With the average UK family wasting up to a shocking £40 worth of perfectly good food every month, helping to ensure no food goes to waste is one of my top priorities. I know we don’t intentionally waste food, but somewhere between the unpredictable demands of our busy lives and the ever-growing number of food offers, we have gotten ourselves in a bit of a pickle in the habit of wasting a colossal amount of food.
There are numerous factors contributing to the food waste scandal, but almost 50% of the total amount of food thrown away in the UK comes from our homes. We throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink from our homes every year in the UK, and more than half of this is food and drink we could have eaten. (WRAP)
As consumers, we can easily change our food habits and making what we’ve already purchased go that little bit further is a great way to start playing our part in reducing food waste. Over the past few years I've become quite a nifty, thrifty cook and I'm always on the lookout for tips and tricks to use in the kitchen. Here's my top ten kitchen tricks to keep your food fresher for longer, and use up items that may have otherwise ended up in your bins.
barmy for bananas
In the UK we consume over five billion bananas a year. Yet how is it that a fruit we love so dearly also accounts for 20% of our food waste landfill?
Deemed a luxury item during the second world war, they are now available in abundance due to food globalization. Coupled with heavy competition, some supermarkets don’t even source bananas from companies that comply to Fairtrade standard (ensuring better working conditions for growers) – resulting in UK bananas costing 40% less than in Europe’s 2nd biggest banana market, Germany. Jaw hits the floor!
The problem is, we’ve become accustomed to eating a banana before it’s really ripe – despite the fact that when eating ripe bananas, our bodies break down the sugars faster, turning them into energy quicker. Bananas are such a versatile ingredient, from smoothies to ice-cream, cakes to chutneys. As with most fruits, bananas freeze fabulously – when ripe, just unpeel, chop and pop in a ziplock bag in the freezer. You can also find use for banana peels here.
EVER-LASTING LEMON JUICE
Zap citrus fruits in the microwave for 15 seconds before squeezing them and the fruit will yield twice as much juice. Rolling the lemon on the countertop (before you slice it) also helps to break down some of the fibers and the juice will flow more freely when you squeeze it. If you only need a little bit of lemon juice, pierce the lemon with a skewer or toothpick and squeeze out the amount you want. Then rinse with water and place back in the plastic bag in the refrigerator – it’ll last a lot longer.
THE LEFTOVER RICE MYTH
There is a general fear of reheating rice, as bacteria multiplies in it quickly if it is left out for too long at room temperature, which can lead to food poisoning. However, as long as the rice is cooled quickly (ideally within one hour), refrigerated and reheated no more than a day later, it’s perfectly fine to eat. You must make sure it’s steaming hot all the way through (and don’t reheat more than once). Cooked rice can be successfully frozen, and cooked straight from frozen. But, again, you need to cool it as quickly as possible after it's cooked.
READY MADE COCKTAIL ICE CUBES
Summer is (apparently) here and I’m already counting down the days to lazy picnics with copious jugs of Pimms. To save buying the traditional mint, apples and oranges over and over again (and wasting half in the process), fill up a large ice-cube tray with a couple of mint leaves, a slice of orange and a chunk of apple and pour over water – perfect for Pimms in a flash.
Bottled Spring Onions
The easiest way to de-seed a bell pepper is to take the stalk and push it inside the pepper. Once it's dislodged, you can pull it straight out - taking the seeds, most of the membrane and the stalk with it. Easy peasy. By doing this, you'll ensure you won't waste any of the vegetable.
Wonky Parsnips is an awareness-raising blog that aims to change the way we engage with food.
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