10 Ways to Waste Less Produce
These 10 smart ways will help you get the most from fresh fruits and veggies.
1. Save Stalks
Stalks from broccoli and cauliflower aren't just edible—they're eye-openingly delicious. Peel the tough outer layer from the steams (save peels for stock) then shave into salads, or sauté, roast, or steam them just as you would the florets.
2. Pickle and Preserve
Turn surplus veggies into a quick pickle to use throughout the week—or a sealed batch to last months. A simple brine of vinegar, salt, and sugar punched up with common pantry spices and fresh aromatics makes magic happen.
3. Make Stock
Save tough outer peels and snipped parts of turnips, rutabagas, squash, and beans; mushroom stems; bell pepper scraps; and outher odds and ends to make vegetable stock. Mix in some fresh-cut veggies to round out flavor and cut bitterness. Cover with water; and simmer 45 minutes.
4. Get to Know Your Crisper
Crispers on newer fridges are often humidity controlled or designed for one bit to be high humidity (sometimes makes "vegetables") and the other low marked "fruits"). Store vegetables that wilt or shrivel in the high-humidity drawer: celery, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, beets, radishes, asparagus, and leafy greens. Berries are also good here, as they're very sensitive to ethylene. If your fridge doesn't have humidity controls, both drawers are high humidity. Use the top shelf for items that prefer low humidity, and keep them in zip-top bags with a few holes slit in them.
5. Give Ugly Produce Some Love
Buy misshapen "ugly" fruits and vegetables whenever you can. While not exactly ready for their close-up, they're just as tasty as their comelier counterparts. Think big picture: The more they sell, the less they'll be wasted nationwide. That's no small potatoes.
6. Use Smart Apps
Clever apps like Ample Harvest connect you to food pantries where you can donate produce (great for people with backyard gardens). Others like Handpick provide recipes that utilize exactly what you have on hand.
7. Try Shock Treatment
Sometimes you can revive wilted greens, herbs, celery, and other items with a one-minute dip in an ice bath. If that doesn't work, turn unspoiled but wilting produce into a tasty mash or pureed soup.
8. Fire It Up
Toss citrus peels into your fireplace to infuse your home with a delicious aroma. Dried grapefruit, lemon, lime, and orange peels work great as kindling—their oils help ignite the wood.
9. State Saving Toward a Smoothie
Put any fruit leftovers—overripe peeled bananas, halves of apples and pears, uneaten grapes or berries—in a zip-top plastic bag in the freezer. When you have enough stored up, blend them into a smoothie.
10. Snack as You Cook
Toss potato, carrot, and parsnip peels with a little oil, salt, and pepper, and bake at 400°F for 10 minutes or until browned and crisp. They're delicious on their own, and they also make great crunchy garnishes for soups and salads.