Care2.com has recently come up with 35 tips to repurpose food “waste.” It’s something we think about a lot at Chowhound, and hounds are doing plenty of brainstorming on the same topic. The USDA estimates that Americans throw away more than 25 percent of the food we prepare, about 96 billion pounds each year.
With that in mind, here are some of our favorite ways to eat up that trash:
• Zest citrus with a Microplane or peel into wide strips with a vegetable peeler (you don’t want all the white pith) before eating it. Zest can be thrown in the freezer to cook and bake with later. Peels can be cut into strips and candied, or can be thrown in a jar of booze to make super-easy digestifs like our Lemon Digestif, Orange Digestif, and Mandarin Digestif. And, of course, they always have a place in cocktails as a twist.
• Keep a “stock bag” in your freezer for vegetable trimmings such as celery leaves, fennel tops, leek greens, parsley stems, and if you eat meat, bones. When it’s full and you have a little spare time, dump it into a pot and simmer it for stock.
• Same goes for beet and radish tops. If you can remember, cut the leaves off beets/radishes when you get home and bag them up separately so they don’t wilt as fast. Use them like other greens: sautéed, thrown into bean soups, or you can even make the radish leaves into a soup of their own.
• Cheese rind. If you’ve got a hard old cheese nub with an unwaxed rind (Parmesan is ideal), save it to throw into soup or a pot of beans for extra flavor.
• Save your bacon grease. Pour it through a sieve into a clean jar, cool, and refrigerate. You can use it to add flavor to potatoes, cook greens or eggs, or fry up a grilled cheese. Of course, you can always create a perpetual bacon loop by cooking more bacon with it.
• Same goes for chicken fat. After roasting a bird, use the same technique to pour off the fat, then use your schmaltz stash to make chopped liver or to roast vegetables.
• Peel broccoli stems down to their tender white core, slice into chunks, and cook along with the florets. They can also be sliced thin for a slaw.
• Replant your green onion root ends to sprout a new plant. (Check out this video for directions.)
• Care2.com suggests using leftover wine to poach or marinate fruit. We also like to use it to boost the flavor of our braising liquid.
• Shrimp peels also make a quick flavorful stock that can be added to whatever you are cooking with the shrimp to boost the flavor. Poppy Tooker demonstrates how in this Chowhound Tip:
Still want more? Over at Wasted Food, Jonathan Bloom writes an excellent blog on food scraps.
Header image courtesy of Joanne Wan/flickr.