5 Delicious Uses for Common Kitchen Scraps (the kitchn)

Original post from The Kitchn here

After peeling and trimming fruits and veggies, we're left with scraps that often get tossed in the compost bin or the trash. But think twice before tossing these odds and ends — there are actually quite a few delicious uses for common kitchen scraps.

We've talked about hanging onto bits and pieces of extra veggies, like the end pieces, and peeling and saving them in a sealed bag in the freezer for when we're ready to make stock. We even do that with Parmesan rinds, which are a great way to add flavor to homemade soups and sauces.

Read more: Save Vegetable Scraps for Stock

But there are some other smart and useful, not to mention delicious, ways to take advantage of some common kitchen scraps.

1. Potato peels

Peeling some spuds to make mashed potatoes or potato salad? Those skins might not be part of your dish, but with a little work they make a crispy, chewy snack that falls somewhere between potato chips and French fries. Toss the peels with oil and seasonings, then roast at 400°F for 15 to 20 minutes.

Use Them! Here's Why You Should Never Throw Out Potato Peels

2. Apple peels

If you're making apple pie this season, or simply prefer to peel your apples before eating them, hang on to those peels. They're a secret gem just waiting to be transformed into a sweet, crispy apple chip. Roast the peels, tossed with a tiny bit of melted butter and cinnamon sugar, at 400°F for 10 to 12 minutes.

Use Them! Did You Know You Can Turn Apple Peels into a Delicious Snack?

3. Citrus peels

Oven-dry thin-skinned oranges — like clementine, tangerine, or satsuma skins — at 200°F, then use them to season stews or tomato sauces. Use thicker-skinned orange and grapefruit peels to make a candied fruit.

Use Them! 5 Good Uses for Your Citrus Peels

4. Melon rinds

Melon is such a sweet summertime treat. But after devouring the sweet flesh, most of us don't think twice before tossing the rind, which can be just as valuable. The rind is the firm, whitish part of the melon that sits between the flesh and the outer skin. It has a surprising number of uses, including making pickles, using it in place of cucumbers for salads and gazpachos, and adding it to curries.

Use Them! 5 Reasons to Reconsider Trashing Your Watermelon Rind

5. Herb stems

Sometimes we might save them for stock, but most times after we pluck the leaves from herbs — like parsley, basil, and cilantro — the stems get tossed into the compost or trash. There are actually more than a few ways to use these flavorful bits: In addition to being used in homemade stock, herb stems are a nice way to infuse oil and vinegar, and they can be added to pesto, chimichurri sauce, relish, tapenade, and stuffing.

Use Them! 7 Reasons You Shouldn't Throw Away Herb Stems

What food scraps do you tend to toss most in the kitchen?

This post has been updated - originally publishd by Megan Gordon in March 2012.

(Image credits: Faith Durand)

Creative Uses for Everyday Food Scraps (Whole Foods)

From the Whole Foods blog, found here.

Don't Toss That! Part II: Creative Uses for Everyday Food Scraps

Brunch Bread Pudding with Asparagus and Sausage

Over the last few years I’ve been challenging myself to use more and throw out less in the kitchen. And I’m in good company. Food waste is a hot topic, and I’m thrilled that home cooks are reconsidering what was once deemed “trash” and thinking up resourceful ways to get more out of what they buy.

Here’s my post on how I use all parts of my produce and below are some of my other favorite strategies for reducing kitchen waste. Many involve freezing small bits and bobs until I have enough to “upcycle” them into a new dish. I’ve found that gallon-size zip-close freezer bags labeled and stored in the freezer are super- convenient, and I add to them as scraps accumulate. The freezer bags last for several years and are easy to open and close, but just about any freezer-safe containers will work too.

Bread Scraps

For a few years now my son has insisted that I trim the crusts when I make him a sandwich. This started me collecting bread bits in the freezer, including bread heels, stale slices and other random morsels.

When I have several cups’ worth accumulated I have some delicious choices: Use them for stuffing, for bread pudding, or dry them out on a sheet pan in a 250 degree F oven until crisp and grind them to fine crumbs in the food processor.

This savory Brunch Bread Pudding with Asparagus and Sausage is a treat, and using a variety of different bread types (whole wheat, white, sourdough, etc.) makes it even more interesting.

Pickle Juice

Pickles are in, and pouring all that great juice down the drain when you’ve eaten the last spear isn’t necessary.

You can “repickle” right in original jar by adding some of your favorite veggies and letting them soak for a few days: blanched green beans, carrots or cauliflower florets; sliced cooked beets; garlic cloves; and more. I even add peeled hard-boiled eggs for old-fashioned pickled eggs.

Chicken Bones and Carcasses

Inexpensive homemade stock is one of the greatest benefits of saving kitchen scraps. Keep a “stock bag” in the freezer and load your chicken bones, giblets and necks into it.

This recipe for Golden Chicken Broth is perfect when you’ve got about two chickens’ worth. And you can replace the whole carrot, onion, and celery stock with 2 to 3 cups trimmings from these vegetables.

Golden Chicken Broth

Carrot, Onion and Celery Trimmings

A good homemade stock relies on these aromatic vegetables, so I never throw out carrot peels, celery ends, and onion skins and scraps. Tough fennel stalks, scallion and leek trimmings and sprouting garlic cloves are also good to add to the mix.

When you have a few cups worth you’ll have enough to add water to and boil up into broth, either with a few herbs for flavor for with meat or chicken bones.

Potato Peels

Scrub your potatoes before you peel them and you don’t have to throw out the peelings. If you plan to make veggie stock, freeze the peelings to add depth of flavor and even some body to your broth.

You can also make a quick, crunchy snack: Place the peels on a sheet pan, spray with olive oil cooking spray and sprinkle with sea salt, then roast in a 400 degree F oven until browned and crisp, about 20 minutes. Enjoy them warm!

Herb Stems

Most recipes call for just the tender leaves, but herb stems are packed with terrific flavor as well. Parsley and thyme stems are excellent to freeze with your stock ingredients. Rosemary, dill and basil are a bit strong for stock but are perfect for infusing into tea or other beverages.

Try using stems in place of whole sprigs in recipes like this Herbal Sun Tea.


Herbal Sun Tea

Bacon Grease

I try never to throw out the fat that’s rendered after I cook bacon. I pour it into a glass jar, seal the jar and store it in the refrigerator; it keeps for months.

I love to add it to the oil I use to fry chicken — even a small amount adds wonderful flavor and aroma. It’s also great for roasting potatoes or cooking eggs.

Cookie Crumbs

There’re always some crushed cookies left behind after my family finishes a box or batch of cookies. I store the uneaten fragments in an airtight jar in the cabinet if they’re crisp and dry or in a small zip-close bag in the freezer if they’re moist.

I add whatever I have to the mix when I make a graham-cracker pie crust or streusel toppings. You can also grind them in the food processor and use them to dust the tops of muffins or quick breads before baking.

These yummy Pumpkin Cream Cheese Truffles calls for two different kinds of cookie crumbs and includes them in both the filling and as a garnish — pretty resourceful!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Truffles

What are your favorite uses for kitchen scraps?