Grow Gather Enjoy: reducing food waste

Showing posts with label reducing food waste. Show all posts
Showing posts with label reducing food waste. Show all posts

6 ways to Preserve Oranges

20 September 2018
When we lived in Adelaide we had an amazing Washington Navel orange tree. It was a prolific fruiter and the taste, when the fruit was left on the tree until late in the season, was amazing. Both my girls loved sitting under the canopy of the tree and eating them just like they would an apple. 

The fruit would ripen around late May - early June but would hold on the tree until late September getting sweeter and juicier as it hung around. This made for a great staggered harvest across the whole winter, which was great.

However, after a winter storm or particularly windy day we'd often have a big drop onto the ground. And of course towards the end of the season we were often left with quite a large harvest to deal with. So, I had to build my repertoire of orange uses and ways to preserve them.

Orange tree with potential harvest.

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Meal Planning

13 September 2018
Meal planning can be a divisive topic. There are those who love them (hands up over here) and those that aren't too sold.

I think the key, for me, is flexibility. If I viewed my meal plan like a 'must do' then it would not work. The way I find it works for me is thinking of it like an optional guideline - there if I need it but no worries if I want to 'go rogue'.

Cookbooks for inspiration if you need them.

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Stuffed Mexican Rolls (or another way to use up bread that's nearly past it)

21 August 2018
I got back from a weekend away at the snow (the reason for no Sunday post) to find some sad looking rolls that I forgot about. I had meant to pop them in the freezer but in my organising to head away with two small kiddos it somehow slipped my mind!

I really do so I was trying to think up a way to use them for dinner that didn't involve heating them with soup. I feared that even some generous warmth wouldn't quite be enough. I also had some black beans in the fridge in need of quick use and an idea was born: Stuffed Mexican Rolls.

Stuffed Mexican Rolls

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Plastic Free July

03 July 2018
This month I'm joining in on Plastic Free July. I've done the challenge in years passed and I find the challenge period a good motivator to look at what I'm up to and where I might want to make further changes.

Overall I'd say I'm pretty conscious of trying to reduce packaging waste. BUT I definitely get into a routine of buying and doing certain things without reviewing them. So the challenge is a great way to take stock and set new goals.


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Baking Bread: no fancy equipment required

28 June 2018
When I first started baking bread I used what I had on hand. However, in the back of my head I was thinking I'd need to upgrade to some 'proper' equipment if I got into the swing of things.

I would often eye off different woven and linen lined bannetons. I researched lames and bench scrappers and all those things. I even looked at different bread bins and the best options to store my loaves.

Homemade sourdough.

Alongside my adventures in bread baking I also started to move towards a stronger connection to my values and how these underpinned my everyday living. A strong value for me is around reducing waste and conscious consumer purchasing. So, I started to question these ideas around what I thought I needed to bake bread. Now many years later I'm still just using what I have on hand.

I thought I'd run through some of the things I use. Hopefully this is useful for those out there doing the same to know that you aren't alone in not owning all the beautiful bread things. And also, for budding bakers I hope this shows that you can start right now, you don't have to wait until you get the right 'insert coveted baking item here' to get started.

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Using up your savoury preserves

19 June 2018
Preserving up your garden bounty, foraging windfalls or market bargains is a great way to extend the availability of seasonal ingredients. Personally I find preserving a little addictive and each season I love to experiment with a few new pickles, relishes and the like.

If you too enjoy preserving your own or even just purchasing unique preserves on your foodie jaunts you might find a stockpile in the cupboard or a few half used jars in the fridge. There is only so many roast meat and relish sandwiches one can have so what to do with these pantry preserves? Here are a few ideas to give you some inspiration.

Rhubarb and cranberry chutney.

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Make ahead mirepoix

22 May 2018
Do you start off countless dishes with a mirepoix, a soffrito or the 'holy trinity'? Not sure what I'm talking about? Read on....

In many cuisines there is a common thread of starting a dish by sauteing particularly aromatic vegetables in oil or butter. This step begins the flavour foundation of a meal. The French use a Mirepoix: onion, carrot and celery. The Italians use the same and call it Soffrito (although technically this refers to the combination after it's been sauteed). In Cajun and Creole cooking they sub out the carrot for capsicum. What they all have in common is a mix of highly aromatic vegetables that lift the background flavours of seemingly simple dishes.


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Recycle: Food Waste Part 4

20 May 2018
Some food waste is inevitable. Even if it's just the bits of your food that you can't eat and can't reuse for another purpose. Realistically though, things get lost in the back of the fridge, plans change and our best intentions are just that.

Once you get to this point of the life cycle of your food you can still reduce waste. Personally I think food has only gone to waste if it ends up in the garbage bin. There are plenty of ways that you can use the resource that is inedible food.

Hello ladies.

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Reuse: Food Waste Part 3

17 May 2018
Now that you've got your food home, after planing and shopping with some food waste awareness, it's time to eat it. But what to do if the plans go awry? What extra steps can we take to keep food waste to a minimum?

Confession time: finding useful ways to use up bits of leftover food is a bit of an obsession of mine. I'm always saving random bits of food in the fridge or freezer to reuse at a later date.

The tips below cover using up food that is not going to get used up in time and also using up the bits of food that sometimes get left behind. Please share any other ideas in the comments below - I'm keen to learn a few new strategies myself.


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Reduce: Food Waste Part 2

13 May 2018
Many decisions we make around purchasing, storing and using our food can help us to reduce food waste. This is kind of like our first line of defense - a little planning and awareness here mean less to deal with down the line.

The statistics I shared the other week showed that one out of five shopping bags of food go to waste. Sometimes life happens, our best laid plans go awry and things get lost in the back of the fridge - but the more awareness at this stage the better.

Today I want to talk about planning before we shop, storing food and share a few food safety points.

Pantry storage.

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Food Waste Part 1

10 May 2018
Food waste is full of startling statistics as I shared in a. Sometimes statistics don't tell the whole picture, sometimes they can be overwhelming and leave us feeling a little helpless. There are many parts of the food production cycle that we can't impact on directly. However, there are many things that we can do at a household level.

Reducing food waste is something that we do around these parts pretty regularly. The reality is that there will be some food waste - even if it's just the inedible bits of food. So, we are all about aiming for less waste not necessarily no waste.

Over a series of posts I'd like to dig a little into food waste - where it happens in the household and what we can do about reducing it. I'll also dedicate a post to utilising any food waste that we do have so that it is turned into a resource rather than a waste (shout out to Chris from for highlighting this very important point on my  on food waste).

I thought I'd break this series down into three main areas:
  • Reduce - what steps can we take to create less waste?
  • Reuse - if food needs to be used up or repurposed what can we do with it?
  • Recycle - how can we turn food waste into a resource?
Lettuce and coriander (gratuitous garden pic)

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Food waste: the Australian picture

03 May 2018
Something a little different today. I was doing some research on current statistics into food waste in Australia and I found this interesting infographic. So, I thought I'd share it with you.

There is a lot of information in the pic so I'll leave it at that today. I am planning to write a little more on this topic so consider it a teaser....

Update 29 May 2018: Here is the full food waste series


Reuse: Part 3



Do Something About Food Waste
Do Something About Food Waste infographic by lunchalot

Do these statistics shock you?
No one's perfect of course but do you struggle with food waste or feel you have it pretty in hand?
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Pesto made with breadcrumbs

15 April 2018
Pesto is a much used condiment around these parts. Each autumn I like to blitz up a big batch and freeze it to use throughout the year.

Pesto is so handy to have around, and of course pesto made from scratch is so much tastier than the jarred stuff. Pesto stirred through pasta has got to be the ultimate quick dinner, but don't stop there because it's so versatile. Here some of the ways we put it to use:

  • Spread it on the base of a pizza instead of tomato sauce
  • Add to scrambled eggs to make 'green' eggs
  • Dollop on top of soup
  • Stir through white sauce for lasagne or pimped-up corned beef
  • Use as a dip by stirring through some extra oil or something creamy
  • Pesto mayonnaise potato salad....yummo!

Purple and green basil

Each year is generally a little different as I play around with which nut to use or what to use instead. It's normally a case of what I have on hand. This year the cupboard was particularly bare of all things nut and seed like. But then my memory tugged on something that I had read or heard somewhere about making pesto with breadcrumbs and so I thought I'd give that a go.

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Making your own vinegar (without a mother)

05 April 2018
One of the jobs in the kitchen recently was to replenish my stock of apple (scrap) cider vinegar. I stumbled across the concept of fruit scrap vinegar while reading Sandor Katz's Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation many moons ago. I liked the idea of turning food scraps into something useful and also adding another made from scratch item to the pantry. It was a little while however until I took action and attempted my own (as you know, I don't like to jump into things too quickly!).

My first attempt was using some quince scraps from the garden after making a batch of quince paste. Unfortunately it was not the success I had planned. Bits of the fruit bobbed to the top and I started colonising a whole colourful community of mould. Off to the compost pile...


I love the 'star' when you cut apples this way.

I really wanted to give apple scrap vinegar a go so I saved peels, cores and discarded bits and pieces  in a bag in the freezer until I had enough to attempt take two. Learning from my mistakes I ensured the fruit stayed submerged using a piece of plastic lid cut to size for my jar. Success this time, and it's been a regular on the made from scratch list ever since.

The process itself takes a few weeks but requires very minimal effort. Basically you dissolve a little sugar in some boiling water, then top up with room temp water and pop in your fruit scraps. Add something to the top to ensure it all stays submerged and cover with some muslin, a clean chux or a tea towel to keep bits out and allow gas to escape. Then leave it for the microbes to do their thing.

I generally use a ratio of 1-2 Tablespoons of sugar, about a kilogram of apple scraps and enough water to cover. The more apple scraps you use the stronger the apple flavour, but you can use less and either make a smaller batch or have a more subtle apple flavour. If the water where you live is heavily chlorinated you can pour some into a jug and sit out on the bench overnight before you make your batch. I don't find I need to do this where I live. If you have rain water to use, all the better.


Apple scraps from the freezer - not the most photogenic things!


For the first week it's a good idea to have a little look each day and give your mix a stir. This adds extra air, helps the microbes start doing their thing and reduces the chance of surface mold forming before the 'good' bugs have taken a hold. Once the ferment stops actively bubbling - usually close to two weeks around here but it will depend on temperature etc - you can strain out the apple bits with a fine sieve or muslin (or clean chux) lined colander. Pop your vinegar into bottles or whatever you plan to store in and leave for another week or two with the lids off, but covered loosely.

You can taste test along different steps of the process to get an idea of how things are changing. The acidity and flavour will continue to change over time.

I'd recommend checking out Sandor Katz's books if you are interested in learning more about fermentation and how to do it. He is definitely the go-to guy in all things fermenting. There is also a great how to on the for making your own scrap vinegar if you need to do a little further research before diving in.

I've made a few batches of the apple cider vinegar successfully since my first attempt and also given the recipe a go with pineapple scraps and mango skins. Both worked well and created a fruity vinegar great for adding a tang to salads and dressings. You can also use fruit scrap vinegars in any home-made cleaners or hair products.

Mango vinegar - you can see a 'mother' forming in the corner.


It's not advisable to use home-made vinegar for preserving that you are not going to keep refrigerated as you do need a minimum acidity in shelf stable preserves to ensure they keep the nasty bugs at bay. But otherwise fruit scrap vinegar can be substituted with the bought stuff wherever you like.

Fruit scrap vinegar is a great way to reuse kitchen waste and a ridiculously frugal ways to stock the pantry with flavoured vinegars of all kinds. So, what are you waiting for?

Have you ever tried making vinegar at home?
Any other ways that you use up your fruit scraps?
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Using up your bread scraps: reducing food waste

22 March 2018
Using as much of a food as possible can extend to so much more than 'nose to tail' eating. For me it fits with my values around respecting the resources that have gone into making the things we eat and reducing food waste.

Since making my own bread we often have scraps around. Sometimes it's the end of a loaf that's gone hard before being used up or the uneaten crusts that the kiddos leave behind and even the crumbs on the board after slicing up a loaf. None of the ideas below are ground breaking but they are so simple to do, not to mention frugal too. They are also great strategies to implement if you are keen on reducing your kitchen food waste.

And probably most importantly they simply taste good.

Croutons

What's not to love about crispy tasty bite sized bits of bread? I make croutons from any chunks of leftover bread, including the aforementioned discarded crusts and petrified bread ends. I simply chop into bite sized pieces and pop into a container until I'm ready to bake them up, which is usually when I have the oven going for something else. Once you are ready to make them simply spread on a baking tray, drizzle with a little oil and sprinkle with seasoning of choice. Then pop them in a moderate or low oven to toast away – do watch them as they brown pretty quickly. Toss them on your salads or soups or do as my four year old loves to do and simply snack on them straight from the container.

Crunchy bread goodness

Adding to meals

If you want to skip all that crouton making palaver here are a couple of easy ways to use up chopped up leftover bread:

  • Sprinkle on top of any cheese topped dish destined for the oven
  • Strata – think savoury bread and butter pudding or fritatta with chunks of bread in it. It's a popular breakfast dish in the US but I think it's good any time of the day
  • Bread and butter pudding - an oldie but a goodie, I like to add some stewed or preserved fruit for a bit of a flavour lift.

Breadcrumbs

I can't tell you the last time I actually bought breadcrumbs. These days I simply scrape up the crumbs left behind on the bread board or in the bottom of the bread bag and store in an airtight container in the cupboard or freezer. I also add any crumbs from crackers or crispbreads to the mix too. These are an easy substitute for the bought variety and do add up surprisingly quickly. Home collected bread crumbs are usually a little bigger and less uniform than the commercial variety but I just call them rustic and go with it. If you can be bothered or are using a recipe that calls for a fine crumb they can be whizzed up in the food processor to make them a little finer.

Home 'harvested' breadcrumbs

Tasty tip - home collected breadcrumbs make great pangratatto for sprinkling on your pasta or veg for an added texture boost.

So there you have it. A couple of simple strategies to turn crusty bits of bread into tasty kitchen goodies.

Are you working on reducing your kitchen food waste?
Got any other ideas for using up those crusty bread bits?
Does anyone else out there collect their breadcrumbs or am I on my own on this one?
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