How to Upcycle Food Waste in Your Kitchen

If you’re looking to adopt more planet-friendly practices in your home, the next area to tackle might just be your refrigerator. 

Food waste is a tremendous and growing problem in Canada and around the world. Each year, 396 kilograms of food are thrown away per person in Canada, and that number is only growing.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to reduce your food waste by upcycling it in your kitchen. 

Make your own soup stock

Throughout history, soup has been a tried-and-true method for making use of food scraps. If making your own soup stock sounds intimidating, you might be surprised to learn that making stock is quite simple.

The next time you make a turkey, chicken, ham, or roast, save the bones. To make stock, toss the bones in a pot, along with a few of your favourite veggies and herbs. Alternatively, you can use vegetable scraps such as broccoli stems, onion skins and ends, celery leaves, and carrot ends. 

Cover your scraps and bones in water, and simmer the mixture on low, uncovered, for 6 to 8 hours. When your stock is ready, strain it through a thin mesh strainer and store or use it as desired.

Bake your brown bananas

It’s tempting to get rid of bananas when they start developing spots, but they’re still useful after they go brown! Brown bananas are filled with delicious natural sugars, making them a perfect sweetener for your favourite baked goods. So instead of throwing them away, freeze your overripe friends and save them to use in muffins, loaves, and pancakes.

Whip up some simple citrus syrups

Don’t throw out those citrus peels! Grapefruit, orange, lemon, and lime peels are packed with zesty flavour, making them perfect for creating delicious, simple syrups. 

To make your own syrup, bring 1 part sugar, 1 part water to a boil, then simmer the mixture until the sugar is dissolved. Next, pour it over your discarded peels in a jar and shake to combine. Leave the syrup overnight to infuse with citrusy flavour, then remove the peels the next day. The leftover syrup is ready to add a delicious burst of citrus to your favourite cocktails.

Cube and freeze your herbs

Fresh herbs add lovely flavour and aromatics to every recipe, but they often come in huge bunches and go bad quickly. To keep your herbs from going to waste—and to enjoy them for weeks to come—create your own frozen “herb cubes.”

Before they go bad, chop up your herbs and mix them with vegetable oil. Then, pour your oil mixture into ice cube trays and pop them in the freezer. The next time you need fresh herbs, simply defrost a few cubes and drop them into your recipe.

Re-purpose your bread crusts

If you hate wasting the crusts and ends of bread, there is a simple remedy—dry out your leftover bread instead.

When your bread is getting stale, or you have only the ends left, break it into pieces and leave them out on a plate to dry for a day or so. Once dry, store your breadcrumbs in an airtight container and use them at your leisure. The crumbs can be turned into croutons in salads, used as breading for chicken, fish and vegetables, and much more.

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