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Pass the Compost SVP

Leftovers achieve credibility

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Pass the Compost SVP

The price of food is rising, and food shortages have food banks and developing countries begging for scraps. Still, we manage to toss out huge quantities of completely edible food.

The price of food is rising, and food shortages have food banks and developing countries begging for scraps. Still, we manage to toss out huge quantities of completely edible food.

One-third of all food purchased is thrown away, according to a recent British study. That’s equivalent to more than 3 million tonnes of food waste. Poor home storage, heightened concern over food poisoning, silly worries over cosmetic peculiarities, and inappropriate use of leftovers and end bits means we’re likely not much better. Not only does this drive up our grocery bill, but food garbage in landfills produces methane gas, which contributes to global warming.

To prevent you from prematurely sending delicious, nutritious edibles to food heaven, we’ve tapped Hinnerk von Bargen, associate professor at the Culinary Institute of America for tips on turning compost into dinner. Eating, um, garbage never tasted this good.

Gourmet garbage
Overripe fruit
In a blender, purée very ripe fruit such as bananas and peaches, and freeze the mixture in ice cube trays. When a smoothie craving strikes, add the fruit cubes along with other desired ingredients to the blender and whirl.

Past-their-prime apples, plums, and pears can be peeled, diced, and cooked in a pot over low heat until they thicken, for use as a sugar-free fruit spread.

Pineapple skin
Place sliced pineapple skin in a pot with water, sugar, and cinnamon. Simmer for 15 minutes, strain, and serve over ice with a splash of fresh lemon juice for a drink that refreshes, one sip at a time.

Vegetable scraps
Make homemade vegetable stock by taking mushroom stems, wilted cabbage leaves, tomato trimmings, carrot, potato, and celery ends, and even aged cheese rinds such as Parmesan, and boiling them with water. You can easily make chicken or fish stock by tossing in chicken bones, or fish bones and shrimp shells, respectively.

“I keep a resealable plastic bag in the freezer devoted to stock ingredients such as these,” says von Bargen. “As they become available, I just add to the bag.”

Broccoli stalks
Instead of tossing these vitamin C powerhouses in the trash bin, peel them generously with a paring knife. With an inside almost as tender as asparagus, broccoli stalks are delicious sauted or added to stir-fries.

Stale bread
Beyond bread crumbs, a hardened loaf makes for perfectly acceptable French toast (the eggs will soften up the bread).

Or make savoury bread pudding by dicing stale bread; soaking it in milk, eggs, and herbs; and shaping it into dumplings or balls. Cook in a pot of salted water and simmer slowly for about 10 minutes.

Hard-as-a-plate pitas can be topped with tomato sauce, grated cheese, grilled chicken, and whatever you can rustle up to create no-fuss oven-baked mini pizzas.

Wilted leafy greens
Saute limp greens such as spinach and kale with onion, garlic, ginger, and desired spices; and then pur?in a blender. The outcome is a wonderful sauce that can be frozen for future devouring.

Kiwi peel
Seriously, you can eat these fuzzy peels that contain antibacterial, antioxidant compounds. If the caterpillar-like texture turns you off, try mashing them into smoothies.

Potato peel
Place high-fibre potato peelings in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with oil, salt, pepper, and cayenne and pop them in the oven to make toothsome potato crisps.

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