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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