Love to cook? But tend to burn things and chuck half of your beautiful dish in the bin?
Here’s how you can be a more environmentally friendly cook, without using a solar cooking tool or doing things Bushman-style
OzHarvest Chef Travis Harvey has 10 top tips to help YOU reduce food waste and play your part
TOP 10 TIPS AS A CONSCIOUS COOK / CHEF
When fruits and vegetables are in season and plentiful, use salt, sugar, vinegar and spices to store them for months or years. Preserved lemons are a great example – with a simple combination of rock salt, bay leaves, fennel seeds and a jar, you can add an incredible citrus kick to your meals!
Snap up bounteous supplies of berries, bananas and other fruit and vegetables, such as peas, at the market and freeze them!
After a quick wash and dry, place them on baking paper in a single layer in the freezer overnight. Once frozen, add them to a ziplock bag and keep in the freezer for use in smoothies, baking or in your weeknight meal. Frozen lemon juice in an ice cube tray is also a great way to grab just as much as you need.
Dough is a great vehicle for using up leftovers. Combine flour, yeast, water, salt and sugar to form a dough, let it prove for an hour and then you are ready to go! You can make flatbreads, pizza or tartines with some cheese and your meat and vegetable leftovers.
Eggs are another great way to use up leftover veggies (roasts, stir fry, etc). Preheat your oven to 180C, whisk 8 eggs and half a cup of milk together, season and add your veggies (and olives, semi-dried tomatoes, fetta or other cheese to boost the flavor). Pour into a lined tray and bake for 25 minutes or until set.
Making jam is a wonderful expression of the season’s best fruit – think home made marmalade on toast or quince jelly with your cheese. Don’t be daunted, it is not as difficult as it sounds and there are plenty of amazing cookbooks on the subject, such as the River Cottage Preserves or the Country Women’s Association.
- Pesto, salsa verde and the like
Making pesto or salsa verde is a great way to use up your garden herbs or leftovers in the fridge. Base your quantities on a pesto recipe, and then mix and match to create something delicious. Good substitutes for basil include a mix of mint, parsley, rocket, basil or baby spinach, and substitutes for pinenuts are toasted almonds, pumpkin seeds or even sunflower seeds. Add olives, anchovies or sundried tomatoes for even more flavour.
Oils assist preservation by stopping food coming in contact with oxygen. If your feta has been in the fridge too long, drain it, wrap it in paper towel for 30 minutes, cover it with oil and add peppercorns, rosemary and garlic – this will extend its life for a couple of weeks and you will have a flavourful infused feta!
It is also easy to make chilli oil with leftover dried chillies – chop 8 of them roughly and add to a small saucepan with 1 cup of oil (grapeseed works well), bring to a high heat for 3 minutes or so. Allow to cool well, pass through a fine sieve and store in a sterilized bottle.
Add any leftover vegetable trimmings like onion skins, leek, carrot, tomato or parsley stalks into a ziplock bag in the freezer. When you have a small bounty, add them to a large saucepan with a couple of cups of water, salt and pepper and let simmer for an hour or so. Adding chicken or fish bones will improve the flavor. Strain well, and freeze the stock in 1-2 cup size portions in the freezer for easy use.
- Love your veggies
When your bring your veggies home, treat them well – herbs will last for weeks if you wrap them in some damp paper toweling before storing them in a sealed container, and give strawberries the same treatment too. After removing any wilted leaves, spinach and lettuce should always be stored in a bag or air tight container.
Use the warmth of the sun, an oven on low heat or even a dehydrator to remove the moisture from bountiful fruit and vegetables in season. Some of the classic results include semidried tomato, chillis, mushrooms (think porcini), figs, apples and of course beef jerky. Be creative and try things like pineapple, banana, citrus peel or even chilli mango!