door of your local restaurant or grocery store.

But there are probably parts of food ingredients that are going to waste because you didn’t realize you could eat them. You can reuse some kitchen scraps to make broth for cooking, and many of your table scraps and other food wastes can go into your compost pile too. But there are also parts of fresh fruits and vegetables that most of us treat as scrap, that are actually quite edible!

 

3 Food ‘scraps’ you don’t have to toss away | #frugal #foodie
Does your family eat the kitchen scraps?
(Image from a public domain photo by PDPics/Pixabay)

 

Cooking with Kitchen Scraps

In our house, we keep a zippered bag in the freezer at all times and we use it to collect up all of the food waste that would otherwise end up in the garbage or compost heap. Vegetable skins and peels, the end bits that aren’t too appetizing, bones leftover after we eat a roast or enjoy fried chicken, it all goes into our soup bag. Sometimes we’ll have several of these bags waiting in the freezer – especially when I’m making freezer meals and I’ve been chopping a week’s worth of vegetables in one afternoon! A couple of times a month we make broth from this food waste. It’s a choice we make for the environment and for our food budget: making “free” both at just the cost of our electricity is a much more frugal food option than buying commercially produced broth at the grocery store!

But there are a lot of foods you might think belong in that soup bag, that we can eat instead. The following is a list of three foods you’re probably enjoying now – or will be in the coming weeks. These are foods that most people separate into a pile of edible bits – the root of the carrot, the flesh of the watermelon, the broccoli crowns – and a pile of skins and rinds, green tops, and woody stems that too often get thrown away.

Did you know you can eat every one of these “food scraps”? Let me tell you more about them.

 

Kitchen Scraps You Can Eat

1) Carrot Tops

A lot of people think carrot tops are poisonous, but this simply isn’t true. Look around online and you can find literally dozens of recipes for carrot top pesto or chimichurri, carrot greens in tabouleh salad, or carrot top soup. Use carrot tops the same way you would basil, parsley or cilantro, or add them to your soups and juices the way you would beet greens.

When you buy whole carrots that still have their tops, it’s like getting a second vegetable free! But you want to cut the greens off before you store your carrots in the fridge or cold room. The carrot tops will tend to pull moisture back up from the root if you store the whole carrot intact; that will dry out the root end and make it spoil more quickly. Store the carrot tops as you would leafy greens or herbs. If I know I’m going to keep them for more than a day or two, I like to treat carrot tops the same way I would my lettuce and other leafy green vegetables. I make sure they are unwashed, and I pat away any moisture with a clean towel. Then I store them in a rigid container or zippered freezer bag, along with a bit of paper towel or a clean dish towel. This wicks away any moisture and increases the shelf life of my carrot tops.

Try carrot tops as a parsley substitute in this tabouleh recipe

2) Watermelon Rind

Were you ever told not to eat the white or green parts of the watermelon because they would make you sick? Most people avoid this part of the melon because they believe it’s not edible. But again, if you search the internet you can find dozens of recipes for pickled watermelon rind, jams and jellies made from the rind, and even watermelon rind curry.

The rind of the watermelon tastes a bit like the skin of a cucumber, which is not surprising because the two fruits (yes, cucumber is technically a fruit!) are related. The outer green part can be a lot tougher than cucumber skin, but it’s still very edible. This probably why one of the most common ways to use watermelon rind is to pickle it.

Some recipes call for soaking the rind to soften it a bit, and if you find it too tough that might be something you’ll want to do. But you can also make it easier to chew by cutting it into matchsticks. And if you’re going to use it raw, as in a carrot and raisin salad, you may want to prepare the dish ahead of time and let it marinade for a few hours or even overnight before you serve it.

Remember that the rind of the watermelon is what protects the juicy flesh. Unlike carrots, you want to leave your watermelon whole and uncut until you need it. Try to plan ways to use the flesh before you’ll need the rind; this way you won’t need to worry about the flesh spoiling.

Alton Brown’s watermelon rind pickles have just a tiny bite of spice

3) Broccoli Stems

Broccoli crowns are really nice for steaming or throwing into a stir fry, but don’t be tempted to discard the stems! If your broccoli stems are woody, you can remove the skin with a vegetable peeler. Toss it in your soup bag, and keep the rest of the stem for cooking. It used to be that most people just used the stems for cream of broccoli soup, which is admittedly a tasty dish! But you can also chop the stems up for use in a garden vegetable soup or in a tasty stir fry.

One of the most popular ways to use broccoli stems right now is to make broccoli slaw. I’ve bought commercially prepared broccoli slaw and found it dry – not terribly appetizing. But homemade? It’s absolutely delicious! I like to use peeled broccoli stems that I cut into matchsticks. I add shredded carrot and sweet golden raisins to the mix,and let the salad marinate in a creamy dressing overnight before I eat it. If you like carrot salad or coleslaw, you’re going to love broccoli slaw!

Try this healthy update of a crunchy broccoli slaw recipe from The Kitchn

 

3 Yummy Foods from Scrap | #waste #frugal
Did you know you can safely eat all of the watermelon rind?
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Store your leafy greens the right way and cut down on food waste | #foodstorage #frugalfood
Learn to store your leafy greens the right way and cut down on food waste
(Collage of images from Pixabay users sergio741030, FraukeFeindm, Unsplash, JoshM, and skeeze)

What food scraps does your family eat? What other measures do you take to reduce food waste in your home? Let me know in the comments!

 

Original content ©2016 Kyla Matton Osborne

This article was published on my food blog, 24 Carrot Diet. If you are reading this content anywhere else, it has probably been stolen. Please report it to me so I can address any copyright infringements. Thank you!

How to Hide Healthy Veggies in Yummy Green Tomato Pie

 

A few green tomatoes are to be expected at the end of the gardening season. If you just have a few, it’s no big deal. You put them on the windowsill to ripen, and when they do you use them as you would tomatoes that ripened on the vine.

But what about if you have bushels of unripened green tomatoes?

Of course, there are green tomato pickles and relishes. You can use green tomatoes in soups, spaghetti sauces, or even chili. You can substitute green tomatoes for zucchini, carrots or even bananas in your favourite spice cake or muffin recipe. And of course, there’s the classic fried green tomato!

But have you ever thought of making a green tomato pie?

Green Tomato Pie

Apparently, green tomatoes can be substituted for apples and made into a very tasty pie. The green tomato pie recipe I read says you can’t tell the difference I plan to spend some time later this evening chopping up ingredients for this pastry but once baked I won’t be telling hubby and the kids what it is until after I’ve heard their reactions! If you want to try it too, use the linked recipe or just substitute green tomatoes for the apples in your favourite recipe. Let me know how it turns out!

 

Green Tomato Nutrition

Green tomatoes have a lot of the same nutrients as ripe red tomatoes, though in slightly lower proportions. But I imagine they’d pass for apples a lot more easily than red tomatoes would!

What’s interesting is that cup for cup, tomatoes have fewer than half the calories – 22 calories for one cup of sliced green tomatoes, compared with 57 calories for the same amount of apple slices. Green tomatoes are rich in vitamin C. They also provide potassium, vitamins A and K, as well as several of the B vitamins. By comparison, apples have less protein, fewer vitamins, and more carbs.

 

My Adventures with Green Tomato Recipes

Our little valley is bear country, so this time of year it’s really important for people to pick their fruit and glean their gardens. That can often mean that by the end of summer a gardener will have so much produce they really have no idea where to put it all!

A few days ago, a neighbour sent my husband home with three big boxes of tomatoes, most of which were green. So far we’ve made stuffed tomatoes, sandwiches, and school snacks from the ripe ones. And we’ve made a beautiful green and red tomato soup that I will most definitely make again. I have more tomatoes cut up for a different tomato soup recipe.

This weekend, I am going to attempt to make a zucchini brownie recipe with green tomato instead. I also found a lovely green tomato cake recipe I want to try. I want to make some for our house, some for my girlfriend’s family, and some for the lovely neighbour who sent the tomatoes home. I saw an interesting savoury green tomato cobbler recipe that uses cheddar biscuits – well, you can see I have a lot of stuff I want to make! And luckily we have more than enough tomatoes for our household and several others!

 

Green tomato pie is a healthy alternative to apple pie – and they’ll never taste the difference! | #healthy #desserts #applepie
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Did you find this post informative? If so, I hope you’ll share it with others who will be interested in learning more about cooking with green tomatoes! Share this post by using the social media sharing buttons at left, or feel free to use the image above to pin it on Pinterest. 

 

Image credit: Green tomatoes by Jon Sullivan/Public Domain Images