Can I Eat Food Scraps Or Should I Compost Them?
Growing up as a young girl gardening was one hundred percent how Mrs. CBB’s parents enjoyed fruits and vegetables.
It was not unusual for her to be in the garden with her father often asking, “Can I eat that?”
As children, we rely on our parents to teach us what we can and cannot eat, and having parents with extensive garden knowledge is a gift.
It was only once I moved to Canada that I had ever considered foraging and that’s because Mrs. CBB was taught how to by her father.
We plan hikes during the Ontario foraging season and have come home with berries, asparagus, mushrooms, fiddleheads, and mustard greens.
These are foods that the earth offers us yet if they are not harvested they go to waste and compost back into the soil for another year.
Can You Eat Zucchini Flowers?
The problem with foraging and food scraps is that without basic knowledge about what we can eat and cannot eat then we don’t know.
I often find it fascinating to find out that I can eat something that I had never thought was edible, such as zucchini flowers or blossoms.
You can also add them to pancakes, donuts or any other baked goods which is how we use them.
Zucchini blossoms are vibrant yellow with a squash flavour and left by gardeners who aren’t sure how to use them.
Did you know that the female zucchini blossom produces the zucchini where the male does not?
These blossoms are a delicacy in many fine-dining restaurants and are seasonal so the anticipation is high when they are harvested.
What chefs pay for some people let waste away in their garden.
Don’t let that be you! They are delicious.
Hard Cheese Rinds
You’ll only find Parmigiano Reggiano in our house a hard kind of Italian cheese that we love and pay the price for.
Since most hard cheeses come with a price tag left to be desired a little goes a long way especially if they are pungent in taste.
Instead of throwing your hard cheese rinds in the bin consider adding them to your soups and sauces when they are cooking.
The strong cheese flavours that taste so delicious will marry with your recipe utilizing the rinds to their full potential.
Roasted Banana Peels
Often I roast bananas when they are near the time to use for baking to expel as much flavour as I can.
I wash the bananas under cold water after spraying with white vinegar to remove any impurities.
When you open the banana and pour it into a bowl to make banana bread, ice-cream, muffins, cookies, or custards you’ll see plenty of banana juice.
Instead of throwing out the banana peels, I submerge them in 35% cream on low heat in cheesecloth to extract the flavour.
You can also do this in water to create a banana simple syrup by adding granulated sugar or sugar substitute and reducing it on low heat.
It’s amazing what lurks in your food scraps.
This is an obvious one but if you have stale bread use a food processor to grind it up and use it as bread crumbs.
If you’ve never tried garlic scapes before you are missing out on something delicious.
You can find garlic scapes in your grocery store or local market during the growing season where you live.
In Ontario, we can find garlic scapes from June to September in most grocery stores depending if they stock it.
Garlic scapes are the green wiggly bit that grows on the top of the garlic and is fully edible.
We’ve made garlic scape pesto with our garlic scapes and to-die-for bbq garlic scapes in butter.
Eat your greens my friends as they are healthy for you and taste delicious.
If you are a greens lover like we are and enjoy growing or buying beets eat up those beet greens.
You can saute, braise or steam tender beet greens in garlic and butter with a bit of salt and pepper or add them to soup, stew or broth.
When cleaning and chopping your celery never throw away the celery flowers as they are fully edible.
You can use celery greens in your homemade pesto, mayonnaise, drinks, or in smoothies.
We also use celery greens in our homemade pasta sauce and bone broth.
Simply clean the leaves and chop them as you would any other green.
I didn’t know this but the bottom of the romaine lettuce that you can use to regrow lettuce is fully edible.
My wife eats it like a rabbit whenever she’s cleaning the romaine lettuce for our CBB salads.
All she does is chop the base off the lettuce leaves, clean it, and then chop it up.
It has somewhat of a bitter taste but it’s edible food scraps that many people throw away.
Romaine although a common salad green for Caesar salad can also be braised or be added into soups as you would other greens.
Another big food waste in the kitchen comes from broccoli stems which end up in the compost bin.
Broccoli stems are just as edible as the broccoli and can be sliced and diced into stir-frys and soups or eaten raw.
Fennel greens are delicious and take on light black licorice, anise flavour which makes them great for steeped tea and salads.
We use fennel greens chopped finely for just about every salad we make or in marinades for meats and seafood.
It’s not uncommon for me to add fennel greens to Atlantic Salmon with fresh dill, garlic, salt, and butter.
Spring Onion Greens
You may think I’m crazy but some people only use the white bulb of the spring onion and waste the greens.
There is so much flavour in spring onion greens and can be used in place of onions in many recipes.
Often we will buy spring onions at the market and sit them in a glass of water on our counter.
As needed we chop off the greens and use them in our recipes.
The greens will continue to grow as they sit in the water even after you chop them off.
By the end of the week, we use the white bulbs as well but enjoy the benefits of regrowing the spring onion.
Just because something doesn’t look good doesn’t mean it won’t taste good once you add a bit of kitchen love to it.
Another great way to use your brown avocado that you were going to compost is
- Avocado brownies (recipe coming soon to the blog)
- Avocado chicken burgers
- Keto Garlic Avocado Mayonnaise
- Blue Cheese Avocado Salad Dressing
- Creamy Keto Avocado Taco Dip
Hang on to your carrot greens if you grow carrots or buy carrots with the greens still intact.
Carrot greens are fully edible and can be used in soups, stews, broths, or sauteed with other greens or on their own.
Also, if you peel your carrots keep that food waste out of the compost and toss it into your bone broth.
A few years back we grew radishes that didn’t quite produce the way we wanted them too.
While doing a bit of research we found out that we could eat the radish greens like any other green.
Our radish greens were young and tender which made them easy to sautee like you would spinach.
If you are working with radish greens that are a bit older you may want to use them in soups or to make stock.
Another great suggestion we were told about was to add radish greens to your homemade pesto.
In our house, we eat lots of bacon and never throw away the bacon grease since it is amazing for frying and sauteing.
Youll find a small Tupperware container in our refrigerator located in the butter flipper section. (not sure what to call that).
Any time we want to add bacon flavour to a recipe or to substitute bacon fat for avocado oil, coconut oil, or extra-virgin olive oil we use it.
Not only does it save you money buying good healthy fats it’s easy to store and saves you from trying to get rid of it.
You’ll find pickle juice go to waste in our kitchen as we use it for multiple recipes after the pickles are gone.
I’m not a fan of drinking fermented pickle juice but my wife enjoys a shot of it to refuel her electrolytes after she is done fasting.
Pickle juice also contains antioxidants and prevents people new to the ketogenic diet from getting the keto flu.
Other ways we use our pickle juice is for marinating cucumbers or add it to sauces, soups, drinks, and dressings.
We’ve even boiled the fermented pickle juice followed by adding grated red or green cabbage.
Sometimes we add the rest of the pickle juice to our homemade keto kimchi for an added kick.
Food waste in the form of strawberry tops does not need to happen especially if you have a few minutes in your day.
During the strawberry season in Ontario, we often head to a local farm to pick strawberries.
We do grow strawberries at home in our hanging baskets but near enough to make jams or sauces.
During the cleaning process of strawberries, food waste is easy to dismiss depending on how you complete the task.
Some people use a spoon to scoop off the strawberry greens and others use a knife and slice under the greens.
Whatever you do, don’t throw any strawberry greens with a strawberry attached into the garbage after you clean them.
Fill a pot with some water and soak them overnight followed by straining the water into a bowl in the morning.
Put the strawberry water back into the pot with some granulated sugar or sugar substitute to make a strawberry simple syrup.
You can use the simple syrup for mixing drinks or to add as flavouring to your baked goods.
Store the syrup in the refrigerator as you would any other syrup that you have.
If I’ve also got lemon rinds at the same time I’ll soak them with the strawberry tops for a sweet and sour syrup.
Chicken and Beef Bones
Don’t toss out your chicken and beef bones if you are a soup lover.
With the use of a crock-pot, instant-pot, or the stove-top method you can make delicious homemade bone broth in hours.
Peach leaves are not edible however they can be steeped to make a lovely tea that carries medicinal properties.
In China, peach leaves are steeped to ward off coughs and congestion where in Italy they are used to fight warts.
Peach leaves are slender and grow in an alternate pattern. They cannot be consumed raw, but when cooked, Peach leaves have a slightly bitter flavor with almond and floral undertones. Peach leaves contain some diuretic, laxative, and detoxifying properties. – Source
What I found interesting is how overlooked peach leaves are especially when it comes to the kitchen.
I had no idea you could bake with peach leaves and the amount of flavour you could infuse into recipes.
Peach leaves can be used to make:
- Ice-cream, Sorbet,
- Salad Dressings
- Sauces for flavouring
Peach leaves can also be boiled or dried and crushed and used in marinades, salad dressing, and sauces to flavor fish and chicken.
Back a few months we made homemade sauerkraut and it tastes like nothing you buy at the grocery store.
Homemade sauerkraut is crunchy and the juices are perfect to drink (if you’re into that) or as an addition to soups, sauces, dips, and drinks.
We’ve also used sauerkraut juice in our marinade for chicken and beef.
As with pickle juice you can use sauerkraut to make the next recipe of sauerkraut or pickled vegetables.
Lemon, Lime and Orange Rinds
Lemon and lime rinds are great to make a simple syrup reduction to pour over poke cakes or to use in drinks.
We cut and slice the peel of lemons and limes and store them in the freezer for later use in cakes or other infusions.
If we can buy fresh lemons, limes, and oranges on the reduced rack we will scoop them up quickly otherwise out of season they are pricey.
Another delicious treat that you can make with your leftover lemon and the lime peel is a candied peel.
Food Scrap For Bone Broth
Food scraps such as any of the below can be used to make a delicious homemade vegetable broth, seafood broth or bone broth.
All you want to do is remove any of the nutrients and flavours that are in the food scraps.
- Onion peels
- Carrot peels
- Celery Tops
- Fennel greens and stalks
- Mushroom Stems
- Chicken Bones
- Shrimp Shells
- Corn on the Cob (once you remove the corn kernels use the cob in your broth)
Apple Food Scraps
We use quite a bit of apple cider vinegar in our house and never thought much to making it ourselves.
A typical bottle of organic apple cider vinegar from Costco costs us $7.99 for 2L.
That doesn’t seem like much however if we can make it for near free why not give it a try right?
Since we have a massive crab apple tree in our back garden that we often gift the fruits away we’ll be using them this year.
To make easy homemade apple cider vinegar all you need is 3 ingredients,
- Apple Scraps
- Honey or Sugar
Over a two week period, the apple scraps will go through a fermentation process and produce apple cider vinegar.
Food Scraps Are Delicious
Unless you are willing to think outside of the norm when it comes to food scraps you probably won’t use them.
For those of you who are thinking about money-savings, food scraps are delicious to use in SO many recipes.
Discussion: What food scraps did I miss that you use at home? Please tell us what procedure you follow to use them in the comments below.