Tip: Using the whole ingredient

Nose to tail eating is all about making use of and eating the whole animal but is a philosophy that we can also apply to eating fruit and vegetables. Why not, where possible, make use of the whole ingredient? There’s much goodness in the skins of vegetables, lots of flavour in fruit peels and leaves/tops of vegetables can also be put to good use. Reduce your food waste, save some money, enhance the flavour of your dishes and make the most of the ingredients you buy.

Take a carrot, for example, if bought with the tops still intact. Many of us would chop off the tops and discard them and then peel the carrot before cooking or eating. Do you really need to peel your carrot? Could you give it a good scrub and eat the skin? If you did peel it, could you make some crisps with the peelings for a bit of crunch with your meal or save them up with other bits and pieces with which to make a stock? And what about those tops? Give them a wash and turn them into a pesto or wilt them and use them like other greens.

Now look at that lemon you squeezed into your dinner last night then discarded. The peel could have been used to make an herbal tea with some mint or used to flavour the water you had with your meal. Could you have used some zest in your meal as well as the juice? And, with not much effort, the squeezed lemons could be turned into preserved lemons.

With preserved lemons, it’s the skin you want to use, not the flesh. Put some salt in the bottom of a sterilised jar, put a bit of salt in each squeezed lemon half and stuff into the jar. Top with hot water and leave to preserve for at least three weeks, shaking the jar each day for the first week. Store in the fridge after preserving. Wonderful with chicken, in couscous salads, with feta and in tagines.

I’ve even seen people turning banana peels into sweets, transform watermelon skin into a pickle, onion and tomato skins used to flavour salt, corn cobs used to make stock and smoke meat as well as peach stones* used to flavour cream (they provide an almond like flavour) and rum!

*Peach stones should not be crushed or eaten but can be used to infuse flavour into other ingredients.

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