12 Oct Making the Most of Your Kitchen Scraps
Odd-and-end ingredients such as scallions or potato peels can add extra life to your meals, saving money and cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the process.
Use veggie scraps (such as leaves, carrot tops, scallions, tomato and pepper stems) in recipes or combine them with organic brown materials like straw, hay or shredded paper in your compost pile for maximum effectiveness.
Refrigerators provide the ideal environment to store scraps until you’re ready to use them. Use a large freezer-safe bag or silicone ice cube tray in the freezer to store onion skins, garlic peels and stems of herbs like cilantro, parsley and thyme that could potentially become vegetable broth for soups, sauces and stews.
The resultant broth can add flavour and nutrients to grains (rice, quinoa) and blended vegetable soups. To create an even milder stock flavor profile, simmer scraps with aromatics (such as bay leaves, peppercorns or juniper berries ) prior to straining for freezing.
Add kitchen scraps to a compost bin or bucket and layer in organic brown items like leaves, straw or hay, wood shavings, sawdust or shredded newspaper to start building an effective compost pile. Doing this will ensure a balance between nitrogen-rich green waste and carbon-rich brown materials, which is key for making an optimal batch. To get started with your own batch of compost, mix kitchen scraps with other organic items like dry leaves, straw or hay as well as wood shavings sawdust or newspaper shredders before starting to layer organic brown items on top. To get going simply combine kitchen scraps together and layer organic brown items onto top!
If you don’t own a bin, a plastic or steel coffee can can serve as an effective means for collecting food scraps. When choosing this method, ensure your scraps are free from rotting or moldy parts before regularly washing out the container; this will keep odors under control and you won’t have to deal with an unruly compost pile. Alternatively, try fermenting scraps using the Bokashi process; similar to composting but with different results (making them non-odorous).
One effective way to reduce kitchen scraps is through composting. Composting is an all-natural process in which microorganisms break down organic material such as leaves, grass clippings and kitchen scraps into humus – an excellent soil amendment and great way to lower carbon emissions while living more sustainably.
There are various approaches to composting kitchen scraps. While some people opt for an indoor bin that’s easily accessible and emptyable, others prefer an outdoor compost pile. When using a bin it helps to include both brown and green materials to accelerate decomposition of kitchen scraps more quickly.
Trench or “in situ” composting allows you to bury scraps directly in your garden and let them decompose underground, which is ideal if you don’t have access to an outdoor compost bin or don’t have room for one. However, keep in mind that doing this could attract mice or rats and cover or use another method in order to ensure a pest-free garden.
Some people opt to use an old bucket as their composting container, complete with holes drilled on both its bottom and sides for air flow. This bucket works especially well when using cold composting techniques that require less attention or time in turning scraps into humus. Just be sure not to include vegetable seeds which may sprout unwantedly as well as woody materials that take too long to decompose and steal nitrogen from your soil.
Add them to your garden
Producing food requires considerable resources. Throwing away unwanted food wastes all this effort as well as money, water and energy resources as well as contributing to methane gas emissions – two potent greenhouse gases. To minimize waste production compost your scraps for plant food instead.
According to the house and homestead website, food scraps can be used to feed your garden whether or not you have a compost bin; however, doing so takes more patience than simply throwing them in the trash. To compost without a bin, create a pile in a sunny location that includes “greens” (food scraps, grass clippings and manure) and “browns” (leaves, straw and woody material) of various colors layered upon one another in various layers; turn frequently while misting regularly to keep things aerated and moistened!
Shredding your food scraps into smaller pieces helps them decompose more rapidly. You could add coffee grounds, juicer slurry or eggshells to the compost to accelerate this process as well – and what’s great is this is less invasive than using a compost bin!
Kitchen scraps that you bury in your garden can also help protect against neighborhood cats and other critters from damaging plants, as citrus peels have strong scents which repel them. Slug pellets may also prove effective at keeping away slugs. Just scatter them around your garden!
For those looking for an easier way to incorporate their scraps straight into their garden, trench composting may be the way to go. Simply dig a 12 inches-deep trench in your garden and fill half with kitchen scraps – this allows them to decompose directly in the soil while giving your soil an instantaneous boost of nutrients!
Make a compost tea
Gardeners might already know about compost tea and its numerous reported benefits, which is simply an infusion made by steeping finished compost in water and can easily be prepared at home.
To make compost tea, all that’s required is a bucket and some fully decomposed, high-quality compost (here’s how). Fill your bucket about one third full with water before adding your compost and covering it in a mesh bag or pillow case to reduce solids that may fall out during brewing. If using a sprayer to deliver your beverage, consider including air stones to keep the water highly oxygenated during its time as part of brewing (some recipes even suggest adding additives that promote growth of desirable bacteria and fungus).
Allow the compost to soak for at least 24 hours, until it resembles a rich, foamy concoction. You can now use this liquid to fertilize plants and soils as well as irrigating crops or pre-soaking seedlings and transplants before planting them in the ground.
Note on Compost Tea: For optimal results, only use fully-rotted compost from your backyard pile or worm bin that does not contain animal manure as this could contain E. coli bacteria that could make its way into your cup of tea-brewing solution. Large-scale composting operations generally do not contain as healthy a population of microorganisms that you will find in homemade composts.
Make a stock
Vegetable scraps provide an abundance of flavor and nutrients to broths, soups and stews. Common vegetables used as stock ingredients include onion skins and peelings, carrot tops and ends, celery stalks and leaves as well as leek or scallion greens from leeks or scallions; additionally great ingredients may include garlic and thyme (a few sprigs each), bay leaves, parsley stems or peppercorns.
To create vegetable scrap broth, just combine kitchen scraps with water until they begin to float, bring to a boil, skimming any foam that forms and simmering it for at least 30 minutes or up to several hours – adding meat bones will only enhance its depth of flavor!
When making vegetable scraps into broth, it is best to incorporate as many different vegetables as possible for optimal flavor. There are certain vegetables you should steer clear from however; such as broccoli and cauliflower stems and leaves as they will impart a sulfuric aroma, while white potato peels could cause it to turn cloudy in texture. You should also avoid lettuces as well as nightshades such as eggplants, zucchinis, bell peppers or red beet skins which could bring unnecessary acidity.
Once your stock has cooled, strain and discard its solids. Use as desired or store in an airtight plastic container in the fridge or freezer until needed.