It’s a shame that so many food scraps get thrown away. This isn’t just a wasted opportunity to feed the compost pile or grow new veggies on your kitchen counter.
Many of these scraps can actually be used to create an entirely new meal, snack, or as an ingredient substitute in different recipes.
Here are just a few of the many delicious foods you can cook from scraps most people toss in the bin.
A lot of people, if not most people, drain their ground beef, pork, or bacon fat and toss it in the trash.
Worse yet, some dump their fat down the sink and gunk up their plumbing, creating a bigger problem for themselves down the line.
Instead of pouring your fat drippings down the sink or in the trash, you can drain it into a cup or jar and either place it on your counter or store it in the fridge to use as cooking oil or grease.
Fat stored in this way tends to last for a few months when kept in the fridge.
If you don’t use a fridge, you can keep it on the counter away from direct sunlight and heat for a week or two before it needs to be replaced. Bacon grease seems to last longer compared to other fats kept at room temperature.
“Cracklins” Or “Gribenes” From Fat Trimmings
Cracklins from pork fat – or “gribenes” if you’re using chicken fat – are both delicious snacks you can make from saved fat pieces harvested from cuts of meat.
Simply collect trimmings of fat and place them in a shallow pan.
Cover them with just enough water to submerge them.
Render the fat on low heat until the pieces of fat become crunchy and liquid fat is rendered in the pan.
This “liquid gold” is called “lard” when rendered from pork and “schmaltz” when rendered from chicken.
Then, strain the liquid fat into a jar and set the crunchy fat pieces on a paper towel or cloth to drain off any excess oil.
These crunchy pieces are called “cracklins” when made from pork and “gribenes” when made from chicken. They’re delicious salty snacks that are great on their own, but they’re a real treat when served over potatoes or liver and onions!
Since some fats heat up differently, it’s best to keep animal fats rendered and stored separately, rather than mixing different kinds of fat together.
Fermented Foods From Veggie Scraps
When you cut up veggies, do you eat the entire vegetable?
If you’re like a lot of people, you might discard the ends of your cucumbers, the outer layer of your onions, or the core of your cabbage.
Yet, these pieces are still edible.
Instead of throwing the unsightly or tougher parts of veggies away, throw them in a jar and ferment them.
Fermented chopped veggies make a tangy and delicious salad topper, relish substitute, or snack. Plus, fermented foods are great for your gut health and digestion.
There are so many things you can do with meat scraps. If you find yourself tossing out the fat left over from your ground beef, pork chops, or steak, think again.
You can make a delicious homemade gravy with those brown bits stuck to the bottom the pan.
Simply deglaze the pan with some cooking liquid – like water, milk, bone broth, veggie broth, or chicken broth – and agitate, stir, and scrape the bits at the bottom with a spatula.
Then, add a slurry of flour and water and you’ll have a rich, glossy, homemade gravy to complete your meal.
Whenever you’re cutting vegetables or making a salad, you usually end up with a few leftover pieces that inevitably end up in the trash.
However, a lot of vegetable green scraps that get tossed can still be used as ingredients for other meals.
Beet greens, celery leaves, broccoli stocks, radish greens, and many other edible stocks and leaves are discarded in the kitchen.
This is a shame because a lot of these veggie scraps may be even more nutritious than the “good part” of the vegetable.
If you’ve ever had southern-cooked collard greens, you already know how delicious veggie “scraps” can be since this delicious food was once considered to be kitchen scraps.
So, instead of tossing your odds-and-ends try storing them in a bag instead. Add these greens to your salads throughout the week, or sauté them with other veggies for an underrated and tasty side dish.
Fruit And Veggie Chips
Many of us discard our apple peels, sweet potato skins, carrot skins, cucumbers, and other scraps from fruits and vegetables. This is usually because people just aren’t aware of what they’re throwing away.
Fruit and veggie chips are made by baking or dehydrating the skins from fruits and vegetables. They’re delicious, healthy, and basically free.
Potato peels, for example, are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. However, a ton of recipes call for skinning them before cooking.
Instead of throwing your potato skins away, try baking them instead. Potato chips aren’t the only food you can make with the peels, though.
You can shred them to make hash browns or a pot of rich and creamy potato soup. Potato skins and other vegetable scraps are much too valuable to simply toss in the trash.
Bones For Stock
If you’ve ever cut up or butchered a whole chicken for meat, you already know that there are many bones left over once the meat has been removed.
You can make a rich and gelatinous chicken stock. Simply drop all those bones in a pot of salted water, bring to a boil, and allow to simmer for 1-8 hours.
You may need to replace some water as needed due to evaporation. When you have your own stock on hand, your meal possibilities seem to open up considerably.
Making veggie stock is another frugal and rewarding way to use up extra veggie scraps that would otherwise be thrown away.
Toss veggie ends such as onions, celery stubs, tomato stems, garlic nubs, and carrot skins into a boiling pot of salted water and cook for a few hours until fragrant.
You can add herbs and spices like thyme or rosemary to dial up the flavor of your veggie stock. When you’re done, you can toss the veggies from the broth into the compost bin which allows them to serve multiple purposes.
This list only highlights a handful of possible recipes you can create with kitchen scraps. You can make slaws, salsas, chutneys, omelets, and much more all from discarded pieces of produce from the kitchen.
Doing this can help you stretch your food budget farther and allows you to get the most out of your groceries with almost zero waste.
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