Let’s talk about reusing, recycling, looking for ways to get use out of things you never thought you could.
I want to start with your fridge. Take a good hard look into the bowels of your fridge. I bet you see a ton of semi used, almost done, but I don’t want to throw it out yet, bottles of stuff. Here is my first plan. Pull out all those bottles, yes every one of them. Maybe even some in your pantry. The range can include jams, hot sauce, bbq sauce, honey, teriyaki, hoisin, chili oil, everything vegan. This pot can include herbs and roots like; older garlic and ginger, just chop it finely. The only thing that is a no go is bottled salad dressings. Dump it all in a pot. Now guesstimate how many jars, mason jars you might need to fill. Sterilize these jars in your dishwasher while you put this mixture on top bubble. Taste what we will now call your Original House Sauce, see if it needs a little heat or a little sweet and adjust it to your taste. Pour the sauce into your jars, boil and store. I bet you have taken 20 bits and pieces and converted it into four small jars.
Do this whenever you find that you can’t find room in your fridge due to your condiment addiction.
Next up is wilted lettuce. I treat wilted lettuce, shriveling veggies to a turn in the sauté pan with olive oil, garlic and chili’s. A quick sauté, cool down and they are ready for a freezer bag. We have now not thrown out something perfectly delicious yet bound for the garbage into a convertible product. A convertible product? Yes, these wilted greens, sad zucchinis, bits of pepper will make a tasty frittata with bits of leftover cheese, a lovely add onto Shepherd’s Pie, pasta sauce and for me, lots more olive oil, a crostini and fresh ricotta and voila, a tasty topping.
When I go to Farmer’s Markets I always go, as my Zaidy would say with “big eyes and an empty stomach”. Meaning I always buy way too much. How many peaches is enough? Well…….if a big basket is a “deal” then more is always better. Then there they are looking at me, waiting for me to eat 4 a day. I give up and stare back. I think onions, cinnamon, garlic, always chili’s and voila, savoury jam.
A really brilliant thing to do at farmer’s markets is to go during the last half hour. Most farmers do not want to pack up there truck with day old stuff so they are often willing to sell it to you at a good discount. Just remember, convertible product. Have a plan of what to do with this stuff. I always come home and clean it all up. Get rid of stems, brown bits anything to make it smaller in my fridge. Some will be for the next few days, other stuff is screaming cook me now before I die! Do it. Listen and remember, jams, sauces, frozen bags of veggies to add to frittatas.
The next most important thing is not to freeze stuff and let it languish there. Enjoy the products you have created, give it as hostess gifts, do not hoard, you can make more.
One last quick tip is to get to know your farmer’s they in turn will get to know you and put special tidbits aside. Ask questions about what they do with products. They have most likely not only grown this stuff but have had good home cooks in the family and know tasty dishes. These lovely people often have what I call seconds. Seconds obviously are not perfect but in some ways they are more perfect. Take jam making, when fruit is called seconds they may have slight blemishes but they also may be a bit shriveled. You want this. This means the water content is low and the fruit flavor is intensified. Ask your famer if for the next week you can get a flat, basket of seconds. They are often so very cheap you couldn’t buy jam for this price.
Veggies are a bit trickier for pickling, as you want pristine product. If making a chow chow or chopped pickled veg then away you go. Don’t get shriveled veg but a blemish here or there is easily cut out.
Making pickles is fun, fast and easy. Start with your sterilized jars, put a pot on the stove with 4 parts cider vinegar to 2 parts water and 1 part sugar. Now comes the fun throw in any herbs, spices you like. Cauliflower with turmeric and thyme, zucchini, mint and garlic, sweet peppers with basil, chilis and garlic. The list is endless and I am sure we will chat about this more through the season.
Boil up the syrup, pack the jars full with veg and stuff, and pour over the syrup. Seal and boil for 5 minutes, let cool and make sure the belly button is down. Follow procedure and be safe.
I like this topic of reuse and I know together we will visit it again.
As always, check in if I can help and let me know how you do.