It’s that time of the year again, when the days get shorter and the air gets colder. You might see more root vegetables at the farmers’ market or feel that annual craving for a certain pumpkin spiced something…
Considering the 60 billion pounds of wasted food that goes into the landfill every year, it’s important that we all do our part reducing food waste. Of course, scraps should be composted instead of thrown away, but what if there were more ways to use those yummy morsels before they return to the soil? Well you’re in luck!
With the autumn harvest season in full swing, we thought it’d be a good time to share some ways to get the most out of your produce, festively of course.
Did you just make an apple pie or crisp and have a bunch of leftover peels and cores? Don’t compost them yet! There are SO many ways to use those scrappy bits, plus most of the nutrients are in the peel (FoodPrint)
Apple Peel Crisps
With a little time and some spices, those apple peels can make a lovely snack! Simply toss the peels with butter or neutral oil and then in whatever spices you like (I love cinnamon sugar and nutmeg). Roast them at 400°F for about 12 minutes or until golden and then crunch away!
Apple peel bourbon
Pack a sterilized jar with apple peels and cores, then fill with your favorite bourbon (or any other spirit) and cover. Store in a cool, dark place for about a month, shaking every few days. This lovely infusion will be delicious straight or make festive cocktails!
Apple Cider Vinegar
The infamous ACV is actually super easy to make! Similar to the apple peel bourbon, stuff a sterilized glass jar with apple trimmings. Add a tablespoon of sugar for every cup of apple scrap, then fill the jar to the top with water. Cover with a cheesecloth or coffee filter secured with a rubber band, and stir once a week until it reaches your desired tartness. Find a detailed recipe for it here!
Apple Juice or Tea
Simmer the apple peels and cores in hot water for a comforting tea on a chilly day. Add whole spices like cloves, star anise or cinnamon sticks for even more flavor. Strain and enjoy!
Ah, the pumpkin. A lovely squash native to Central America. They are a symbol of fall, and for good reason! Whether you’ve just carved up a Jack-O-Lantern, made a soup, or just have one too many for decoration, we’ve got you covered.
Don’t toss the seeds! Any squash seeds can be saved for planting next year or roasted. To save them, rinse the seeds and separate them from the pulp, then pat dry. Then, pick out the largest ones (which have the best chance of germinating) to store in a cool place till spring and roast the rest with whatever spices you like.
Those messy orange strings that keep the seeds cozy (guts, if you will)? Make for a lovely addition to your stock. They can also be sautéed then pureed with chickpeas for a delicious hummus or chutney.
There are many many ways to enjoy pumpkin “meat”, from roasted side dishes to creamy soups. One of my favorites is in a hot curry! There’s nothing like a warming bowl over fresh rice with naan. Check out this recipe from Madhu’s Everyday Indian for inspiration!
Even MORE Pumpkin scrap ideas can be found here
Veggie odds and ends
Just made a giant roast for dinner and have a bunch of veggie scraps? With a little creativity and care, you can make a delicious second dinner out of them!
Leftover Soup Stock
This one is sometimes called a “trash broth,” but there’s nothing trashy about maximizing your food. Save the ends and peels from any veggie in an airtight container in your fridge. Once you have enough scraps, simply boil them in a large pot of water with any other spices or aromatics (onions and garlic, please) and salt to taste. After about half an hour, you can strain out the scraps and compost them. Enjoy your homemade vegetable broth!
If you’ve ever purchased vegetables like fennel, beets or carrots from the farmers market, then you know they usually come with leaf tops about twice size of the actual bulb or root. Instead of composting them, use them as you would an herb or salad green! Carrot tops make a delicious salad dressing and I adore adding beet tops into my pesto’s for a pop of earthy freshness. Fennel fronds are particularly delicious in a yogurt dip or even made into a salt.
The sky is the limit with veggie scraps, use your imagination and get creative! Once you are truly done with the scraps, don’t forget to compost them so they can return to the soil. Check out our most recent blog on composting for more tips on composting at home!