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#TipTuesday: Upcycle Your Food Scraps

Since tomorrow is Earth Day, we thought it only fitting that we share some tips to help you with sustainability. Here are 10 ways to upcycle your scraps.

1. Make stock
Sometimes we don't eat flavor-rich parts of foods because of their texture. A stock is a perfect way to extract the good flavors and nutrients from what might otherwise be scrap. Try carrot tops, sprouting onions, peels, and any wilting veggies.  It's also a good idea to save the bones that you remove from your meats. Freeze those in a Vacuum Sealer Bag until you have collected enough, to be roasted and simmered later.

Tools: Cone Strainer, Vacuum Sealer

Pho, made with a rich homemade stock

2. Use in salads
Those greens that you toss aside are likely quite edible and quite tasty. Examples: beet greens, carrot greens, turnip greens, broccoli stalks, celery greens, and radish greens. Just be sure to research first to make sure the greens aren't poisonous when eaten raw.

Tools: Manual Chopper

This vibrant spring salad was made with carrot greens, radish greens, and beet greens

3. Make pesto
Those same greens can also be chopped up and mixed with a little olive oil - maybe even some spices - for a pesto. Wilting herbs are also best taken advantage of by making a nice pesto.

Tools: 3-in-1 Grater, Manual Chopper

4. Make syrups/enhance liquors 
The peels of fruits often possess just as much flavor as the fleshy part of the fruit. Allow the flavor to seep into your favorite spirit by simply dropping the peels into the bottle. You can also extract that flavor into a syrup by simmering the peels with water and sugar. Use a Cone Strainer to separate the peels back out of the syrup. Good candidates: apples, oranges, lemons, pears, and peaches.

Tools: Cone Strainer

We used this method to make a rhubarb syrup, which we promptly used in Rhubarb-Ginger Margaritas

5. Make pickles
So many of the unwanted parts of fruits and vegetables can be made more desirable by throwing them in some vinegar with a little salt and a few spices. Parts that may begin as flavorless and tough can bloom into soft, bold accoutrements. Ideas: Citrus peels, watermelon rinds, pumpkin rind, crab apples, artichoke leaves, broccoli stems, and swiss chard stems.

Tools: Vacuum Sealer Canisters, Canning Kit

Whole Marinated Artichokes - use this recipe for just the leaves

6. Snack on seeds
Go beyond the pumpkin seed! Other squash (acorn, butternut) seeds, watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew seeds are all delicious too. Use a dehydrator to dry them or, better yet, lay out some of the more savory seeds in your smoker and let it dry them out, while also adding a layer of smokiness.

Tools: Dehydrator, Smoker

Dehydrated Sweet Cinnamon Squash Seeds
7. Grind them into powder
Citrus peels, of course, make excellent zests. You can store them long term by dehydrating the zest or dehydrating the peel, then grinding it into a powder. Lots of flavor-packed foods go a long way this way. Mango peel is a good one. You can add the mango powder to a peppery blend for a dry rub. Herbs that begin to wilt - dehydrate them and crush them or grind them. Tomatoes that are starting to go - tomato powder. You might even go all culinary and throw that bread that's going stale into the smoker. Crumble it through your Food Grinder to make smoky bread powder. You could also go more traditional and not smoke the bread, and not grind it into powder. And instead throw it in the dehydrator for croutons or breadcrumbs.

Tools: Mandoline with Zester, 3-in-1 Grater, Food Grinder, Dehydrator

Dried tomatoes and basil, about to be ground into a powdered base for future sauces

8. Make yogurt
When your milk begins to sour (not completely turn - be smart about this one), heat it to 160°F, let it cool to 110°, add in some yogurt with active cultures, then place it in your Dehydrator at 110° until it sets. Here's a little how-to on DIY Greek Yogurt.

Tools: Dehydrator

9. Make homemade pasta
The great thing about making noodles by hand is that you can put whatever you want into the dough. Wilty herbs work here. Carrot tops make for a really nice herbed pasta. Not using all of your beets, or have the beet peels left over? Use them as a dye for pink or red noodles. That lemon zest powder you made will be perfect for making lemon flavored noodles. So will the tomato powder.

Tools: Pasta Machine

Beet-dyed noodles

10. Make jerky and dog treats
Less desirable scraps of meat are often ideal for jerky. Have a tough cut? Perfect! So long as it's not fatty, season that baby up, dehydrate it, and then snap into it. If tough jerky isn't your thing, grind the meat in a Meat Grinder instead, grab a Jerky Gun, and make ground jerky.

If you have a dog, same idea, but ditch the seasoning. Beef, game meats, pork, chicken, what-have-you: just slice it and dehydrate it. Homemade dog treats. If your dog is getting older and has digestive or dental problems, at the consult of your Vet, make ground jerky treats.

Tools: Dehydrator, Meat Grinder, Jerky Gun

Making jerky for you? Use this Chimichurri Jerky recipe - For the dog? Just the meat will do.

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