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Nov 10, 2011 08:27 PM

Reusable food scraps - Things that other's might view as food waste

Use basil sprigs, and tender stems to add flavor, and color when making soup.

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  1. There's a similar thread on this subject in Homecooking somewhere...but I'll add my two cents: I use the stems of all herbs (rosemary, thyme, basil, etc) tied in cheesecloth with veggies to make stock for soups & sauces. Sometimes, I'll add the stems directly to the pot of liquid and strain them out later. Lots of flavor in the stems. A lot of people throw away the leaves from celery but it's my favorite part of the head and I use them exclusively. Years ago when working in a restaurant, we'd save all the skins from veggies: carrots, celery, onion cores & skins, etc to use to make veggie stock. I still do this, just bag them up & freeze until I have enough to make a batch. Best "free" stock there is.

    When fileting fish, I'll save the bones with the bits of flesh on it for stock or if the bones are extra "meaty", I'll fry them up as "ribs" for an appetizer. Catfish, trout etc make great ribs. Leftover coffee makes great brittle when simmered with sugar until it reaches the hard crack stage then poured into a pan and allowed to harden. Ground up, it can be added to truffles or sprinkled over ice cream or other desserts. A popular re-use is to dry the zest from citrus fruits to flavor everything from soups to desserts to beverages. I'll zest & dry the peels and they last forever.

    Use the water from boiled pasta and potatoes to thicken sauces or soups.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Cherylptw

      Agreed about stocks. It's good to have containers in the freezer for: veggie skins and ends, shrimp peels and fish bone, and chicken necks and spines from spatchcocking. And any stale ends of bread can be turned into breadcrumbs.

      1. re: katecm

        An enthusiastic second on the shrimp shells - I make a quick 5 minute stock with them, then use it to cook rice. If you could solve the problem of how to strain out the little leg bits, you could probably just toss them into the pot with the rice.

        1. re: katecm

          Crableg shells make good stock too.


        2. re: Cherylptw

          I, too, save vegetable scraps (which I started doing because we don't have organic waste pickup in apartment buildings, and I couldn't bear throwing out the lion's share of the waste I produce).

          Carrot ends, onions too close to the root to continue dicing, herb stems or sprigs that are about to kick the bucket, leafy celery tops and wan lonely stalks, dark green sections of leeks... I keep a zippie bag in the freezer and when it's full, I boil the contents for stalk. Potatoes turn the liquid cloudy, though.

          When I poach chicken to prep for other dishes, I often keep the liquid -- and will sometimes use it as a base for the veg stock. I keep chicken carcasses and bones as well for stock-making. When I have bunches of certain fresh herbs that I can't use up before wilting (rosemary, thyme), I dry them rather than toss them.

          I'm intrigued by your leftover coffee brittle, Cheryl.. what a great idea. And the dried zest! I think I have just the little jar kicking around to keep something like that.

            1. re: Cherylptw

              True, this has been discussed on here before, but I'm glad it was brought up again because I have never seen such good suggestions as these! Particularly leftover coffee brittle! Wow

              1. re: iheartcooking

                leftover coffee brittle>
                that sounds great
                leftover coffee is good if you use tiny bit in gravy, as well as a touch of vinegar, gives it sass

            2. stems of all sorts, basil, cilantro, parsley, etc. i always use them in soups, sauces and stocks.

              onion skins in stock or soup for color.

              love celery leaves in salad.

              will remember the frozen coffee idea. i only make it for guests and usually throw away most of it! have you baked the brittle into cookies or brownies?

              1 Reply
              1. re: hotoynoodle

                I save left over coffee in a mason jar for use in brownies or cakes. It saves for a week or so in the fridge!

              2. Asparagus woody stem ends. They make a great soup.

                Saute a little shallot in olive oil, add some leek, put in the asparagus stems and some chicken stock - simmer 15 minutes - puree in the blender, strain - yummy

                1. I use the celery leaves in the dish, along with chopped celery, and have been saving the stemmed ends to use in stocks. I use organic celery because it tastes better.

                  I've started saving leftover cooking liquids in a jar in the freezer. My idea is to generate a no cost soup that way. I'll see how that works out.

                  I almost always use leftover chicken carcasses to make chicken broth. I do use commercial broth usually, along with plain water. The bones improve the depth of flavor in the broth.

                  On the stems, I usually pinch off some of the end of the stem, but leave the herbs on the stem for broths I will be straining before saving. I don't save misc. stems though.

                  1. Radish tops as either a salad, or cooked up. Still playing around with variations. I also want to try some watermelon rind options since most of the nutrients are in the rind.

                    My other food waste does not hit the landfill, but my compost heap.