Don’t compost yet! Get the most out of your food

On ABC NSW radio 

Don’t compost yet! Get the most out of your food

Tips & hints for cutting down food waste

Use food scraps for things other than compost:

  • We all should be eating more fibre so don’t peel vegetables and fruit unless it’s essential, just wash and chop (eg. carrots, potatoes).
  • There’s a lot of flavour just under the skin of fresh ginger, so don’t peel, just wipe over with a damp cloth then grate. If you do want to peel don’t use a knife or vegie peeler as it removes not only the skin but too much flesh. It’s easiest to peel ginger with the back of a knife or a teaspoon to scrape the paper-thin skin off.
  • Use the tops of lemongrass for tea. Chop the lemongrass or hit with a meat mallet or handle of a knife to bruise it, pour boiling water over and leave for 3-5 minutes to infuse. It makes a very refreshing tea, served hot or cold.
  • Use discarded leek tops to line steaming baskets to impart a subtle flavour and to stop food falling through holes. They can also be put in the steaming liquid below to add flavour.
  • According to Wikipedia, “choko leaves and fruit have diuretic, cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory properties, and a tea made from the leaves has been used in the treatment of arteriosclerosis and hypertension, and to dissolve kidney stones. [The fruit] can also be boiled, stuffed, mashed, baked, fried, or pickled. Both the fruit and the seed are rich in amino acids and vitamin C.”
  • Plant pineapple tops & lemongrass bottoms to grow your own.


  • Learn how to fillet fish. It’s a cheaper way to buy fish and the head and bones can be used to make fish stock. It only takes 20 minutes to simmer 2kg fish bones in 2 litres water with some a lemon, sliced, 2 carrots, coarsely chopped, 2 dried bay leaves, 10 black peppercorns and a handful parsley stems (another leftover and a great way to use up stems after the leaves are picked off).
  • Use green (raw) prawns shells to make a delicious prawn bisque (soup).
  • Kiwi and papaya (pawpaw) both have an enzyme in them that can be used to tenderise squid, calamari, cuttlefish & octopus. Toss the squid and fruit or just the fruit skins and leave to marinate for 2 – 4 hours.


  • Grate dried out cheese, sprinkle over toast or cooked dishes and grill until golden.
  • Left over milk/cream/yoghurt – Substitute sour cream, yoghurt, milk in recipes. Add soured milk to scones or muffins.
  • Use egg white and crushed egg shell to clarify stock (ie. keeps the stock clear because the egg collects the scum that collects on the surface of the stock as it simmers, making it easier to remove)
  • Remember egg shell attracts egg shell so use it to scoop up any bits of egg shell that may have fallen in when the egg was cracked open.

Stale bread

  • Pulse in the food processor to make breadcrumbs. Freeze in airtight bags.
  • Make bread & butter pudding, either sweet or savoury (eg. ham, tomato & eggs pudding)
  • Stale bread rolls – hollow out, bake & use as bowls for dips, chowder
  • Stale cake – soak in sherry, brandy, fruit juice and make a trifle


  • Over ripe fruit

– make jam – 300g over ripe fruit & 300g sugar, simmer until thick or make in the bread maker

– fold pureed fruit through beaten egg white for ‘fool’ dessert

– puree ripe fruit and fold through sour cream, yoghurt

– make iceblocks, icecream

  • Fruit skin dishes – squeeze orange & lemon juice & use skins as serving dishes (eg. fill with jelly, desserts, dip)


Make vegetable stock, simmer for 20 mins:

  • Outer leaves of cabbage
  • Lettuce and other greens
  • Cauliflower stalks
  • Peelings from carrots, leeks, onions, garlic (in moderation)
  • Parsnips
  • Herbs such as parsley, thyme and bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper


  • Use parsley stems in stock, casseroles, soups for added flavour. Simply remove before serving.
  • Use broccoli or cauliflower stems to make soup (with potato, onion, carrot, fennel, yoghurt) or dice and add to stir fry
  • Mushroom stems – soup
  • Reconstituted shiitake mushrooms – use drained liquid for soup
  • Use water from cooking vegetables for soups, sauces
  • Pan fry left over vegies to make Bubble & Squeak
  • Over ripe tomatoes – simmer until thick with a splash Worcestershire sauce, sugar and salt to taste for chunky tomato soup or sauce
  • Over ripe fruit & tomato – salsa for meat dishes
  • Leaves – cook chicken or fish on lemon, lime or Kaffir lime leaves for added citrus flavour (but don’t eat the leaves)


  • Reconstitute herbs – completely submerge in iced water in fridge, drain, pat dry with paper towel, wrap in fresh paper towel in plastic bag in fridge

Recipe ideas to use up leftovers

(website also has some good ideas)

  • Frittata
  • Risotto (add roast veg) & use left over risotto to make arancini (deep fried rice balls)
  • Wrap it – Savoury or sweet strudels/pies
  • Buritto, taco fillings
  • Paella
  • Mixed vegetable curry – a great way to use up veg from the fridge
  • Christmas pudding strudel, icecream
  • Turkey & cranberry strudel
  • Pancake or crepe fillings
  • Stuffed potato fillings
  • Whole fish fillings
  • Pizza toppings
  • Toss through pasta/ pasta bake
  • Fritters
  • Thickshakes, smoothies
  • Lasagne, spag bol
  • Filling for ravioli using wonton wrappers
  • Savoury & sweet muffins or bread
  • Soup

A couple of useful tips from the CWA

Cookery Book & Household Hints

Who would have thought….

‘Iron rust removed by rubbing the spot with a ripe tomato, covering it with salt & letting it fry in the sunlight. Finally wash in warm water.’


‘remove iron rust marks by soaking the rusty spots in the water rice has been boiled in, for 4 or 5 hours, then rinsing in clean water.’


‘Fresh ink stains can be removed if washed out at once in buttermilk, or even fresh milk.’


‘A little yolk of raw egg will remove chocolate stains from most materials. Rub it gently on the stain with a clean piece of linen, and afterwards, wash in clean soap suds. Rinse thoroughly.’


‘Olive oil rubbed over silver before it is put away will prevent it from tarnishing. When required wash in warm soapy water and dry thoroughly.’

‘Keep lemons fresh by packing them in salt and prevent them from touching each other.’


Check out some interesting results of a British survey on the not-so-interesting average family diet –

Posted on January 28, 2010 at 5:35 pm by Brigid · Permalink
In: Cooking Tips & Hints, Radio · Tagged with: ,

3 Responses to “Don’t compost yet! Get the most out of your food”

  1. collin - September 15, 2010

    me and my family are used to lots of veggies in our diet, fresh fruit juices, soluble fiber foods, omega 3 fatty acid foods altogether combined with yoga. This has helped us to stay fit and healthy in natural ways.

    Collin paul

  2. Brigid - September 24, 2010

    With that combination no wonder you’re all fit and healthy, Collin! Can’t beat fresh fruit and veggies with a good dose of yoga thrown in to maintain a healthy balance. Please feel free to share any cooking tips or recipes.

  3. Robert Beed - January 17, 2011

    Just a reminder not to use dairy products that contain any mould. Do not give thenm to pets or chickens either.

Post a Comment

| | © 2022 Brigid Treloar