With up to 40% of food in restaurants and kitchens ending up in Australian landfills each year, food waste is a major sustainability issue that community initiative, Hidden Harvest, is working hard to combat.
Hosting pop-up food events in the Illawarra where menus are sourced entirely from ‘up-cycled’ ingredients that have been rescued on their way to the garbage bin, Hidden Harvest’s co-founder Berbel Franse sat down with us to share her small change, big impact tips for making the most of ingredients in your kitchen.
Plan your purchasing
“Before you go shopping, check your pantry and fridge to stocktake what you’ve got available. Writing a list, or using an app, will help to ensure you’re not only avoiding a double-up of produce, but that you’re planning around what you have already. Think about how to design a dish with produce that needs to be used up, rather than with newly-purchased ingredients. It’s also much smarter economically.”
Don’t be a slave to the recipe
“Use a recipe as a guideline, not your boss. If you don’t have a particular ingredient, don’t rush out to buy it. First, have a look in your fridge or cupboard for what you can utilise. This is where a lot of consumers go wrong – thinking that a recipe that calls for a full bunch of parsley when you’ve only got half in your fridge can’t be supplemented with a handful of basil or other leafy greens. The taste may not be exactly the same, but that should be part of the fun and experimentation.”
Use the whole ingredient
“With every step of the cooking process, challenge yourself: do I really need to throw this part away? Or can I use it for something else? Always strive to use the whole ingredient, not just the best bits. If I’m cooking a stir-fry with celery, for example, I’ll always throw in the leaves along with the stalk. If you don’t think it will fit for that particular dish, save them for something else. Parsley stalks, kale stems, carrot tops or other offcuts – they can be very versatile and great for things like home-made pesto or pickling.”
Up-cycle your ingredients
“Say you’ve got some tomatoes that are a bit bruised, and can no longer be used for the salad you were planning. My dad used to make a beautiful breakfast fish using bruised baked tomatoes. Chop them up with some onion and garlic, roast them in the oven for half an hour, crack a few eggs in, scramble it up and serve it on toast. Or make a roasted tomato soup with garlic and rosemary. Tomato and apple chutney is also a delicious alternative.”