There’s no need to throw away vegetable peelings and offcuts, you can use many of them in recipes you’re already making.
Slightly past-date fruit and veg can also be used up in lots of creative ways.
Offcuts and trimmings
The best way to use these up is to put them into stocks. Save onion skins and ends, tomato cores, carrot tops, celery leaves etc and bring them to a simmer in a pan of cold water with a bay leaf and a few black peppercorns. Simmer for 30 minutes and then cool before draining out the veg.
Vegetable peelings can easily be used to make soups, they have plenty of flavour and if you purée the soup, no one will be any the wiser. Freeze them until you have enough for a soup. Peelings can also be made into vegetable crisps, in this case they are best used very fresh. Sprinkle the peelings with a little oil and a flavouring of your choice (try chilli flakes, parmesan or vinegar), spread them on a baking tray and bake at 200C/180C fan/gas 6 for 25-30 mins.
Slightly old and bendy veg
You can use past their best veg in soups – like this versatile veg soup – or in stews. You can also make cakes, muffins and brownies – like these beetroot brownies. You’ll find a selection of recipes in our garden glut cake collection.
If veg are very bendy and not easy to grate, either chop them in a food processor or cut them into chunks and soak them in very cold water for 30 mins, this often helps stiffen them up a bit. Use carrots, parsnips, pumpkin, butternut squash or swede in this leftover veg & orange cake.
Stalks and leaves
Often the stalks of herbs have a much stronger flavour than the leaves so chop them finely and use them in your dishes. In Thai recipes, the roots and stalks of coriander are often finely chopped and used in the paste, and the leaves are used to finish the dish, like in this Thai green curry paste.
The leaves of cauliflower can be cooked in a cauli cheese. You can add broccoli leaves to whatever you’re making, as well as slicing or spiralising the stalks – like in this spiralized broccoli salad. To make full use of a cauliflower or head of broccoli, cut slices rather than snapping of florets – like in this roasted broccoli, Puy lentils & tahini yogurt or our cauliflower steaks with roasted red pepper & olive salsa.
Carrot tops can be made into pesto, use the leaves instead of basil with parmesan and pine nuts.
Banana peel can be used like jackfruit to make ‘pulled pork’ style dishes, they don’t have an overwhelming flavour of their own but will take on the flavours you add to them. Banana peel can also be made into ‘vegan’ bacon. Scrape out the white pith on the inside of banana peels, then use in place aubergine with our vegan bacon recipe.
Apple and pear peelings, as well as citrus and pineapple skin, can be used to flavour vinegar – put the clean peelings in a sterilised jar, pour over a white vinegar heated almost to boiling, put a lid on and let them steep for 2-3 weeks before straining.
Citrus peel can, of course, be made into marmalade. It can also be candied following our candied citrus peel recipe. Dried orange and tangerine peel can be used to flavour all sorts of things, from olive oil and tea to traditional dishes like daubes.
Make sure you wash any wax off the skins thoroughly, pare away any white pith, then cut the peel into strips or leave it in pieces. Lay it on a lined oven sheet and bake it on the lowest setting your oven will go for as little as 30 minutes or as much as a couple of hours. How long it takes depends on how juicy the skins are and how low you can set your oven.
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