Waste Not! Five Delicious Uses for Common Kitchen Scraps

I just moved to Seattle from San Francisco and have found that I still look up Bay Area food news just to stay in the loop. I can tell you which restaurants are opening this week or which local food products are worth trying. So I was excited to see the news that my favorite San Francisco food shop, Bi-Rite Market, is spearheading a challenge aimed at educating people about food waste, and cutting back on the creation of it.

According to the film Dive, "one half of the food prepared in the US and Europe never gets eaten." Instead of getting overwhelmed with this statistic, Bi-Rite Market is taking initiative with their 2012 Waste Challenge: "For an issue as complicated and overwhelming as our waste-disposal system and the challenge of feeding everyone who's hungry, I'm empowered by the ability each of us have to waste less in our own day-to-day."

The market is asking people to send in comments about which ingredient they tend to toss the most in the kitchen. Then the week before Earth Day they're going to pass out recipe cards in the store with ideas for how to use those ingredients. While this is handy for folks who live in the Bay Area, it brings to light the issue of food waste and what we can all do about it.

A few years back, The New York Times wrote a great piece ("That's Not Trash, That's Dinner") in which they explored food waste and what restaurants and home cooks are doing to try to eliminate it in their kitchens. Writer Julia Moskin had some great tips for what to do with commonly wasted ingredients. Here are the top 5:

1) Citrus Peel: Oven-dry tangerines or satsuma skins at 200 degrees, and use them to season stews or tomato sauces.
2) Tomato Scraps: Collect the pale red juices to use in gazpacho or Bloody Marys. Easiest way: Put scraps in a sieve set over a bowl, salt, and let drain.
3) Chard Ribs: Moskin suggests simmering the stalks in white wine and water until tender and draining and dressing with olive oil and coarse salt. Or using them in a gratin or casserole.
4) Melon Rinds: After discarding the hard outer peels, use the crunchy rinds instead of cucumber in salads or in cold soups.
5) Potato Peels: Take large pieces of potato peel and deep fry them in 350-degree oil and sprinkle with salt and paprika.

What food ingredients do you tend to toss most in the kitchen?

Related: How to Organize Waste in a Small Kitchen

(Image: Emily Ho)