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Before You Toss It – Ways to Reuse Food

Global food waste exceeds the absurd, with 50% of foods produced lost annually due to excessive transport distances, poor storage, and a lack of initiative among consumers to adapt to more resourceful eating habits.

Still, it is easy to become careless with food towards the end of its shelf life, at which point many items are tossed regardless of whether they are salvageable. But simply doing away with old or leftover items thieves you, not only of a chance to curb waste, but of the opportunity to get creative with your domestic cuisine. Perhaps inspiring you to try a dish for the first time.

So long as is it remains safe and intact, aged food can be used in various inventive ways to create new eats that you otherwise wouldn’t conceive of. These are not recipes of precision. Rather suggestive tips to inform you of  just a few of the many ways foods can be used to prevent premature disposal and increase your enthusiasm for incorporating leftovers into your daily meal-scheme.

Breads and Grains

If your baked goods are beginning to acquire a refined crumb, or quite simply have become rather stale, you needn’t toss them to the pigeons just yet.

croutons

Image source: Google Images via Creative-Commons

Croutons

Cube firm bread and toss with herbs and a drizzle of olive oil. A dash of salt may also be added for good measure. Place cubes evenly across a cookie sheet or shallow baking dish. Now, bake at 300 degrees (Fahrenheit) for 15-25 minutes, depending on the amount of cubes you have. Allow to cool and harden more before use. Store in an air-tight container for 1-2 weeks.

Google Images via Creative-Commons

Image source: Google Images

Bread Pudding

Cut or pull bread into large chunks. Soak chunks in a shallow bowl filled with a mixture of the milk, binder, and sweetener of your choice. Binders may include applesauce, pumpkin puree, mashed bananas, and eggs. When substituting for one egg, use 1/2 banana or 1/4-cup of applesauce or pumpkin puree. For sweeteners, you can use liquid or granulated form, from molasses and agave to Stevia or brown sugar. If using liquid sweeteners, lower the remaining liquid content of the recipe by 1/4 to 1/3. If desired, spices and vanilla may be added at this stage as well. After the bread chunks have absorbed a majority of the liquid mixture, pour all into a greased baking dish and sprinkle with raisins. Bake 45 minutes to 1-hour at 325 degrees (Fahrenheit). Let cool and serve.

If the integrity of a baked good’s stature cannot be maintained using any of the above recommendations, one can simply grind it to fine crumbs to store for use in other recipes, from coatings to pie crusts. Aside from breaking pieces finely by hand, you can create more uniform crumbs using a food processor or coffee grinder.

Aging Fruits and Vegetables

Whether they are in the midst of standard ripening or have bruised prematurely, produce, no matter how aesthetically impaired, is one of the most versatile ingredients to be found in one’s kitchen; at times more so than grains.

Strawberry_jam_on_a _dish

Image source: Google Images via Creative-Commons

While multiple versions of spreads exist, from jelly to marmalade to chutney, we’ll focus on jam, sometimes known under the more broad term, “preserves”.

Jam is essentially comprised of 3 ingredients: fruit, water, and sugar. Some jams simply utilize the natural pectin found in the fruit. Others may add commercial pectin as a gelling agent. We’ll opt for the former.To begin, crush or mash the fruit in question. As jam is best made in small batches, you’ll not want your fruit to exceed 6 cups. In a saucepan, boil fruit, sugar, and water over medium-high heat. Continue to cook until the jam reaches 219 degrees (Fahrenheit). Remove from heat and allow to gel.

Produce can also be used, quite easily, to prepare salsa, pesto, and even breakfast syrups. Oftentimes requiring only chopping or processing and minor cooking.

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