Trash Food - 9 Perfectly Good Ingredients That You May Be Throwing Away

We’ve all heard the expression that “one mans trash is another mans treasure”, right? Well… the same goes for food waste. Let’s make that clear – we’re talking about food that is commonly trashed, not junk food. Most people throw away parts of foods that others have found great uses for.

You’ve probably all read our post on food waste and know how we feel about using wisely all the food that you purchase. We always try to make use of every edible part of the food we buy, but we decided to also look around and get ideas from chefs working at some pretty fancy restaurants to see what additional ideas they have come up with and found that indeed, one mans trash is another mans perfectly good ingredient!

Uses for Trash Food

Trash Food

In Seattle, a new law was passed that you cannot throw food into your trash. You must put food into a compost pile. Just thought I’d throw in that tidbit of information. Anyways, no matter where you live, here are some ideas that you may want to incorporate even prior to composting.

Below is list of uses for foods that most people either throw in the trash, disposer or compost pile. Most of these things will still end up in the trash eventually, but you can at least get a second use out of them before that happens. So, if you throw away the rind to your expensive parmigiano reggiano cheese, the cores to your apples, the leaves from your celery, used coffee grounds and even the silk from your corn then please read on. You may just find below some culinary delights that cost you basically nothing at all.

Foods That Can be Used Instead of Trashed

Granita
  1. Coffee Grounds can still make a refreshing Granita, after doing their job to make coffee. A granita is a very delicate flavored ice, something like a snow cone but it just melts in your mouth without the crunchy ice chunks. To make Coffee Granita: Boil 2 cups of water and then add 1/2 cup of coffee grounds to the pot and let it sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Use a coffee filter to strain the mixture and then whisk in 1/4 cup of sugar and a pinch of salt. Pour the mixture into a 9×12 baking dish and place it in the freezer. Scrape the mixture with a fork after 30 minutes and then place it back in the freezer. Repeat the scraping with a fork every 30 minutes until it is ready to enjoy in about 3 hours. Iced coffee drinkers will really enjoy this.


  2. Parmigiano Reggiano rinds are tough and generally tossed. Save yours and instead throw it into the pot next time you are simmering a soup, this works especially well with vegetable soup as it gives the soup a nutty flavor and eliminates the need for a meat based broth. Note: if you are going to puree your soup, toss the rind before that step.


  3. Celery leaves are usually thrown away, but they are the tenderest part of the celery! Toss them into whatever green salad you are making. They also can be served on top of fish, as a side salad or chopped up and added to dishes like stuffing.


  4. Corn silk tea? You bet! Save the silk from 4 ears of corn and let it simmer in 2 cups of water for about 10 minutes. Strain the silk from the pot and enjoy two soothing cups of tea. Some say it relieves stiff joints.


  5. Ham bones and soup bones make very tasty soups. The bone actually adds flavor and, along with the meat that is stuck to them, adds a huge meaty punch to your next batch of soup (unless you’re vegetarian of course). We make a great minestrone soup in the slow cooker and a delicious ham bone soup after a holiday dinner.


  6. Fish cheeks are usually tossed along with the head when it is cut from the fish. But there is actually a nice chunk of meat contained in the cheeks of larger fish like salmon. Next time try cooking this section and see how tasty and tender it is.


  7. Apple Brandy
  8. Apple Cores Homemade Apple Brandy makes a slightly sweet after dinner drink that can aid in digestion. Put about 6 apple cores into a jar along with 2 cups of Brandy, cover the jar and let it sit for 2 weeks or longer. Make sure the cores are covered in alcohol when starting and then discard the cores when finished.
  9. You can use this same process to use up your pear cores, just put your pear cores into a clean jar and cover with Brandy. Vodka can also be used as your alcohol of choice. Use the same process to make apple, pear or whatever your favorite flavor of Vodka.

    In the same fashion, if you have leftover herb stems such as thyme or rosemary they can be added to vinegar or oil to add flavor. But, you will reduce the shelf life of your vinegar slightly.

  10. Orange Peels can be candied to make an interesting garnish. Organic oranges are best if you are using the peels, but if not then be sure to wash them well before using this recipe. Orange peels can also be used to soften brown sugar, to clean your surfaces like a natural sponge (use the white side) and they can also be dried and used to make a nice air freshener with pieces placed into a sachet.


  11. Bananas, we have to end with a classic – Banana Bread. Most people would just throw old bananas that look like the one in the picture above away. Not us, we love it when bananas go bad. Brown bananas make the tastiest banana bread. Instead of old trash bananas, they become the absolute tastiest fresh baked banana bread.

To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

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