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Zero-waste cooking: How to make the most of your Fall produce haul

Zero-waste cooking: How to make the most of your Fall produce haul

Learn tips to waste nothing and make a vegetarian stock, courtesy from our friends at Philly Foodworks!

It’s Fall, which means it’s the season for root veggies and squashes.

According to Philly Foodworks, you can reduce your food waste throughout the year. Start by buying only what you know you’ll really eat, and find ways to enjoy all of the parts of your fresh veggies and fruits – even the peels and scraps you typically throw right in the trash.

Fall veggie zero waste

Here are some simple tips to help you get the most out of fresh fruits and vegetables:

  • Onion ends and skins: Wash well, then freeze the ends for stock. Simmer the clean onion skins in water for an hour or two to make natural food or clothing dye. Or, steep the skins in boiling water to make an herbal tea that helps clear congestion.
  • Broccoli and cauliflower stems and leaves: Peel the stems to remove the fibrous outer layer, then chop them up and cook them along with the florets. Or, peel them, cut them into slices or batons, and pickle them using your favorite brine. Broccoli and cauliflower leaves can be cooked in the same way as kale and collards.
  • Green tops from bunched carrots, beets, and turnips: Beet and turnip greens can be used in the same ways as kale, collards, and chard. Carrot tops make a substitute for fresh herbs like parsley and dill, and they’re also delicious sauteed with garlic and olive oil. And, of course, don’t forget pesto!
  • Pumpkin and winter squash seeds: Wash the seeds and pat them dry, then toss with some olive oil, salt, and other seasonings and bake at 350°F until toasted and crunchy, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Mushroom stems: Mince them and sub them for half of the meat in your favorite burger or meatball recipe. Or, simply freeze them with other scraps to make veggie stock.
  • Potato peels: Always scrub your potatoes before you peel them. That way, you can turn them into potato chips! Toss the peels in a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper (if desired), and spread them out on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast at 425°F for 15 to 20 minutes, until crispy.
  • Apple and pear peels: Make sure the peels are clean, then freeze them for use in stock or tea. To make tea, place some peels in a small or medium saucepan, along with a cinnamon stick and a few whole cloves. Cover with water and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer on low for 20 to 30 minutes. Strain and serve the tea with lemon wedges and honey.

Homemade Veggie Scrap Stock

Fall veggie stock

This vegetarian stock makes a delicious base for any soup you can dream of – and is a great way to reduce waste in the kitchen, courtesy of Philly Foodworks:

  • 6 cups clean frozen veggie scraps (especially celery and onion ends, carrot and winter squash peels, potato ends and peels, garlic and leek ends, and mushroom stems; do not use broccoli cabbage, Brussels sprouts, or cauliflower, since cruciferous vegetables can make the stock taste bitter)
  • 8 to 10 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)
  • 5 whole peppercorns (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)

Dump the frozen veggie scraps into a slow cooker or a large pot. Pour in the water, making sure the vegetables are fully submerged, then add the bay leaf, peppercorns, and salt (if using). If you’re using a slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 10 to 12 hours. If you’re using a pot, place it on the stove over high heat, let the water come to a boil, then cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 1½ to 2 hours (or longer if you have time).

When the stock is finished cooking, strain it through a colander into another large pot and let it come to room temperature. Store the strained stock in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months. (Makes 8 to 10 cups)

Learn more about getting local, sustainable fruits and vegetables and ways to use them.

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Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher
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