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How to use stuff you might otherwise discard?

We have discussed here recently about using the whey from Mozzarella to make ricotta.
We have talked about uses from the leftover liquid from making yogurt.
We each have things for which we like bacon grease (or 'bacon oil' as Emeril calls it).
Many of us put the cut off parts of veggies in a stock pot or in a freezer bag for later making stock.
I use turkey carcasses (but not ones from smoked turkeys) for posole or other soup.
I used to get the remains of fish that had been fileted at the grocery, but so many of us wanted them that the price got too high for me.

I recently made some miso soup. I had the kombu I'd cooked in the dashi and the water I used to soak the wakame. Are either of those useful? I think I might chop the kombu and put it and the wakame water in my plants unless there are better uses. I have heard, for instance, about Kombu no Tsukudani but I have never made it; that would use the kombu. But hasn't the flavor already been cooked out?

What about water used for soaking other things such as beans?

Other than compost, what other things others might discard do you use and how?

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  1. If I've made something with fresh ginger, I keep the peel and steep it in a mug of boiled water while I'm cooking the main dish - you can then throw the water into the pot for an intensely gingery flavour (in a thai curry or japanese noodle soup, say), or just drink it as a delicious tea :)

    1. I dunno. Hounds are pretty clever so I bet many use these tricks. I know they use this one: use a smidge of dill pickle juice leftover in the jar in summer salads (egg, potato). I use the brine and lime juice to quick-marinate boneless chicken breasts.

      We roast all winter squash seeds (acorn, butternut, pumpkin, etc). They're delicious.

      My aunt, who used to make bread as often as I make coffee, would use potato water for bread making.

      5 Replies
      1. re: pinehurst

        In regard to remaining pickle juice...when the pickles or olives are finished, I peel hardboiled eggs and stick a few in the jar. In a few days or a week, I have pickeld eggs. The colors are really fun (from florescent green from peperoncini juice -to pink in the kalamata olive juice).

        I love pickled eggs sliced up so all the colors show on a platter. Makes a fun little low carb appetizer with some salami and glass of wine on a weekday :)

        Note: if you leave them in too long they get rubbery.

          1. re: sedimental

            Late reply but I love---as in, I will gobble three or four if left unchecked---pickled eggs. Nice!

            1. re: sedimental

              put them in the juice from pickled beets -- magenta eggs!

              1. re: sedimental

                pickle juice is also good with vodka in a drink with a little vermouth - like a dirty ivan without the actual pickle!

            2. Im so frugal, so when any bottle of condiment runs out, I save the container until "ready to use". For instance, salsa jars get a little water and I shake it up , and use that when I make tacos, or beans, along with other spices. Also ketchup/mustard bottles get a little water, only a couple tblspns per bottle, and use those when I make bbq style meatloaf, or baked beans. Jam or pancake bottles get water also, and that goes into pancake batter, or some type of sweet batter. You get the idea!:)

              2 Replies
              1. re: mariars

                For the above sloshes - use in salad dressing.

                I cook beans in the water they've soaked in. Then I scoop out the cooked beans and use the remaining cooking water to make soup. It thickens the soup.

                Last year Trader Joe's had Brussels sprouts on the stalk. I discovered that the stalk and spikes were delicious when steamed and peeled, though that took some time. The stalk needed to be steamed for a while until it softened enough to be able to pare off the thick, hard skin. Then I sliced the interior and steamed it more.

                I regard the Adler book as a lesson in the obvious. Should be retitled "Frugality for Dummies", IMO.

                I do not use a dishwasher. When I am draining hot water from cooking pots (e.g. pasta), I do it into the dishpan and use it to soak/wash cooking utensils/pots. When I turn off a burner or the oven on my electric range, I put a covered pot of water on/in. The heat collects in the water rather than the room (helpful in summer), and I then use the water for dishwashing.

                1. re: mariars

                  Great ideas - but stuff that needs to be eater quickly. As soon as you add the water you're shortening the lifespan of the condiment (diluting the acid, introducing other bacteria, etc). It's probably best to do this right before you use the condiment.

                2. I just made a large jar of pickled vegetables to keep them from spoiling in the fridge. I found some dried chilis and surprisingly good sundried tomatoes at the dollar store, so those went in, along with a couple slices of Meyer lemon, vinegar, water, and salt. The peppers don't taste like much yet, but the zucchini is good. I have yet to try the cauliflower, beets, or carrots. I like that everything turned pink.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: jvanderh

                    I do that, too. When we left the country a month or so ago for a week, I still had a few vegetables left. I pickled 'em all. Easiest way to deal with them without waste.

                    1. re: LMAshton

                      And the most likely way for me to actually eat them, I find- much more appealing than frozen. Mushrooms and cauliflower are my favorite so far. I've been keeping a container of salt/water/vinegar brine in the fridge and just chucking stuff in, but it finally got too watered down and funky tasting and had to get tossed yesterday.

                  2. "An Everlasting Meal - Cooking with Economy and Grace" by Tamar Adler is a wonderful read, and often touches on this topic.

                    Check it out at your library for some inspiration.

                    1 Reply
                    1. I think everyone needs some 'go to' recipes.

                      So far I have a meatloaf recipe that Mr Shallots loves.

                      Most of my bean soup recipes are simple and dependent on simple flavor combinations. I'd like a 'dump all sorts of stuff together' soup recipe for my collection.

                      Breads with stuff added are something I'm at least thinking about, maybe not as a straight mix into the dough, but as a rolled layer inside the bread.

                      I introduced a friend to Panang Chicken and she now "Panangs" all sorts of left overs as her curry of choice

                      1. I use peanut butter made from 100% peanuts. The very bottom layer of peanut butter is usually rock hard because the oil separates and rises to the top. I save the hard stuff (it lasts for ages in the fridge) to reconstitute with water for making satay sauce.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: topbanana

                          That is a good idea. I store the unopened containers upside down so when I'm ready to open and use, the oil is at the bottom. Then into the fridge it goes and the bottom is never hard again.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            I guess I did not read that the first time as I don't boil hot dogs. Interesting, though. Thanks.

                              1. re: travelerjjm

                                I don't boil hot dogs either. I bake mine in the oven until they get hot. Apparently this is strange.

                                1. re: Becca Porter

                                  I cook mine in a grill pan or grill them or broil them (often slit with cheese) or, once in a blue moon, steam them.

                            1. Any cheese I don't get around to using, I toss in the freezer (yes, the freezer), to make "100 cheese fondue" with at a later date. It's always different, and always great. Thaw completely before shredding to melt.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: caviar_and_chitlins

                                Ohhh. I like this. I save Parmesan for soup, but I like the 100 cheese fondue idea!

                                1. re: travelerjjm

                                  The only problem is when people want the recipe! And you have to be super patient- add the harder cheeses first, use med-low heat, stir them in slowly, but it's really good.

                                  1. re: travelerjjm

                                    When do you add the rind to soup? I have never had it and I have a rind I saved just for some white bean soup. :)

                                  2. re: caviar_and_chitlins

                                    I don't melt it, but food processor it with white wine and a little garlic and make formage forte.

                                  3. a lot of left over vegetables will go into a fritatta instead of being dumped.

                                    All bones and carcasses go into the PC for stock. I don't use those that have been chewed on but those left over from cleaning a chicken, turkey or roast

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: scubadoo97

                                      Elan the top chef hadda BLT sando - kinda. Instead of bacon he used chicken skin that he'd crisp on a silcon mat. I just looked and it's not on the Menu any longer but here's a link.... it actually sounds great.


                                      1. re: sparky403

                                        I've done that with the skin from chk thighs. To spear up the process I scraped as much fat from the skin before rendering them. Really crispy and not much fat in them

                                    2. Baked a pound of bacon yesty (also a couple of spuds since whenever I am using the oven I take advantage of the opportunity to bake potatoes). After removing the cooked bacon and pouring out the rendered fat into the refrigerated container of same that is always on hand for frying things, I used the pan, without cleaning, to roast some whole almonds which had been sloshed in diluted teriyaki sauce. Once the almonds were done and removed, there was still a bit of bacony/soy fond on the pan. Added enough water to cover it, returned to oven heat long enough to soften the fond, then poured it into a skillet and reduced it until flavorful. This goes into the freezer to be included next time I am making gravy or a pan sauce. An extra plus is that the sheet pan was now almost clean and just needed a little soapy soak, no scouring.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: greygarious

                                        Wow. That is so amazing. Truly no waste.

                                        1. Like that idea for mock-BLT with super crispy chicken skin instead of bacon!?! I only eat the skin on chicken when it's ultra-crispy. If I cook bone-in/skin-on chicken breasts, I'll pull skin off when about 10 minutes from done. Will put skin in cast iron skillet on LOW with bacon press on top... till crunchy... a nice treat.

                                          Don't cook a lot of bacon, but always save the grease. I use it for eggs, fried potatoes, etc... but makes a tasty popcorn alternative, instead of oil, when using real corn kernels.

                                          Can't remember the last time I bought bread crumbs?? My grandmother would always have a big bowl of heels or bread that was starting to stale... would sit till hard and then one of us grand kids would use her old metal grinder to make crumbs.

                                          Almost always make a little stock from any chicken bones... whole carcass, parts, even stuff off the grill. For pretty much nothing, I'll end up with several cups of liquid to cook rice in later on.

                                          Have used one of those apple peeler/corer gizmos to remove zest from lemons... when I was making a BIG batch of lemonade. Let the strings of zest dry out till crispy and then ran thru food processor... made lemon pepper that wasn't mostly salt like stuff in jars.

                                          1. when i make a certain roasted corn soup, i take the cobs once shucked and throw them in water, then boil them together while i prep the first few steps. then instead of using water in the preparation, i use my "corn stalk."

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Emme

                                              just realized that should read corn STOCK. sigh.

                                              1. re: Emme

                                                And here I thought I was the recipient of a multi-layered corn pun. :)

                                                1. re: Baskerville

                                                  Exactly. I thought it was put in quotes for that reason

                                            2. How 'bout cauliflower leaves ? Does anyone here use them?

                                              9 Replies
                                              1. re: scunge

                                                doggy treats :) my dog rouses (often from dead snoring sleep) and runs at the sound of the first snip of the cauliflower bag. then he sits patiently and anxiously. or sometimes just anxiously.

                                                1. re: Emme

                                                  not the leaves, but mine would do headstands for the stalks.

                                                  I figure it's a trade -- he keeps his hairy butt out of my garden, and I'll give him the stalks.

                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                    mine likes those too... the ones off the bottom sides that i don't want... i love to hear him crunch!

                                                2. re: scunge

                                                  I never paid attention to cauliflower or broccoli leaves until a couple of years ago, a cousin of mine kept raving over cooked broccoli leaves - cooked like collards - that she harvested from her garden so now I grow both and eat the leaves

                                                  1. re: Cherylptw

                                                    Same with yam and sweet potato leaves.

                                                    1. re: Cherylptw

                                                      I've used leaves of the stalk of brussel sprouts to roll as I would grape or cabbage leaves. They were great

                                                    2. re: scunge

                                                      I use them, they taste like cauliflower and can be substituted for the florets in heaps of recipes. If looks matter then just use them in things like cream of cauliflower soup which will be puréed anyway.

                                                      1. re: scunge

                                                        In addition to what's already been mentioned, I also use green leaves of whatever type in mallungs and sambols.

                                                        Basic idea here...

                                                        A mallung is a cooked leafy vegetable dish which has freshly shredded coconut, green chillies, Maldive fish flakes, pepper, chilli powder, salt. If the leaves take a long time to cook, they go in first. If they don't, then it all goes in at the same time. Mallungs are a Sri Lankan dish and they're a great way to use leafy vegetables that don't taste all that great on their own - the coconut and seasonings really improve the flavour hugely.

                                                        Sambols, this particular type, are a Sri Lankan dish that is uncooked. Leafy greens, freshly shredded coconut, Maldive fish flakes, green chillies, shallots, chilli powder and/or pepper, salt, and lime juice. Yum!

                                                        1. re: scunge

                                                          I use broccoli leaves like cabbage or Collards. I can assume the leaves can be used the same way. I use them for cabbage rolls and to braise in ham stock. Good stuff

                                                        2. I put the bottom-of-the-box cereal that nobody wants to eat (usually something whole grain and not too sweet) into weekend scones.

                                                          And I'm sure I'm not the only one who throws the hard cheese rind into soup or beans.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: helinum

                                                            I know about the bean soup, but what soups can you throw the rinds in as well?

                                                            1. re: Crockett67

                                                              just about anything you think it will go well with...you just pitch it in, much like a seasoning bone.

                                                          2. One thing I did which I learned on here was to save the water I boiled the potatoes in and use for soup starter water. I also saved my corn cobs this summer and made a great stock. Yes on adding cheese rind to soup. I'm sure there are more....

                                                            15 Replies
                                                              1. re: melpy

                                                                In the freezer. I have a container that takes the dribs and drabs of any leftover vegetable water.

                                                                1. re: LMAshton

                                                                  I would have gallons of water! I must boiled my potatoes in too much liquid.

                                                                  1. re: melpy

                                                                    Most people do, I think. For boiling, say, four large potatoes that have been cut up, I have maybe a cup of fairly thick water left over.

                                                                    The more water you use, the longer it takes to boil. I'm impatient.

                                                                    1. re: LMAshton

                                                                      The less water the most often it sticks or boils over for me.

                                                              2. re: geminigirl

                                                                Yep, saved 2 large containers of potato water in the freezer.

                                                                1. re: geminigirl

                                                                  water your plants with potato water. They love it.

                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                    Interesting, never heard that. Do they happen to like pasta water?

                                                                    1. re: geminigirl

                                                                      Sorry, I don't know about pasta water.

                                                                      My grandmother also used water from hard-boiled eggs (NOT if you've added vinegar or salt....), as well as the water from boiling just about every other kind of vegetable, too.

                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                        Makes sense about the eggs, I save my shells and add them to the garden come spring. I'll have to start adding the water as well, thanks.

                                                                      1. re: melpy

                                                                        Pick up a few when you can -- not only are they healthy to have around (the O2-CO2 exchange from junior high), it's amazing how much of a mental pick-me-up it is to have green things in your living space.

                                                                        If you feel brave, adopt a few of the straggling, pathetic things on the clearance shelf....they usually respond well to even the smallest amount of TLC, and it's rewarding to see a wilted, drooping mess turn into a nice plant.

                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                          My Meyer lemon tree that I picked up from Plant Death Row for $3 and put in a big pot a few months ago is blooming! I'm so excited!

                                                                          1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                            Mine produces for months.So fragrant and delicious.

                                                                          2. re: sunshine842

                                                                            My black thumb and my cat have prevented me. I used to have three plants when I first moved out of my parents. I now have none. I keep all the shades drawn so they don't get enough light I think.

                                                                  2. Haven't done it myself (yet) but according to some webpages I stumbled upon today, you can cut the root ends off of celery, romaine lettuce, and onions and re-grow them. - Apparently the onions can only be "recycled" a few times before they lose their flavor.
                                                                    Also, the root end of carrots can be used to grow "carrot tops", but there seems to be a debate as to whether or not they are edible ...... some people grow them just for houseplants.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                                                      Carrot tops are edible: I have a recipe for carrot top soup (from the very first issue of the now defunct Kitchen Gardening mag) that's very tasty. I sometimes use carrot tops as a parsley substitute when I have one and not the other.

                                                                      1. re: tardigrade

                                                                        In addition to soup, apparently some people use them to make a pesto variation.
                                                                        Unfortunately, (hence the reason that I said there was a debate) searching the net produces mixed opinions on the matter.....

                                                                        Below is a quote from this link: http://topics.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/...

                                                                        "A carrot top, apparently, is not a laughing matter. They contain alkaloids, Ms. Sumner explained, a group of organic compounds that includes caffeine, cocaine, and strychnine. These are substances that even culinary thrill-seekers might not want in their salad. “Effects range from slightly elevated blood pressure, and slightly elevated alertness and heartbeat, all the way to death,” Ms. Sumner said."

                                                                        On the other hand, Harold McGee (at this link http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.co... ) says:

                                                                        "I’ve found no evidence that carrot tops are unsafe to eat. They don’t seem especially pleasant, and other plants in the family–celery and parsnips, for example–do produce defensive compounds called psoralens that can cause skin problems. But not carrot tops, as far as I can tell."

                                                                        Prior to my "research" of the last two days, I had no opinion regarding carrot tops. At present, (since I think McGee is pretty reliable) my thinking is that I'll probably give them a try someday but I won't mix them with my habaneros .... at least not initially.

                                                                    2. Leftover enchilada saucemixed with chicken broth makes a good base for chicken tortilla soup. I've only tried red, but I bet green would be good, too.

                                                                      1. When I'm slicing and dicing during the week, I freeze most of what can be discarded( e.g. green outer layer of onion, sweet pepper tops, green part of leeks, carrots a few days before they turn). I also freeze chicken carcasses after a roast and the uncooked chicken backs (I butterfly roast my chicken). If I don't use the roasted chicken drippings for a sauce, I freeze that as well.

                                                                        Once I have enough of the ingredients, I thaw them overnight and make a stock. Free stock! Fills 7 mason jars for me usually. I freeze those jars and use them as needed. Just make sure to leave some room in the jar for when the stock freezes up so it does not shatter.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. Not a cooking application but for cleaning: save orange peels and put them in a mason jar of vinegar. Let them soak for a few days. Discard the orange peels, pour the vinegar into a spray bottle for an all natural cleaner that smells nice. (Read on the web)

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: pdxgastro

                                                                            Orange peels, Rosemary ( or a cinnamon stick) and vanilla make a great room scent. Put in a saucepan with water in low and it creates a grate perfume for the house.

                                                                            1. re: melpy

                                                                              I used to wait tables years ago and we had to make iced tea...and cut up tons of lemons to serve with it. I saved the end pieces of lemons, oranges and limes until I had enough to dry then made potpouri with the addition of cinnamon and cloves to simmer on the stove top. Great as gifts!

                                                                          2. Yesterday I was trimming a ham steak to make an omelette. Took the fat strip and cubed it and put in a frying pan to render the fat. Then I used the drippings to sautée onions, garlic and broccoli for the omelet. Ate the cracklings plain and added the lean ham to the rest of the filling.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: melpy

                                                                              See, that's just common sense to me. :)

                                                                              1. re: LMAshton

                                                                                First time it ever occurred to me! Granted, I usually just eat it on the ham but my fiancé trims his meat

                                                                            2. I had an opened box of puff pastry to finish and a bag of 10 baby belle mini cheeses to use up. So for the family I'll make a green salad and this easy pull together appy to create a quick meal.

                                                                              Baby Belle in Puffed Pastry

                                                                              I cut the pastry into rounds using a large biscuit cutter.
                                                                              Unwrapped each cheese from the wax
                                                                              Placed each round of cheese in the center of the pastry
                                                                              Top some with a spoonful of fig jam and some with a spoonful of apricot chutney.
                                                                              Pull the pastry up and around the cheese/jam to seal it.
                                                                              On a lined baking tray bake in a 375 oven for about 15 mins.

                                                                              I typically serve these with sliced Anjou pears and spiced walnut halves. Pour some white wine and you've got a nice starter to go with a salad.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                Wow. So simple but i bet it gets raves.

                                                                                1. re: suzigirl

                                                                                  And doable in so many more interesting and flavorful ways! I love recipes that are 4 ingredients or less... but taste like so much more!

                                                                                2. re: HillJ

                                                                                  I would never have thought of using Babybel -- great idea!

                                                                                  (and I'm the one who introduced Brie en croute to people living in the Brie region...)

                                                                                3. My mother uses rice rinse water for certain soups/stews.

                                                                                  Some women use that rinse water as a facial toner (cleansing). I don't since I don't want the starch on my face, but many swear by it.

                                                                                  1. carrot/beet greens in a salad, don't cut off apple skins, make croutons from a few days old bread.

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: bischlat

                                                                                      For my bread ends I just keep turning the into bread crumbs at the end of each loaf. I just keep adding them to the bread crumb container. Several types all mixed together now.

                                                                                      1. re: melpy

                                                                                        ooh thats a good idea too! thanks!

                                                                                    2. My Girlfriend makes salad containers, for the bbq's we attend, from Kitty Litter containers - by cutting off one of the sides and leaving the lid in place. People always get a laugh from it - but it works and we don't have to worry about taking them home

                                                                                      I re-puropse just about every food item I can think of.

                                                                                      Currently I have a bag of the largest Bok Choy I have seen - (from the farmers market for a $1.00 for the bag)any ideas for this one?

                                                                                      I am thinking a pot of beans and subing the bokchoi for the Kale or other green's I usually add.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: sparky403

                                                                                        I like Bok Choy stir fried. Teriyaki, or oyster sauce added. Maybe sesame seeds on top.

                                                                                        I had to think of your kitty litter idea a bit lol.

                                                                                        1. re: youareabunny

                                                                                          Thank - I will give it a try. the Kitty litter thing works well - will get a laugh too I promise.

                                                                                      2. I keep an eye on the refrigerator. 1) Fruit that is getting ratty can go into jello (but don't use raw pineapple or kiwi or jello won't jell).Grapes, oranges, grapefruit, and bits of crushed pineapple are good for this. Fruit can also become a fresh fruit salad (grapes, melon, papaya, grapefruit). Apples can become baked apples. 2) Too much milk becomes tapioca pudding using Minute Tapioca recipe on box or else chocolate pudding or baked custard or cheese sauce (1 stick butter, 1/2 cup flour, 4 cups milk, package of shredded sharp cheddar)---use with vegetables or pasta. 3) Carrots a bit past it: peel, slice, cook, drain, add brown sugar, butter, and curry powder. 4) Stale bread becomes bread pudding with or without raisins, fruit, chocolate, depending on what I've got. Stale bread also makes stuffing to go with pork chops or chicken. 5) Anything becomes a soup or a salad. 6) My great-grandma used to fry up leftover boiled potatoes and serve them for breakfast, ditto cornmeal mush (a Southern thing I think).7) Leftover meat plus cooked pasta plus a jar of pasta sauce makes a good casserole, a vehicle for your creativity.8) Ice cream that isn't getting eaten goes into a pie shell with odds and ends of sauce or fruit or nuts to make an ice cream pie.

                                                                                        I once read an article claiming that you can make pizza of just about any leftovers and that children will eat anything if it is on pizza. Some mozzarella and cheese sauce should cover a multitude of sins like leftover meatloaf or chicken.

                                                                                        1. I just thought of some more! zest your citrus peels, and some people use papaya seeds in dressings, but not me lol.

                                                                                          1. For fruits I will dehydrate them into fruit roll-ups or other things that are delicious and they will last a while.