Give leftover food scraps a second chance
FOOD & DRINK | April 24, 2016

Give leftover food scraps a second chance

Browsing through a cook book the other day, looking for something to do with a tin of mixed beans rather than giving them away via the OLIO app, I was excited to discover a clever tip within a recipe for Italian bean stew: throw in a scrap of saved Parmesan rind for extra bite.

It got me thinking - could I find other leftover reuse ideas? More cunning ways to get the most from the food we buy? A bit of exploring later, here are my results...  

>> Freeze parmesan and other hard cheese rinds. When making a vegetable soup or stew, throw in an inch or two of rind to add 'umami' flavour.

>> Cucumber peels can be used to deter insect pests.

>> Peel the hard skin from broccoli stalks so you're left with the fresh green centre. Chop and use in stir fries.

>> Rub the inside of a banana skin over leather shoes and polish with a clean cloth. The potassium and oils in the skin will help protect the surface.

>> Use carrot greens (the leaves) in the same way that you'd use fresh parsley. Add to rice dishes, salads, stir through soup or make a garlicky pesto with these nutritious leftovers.

>> Young radish and beetroot leaves are lovely in salads.

>> Grow an indoor pineapple plant using the leafy stump from a ripe pineapple. You may even get a new pineapple one day!

>> Save watermelon rinds to make a tangy sweet pickle.

>> Use red and yellow onion skins to make natural fabric dyes.

>> Stale pastries, breads, crackers and biscuits can be whizzed up into crumbs in a food processor. Freeze bags of sweet and savoury crumbs separately. Sprinkle the yummy mixes over potato pies, pasta dishes and crumbles before baking.

>> Add citrus peels to vodka or another favourite spirit and leave for a month or two to infuse. Delicious in cocktails!  

>> Wash potatoes before peeling, then save the potato peels to make a delicious snack.

>> Did you know that you can regrow many veggies from the trimmings? Onion stems with roots will bear new shoots if set in the soil. Sections of old potatoes that have started to sprout can be planted out. Celery, lettuce and cabbage stems can be regrown if you place the root end in water on a sunny windowsill. Once new roots have formed, plant out in soil for a whole new crop!

>> Wash cherry stones and save them in the freezer. Once you have a decent pile, you can make a cherry stone pillow to soothe aches and pains with hot or cold therapy.

>> Save the cobs from corn-on-the-cob. Gently simmer in water to create a wonderfully sweet, milky stock for soups and stews.

>> Brew a healthy spiced tea from your apple peelings.

>> Pumpkin, squash and melon seeds are incredibly moreish when washed, toasted and seasoned with your favourite flavours. When they're browned all over, add a splash of soy sauce to the pan and stir well to coat. Serve immediately, or add them to salads and soups.

>> Make vegetable stock or broth from washed peelings.

>> If you buy heirloom tomatoes, chillies and peppers from farmer's markets, veg box services or supermarkets, it's possible to save the seeds for growing your own.  

>> Similarly, you can save the seeds from heirloom courgettes, cucumbers, pumpkins and squashes for planting in your garden or allotment.


Any uncooked fruit and veg scraps that haven't been used up by now can probably be safely composted! We hope you enjoy trying out some of these food-waste-busting tips.


Do you know any other tips for using up food odds and ends? Share them with us here or via Twitterand Facebook!

>> Grow your own superfoods in an ordinary jam jar

>> Lazy leftovers meals in less than 15 minutes