Monday, July 14, 2014

Don't Throw That Away!

“Waste not, want not.” It’s an old fashioned idea, isn’t it? It really doesn’t have a place in today’s throw-away society. Or does it? Mother Hubbard sure thinks it does! Minimizing waste is even part of the Hub’s Vision Statement.

Minimizing waste shows up in practice, too. The Hub composts, and even collects compostables from a couple of local restaurants. They hold classes in composting. (Have you seen Jessica Sobocinski’s post about her experiences with composting? It’s great.) I’ve talked repeatedly about saving bones to make BONE BROTH and saving chicken skin to make CHICKEN CHIPS OR GRIBENES and I’ve given directions for ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS, too. Domestic Diva Barbara has demonstrated making yogurt with slightly old milk and kim-chi with past-their-prime veggies. The Tool Share program lends out driers and canners so you can dry and can extra fruits and veggies and has classes on food preservation. There was even a class last month on wild edibles (a.k.a. weeds).

In the summer, with all the fresh produce that's available, there tends to be even more vegetable waste than the rest of the year. It's a great time for adding to your compost pile. It's also a great time for finding alternative uses for parts of the fruits and vegetables that you usually toss. So, in the spirit of self-sufficiency, economy and sustainability, here are some recipes for using things that might otherwise be tossed out.

Did you know that there’s only about three-quarters of a cup of corn kernels on an ear of corn? The rest is the husk, the silk (not much of that) and, of course, the cob. I don’t have recipes for the husks (though I think they’re used in tamales) or the silk, but I do have a recipe for the cobs. CORN COB JELLY. I’ve never made it myself, but it’s supposed to taste like honey. Wildflower honey, to be exact, according to some.

There’s a lot of waste with a watermelon, too, what with the thick rind and all. The solution? WATERMELON PICKLES. They’re a lot of work, though, if you make it according to the traditional recipe, or at least the recipe I got in the 70s from Toni, an old Iowa farm girl.They're also very sweet - some recipes call them Candied Watermelon Rind.  Or you could make EASY PICKLED WATERMELON RIND, which are lots easier and much less sweet, though they only keep about 10 days in the fridge. And if you’ve got an old-fashioned watermelon with lots of black seeds, you can make ROASTED WATERMELON SEEDS, which are a popular snack in the Middle East. You can do the same thing with seeds from cantaloupe, honeydew and other melons, too. For that matter, you should be able to make pickles from other kinds of melons, too, though most rinds aren’t as thick as watermelon rind.

Somewhat similar to the Watermelon Pickles are RED HOT CUCUMBERS, that Toni, who would be in her 90s today, used to make. They use the huge overgrown cucumbers that get overlooked in the garden and suddenly appear way bigger than you want to use in a salad. They're crunchy and sweet and cinnamony and spicy and pretty. A lot like the spiced apple rings that used to be used as garnish, especially at Christmas. I can't find Toni's recipe, but I know it took several days. The recipe I'm giving here is one I found online and only takes two days. You can use overgrown zucchini instead of the cucumbers if that's what you happen to have. Just be sure, with either the cucumbers or the zucchini, that they'll fit in your canning jar if you want to keep them in rings.

Looking over this, I see an awful lot of sugar added to the throw away items, so, with the exception of the watermelon seeds, they're not exactly cheap. They are cheaper, though, than if you had to go out and buy the cucumbers or apples or whatever to make pickles out of. And they're something different. And they're easy (fiddly, perhaps, but easy) and good. So why not give them a try?

1 comment:

  1. A garden intern a couple of years ago gave some even more practical ways to use "waste." It's on the MHC website. Personally I like the idea of candied watermelon rind and candy-sweet pickles better than cauliflower leaves, but I'm sure her suggestions are both healthier and cheaper! Here's the link: