5 Delicious Uses for Common Kitchen Scraps

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

After peeling and trimming fruits and veggies, we’re left with scraps that often get tossed in the compost bin or the trash. But think twice before tossing these odds and ends — there are actually quite a few delicious uses for common kitchen scraps.

We’ve talked about hanging onto bits and pieces of extra veggies, like the end pieces, and peeling and saving them in a sealed bag in the freezer for when we’re ready to make stock. We even do that with Parmesan rinds, which are a great way to add flavor to homemade soups and sauces.

But there are some other smart and useful, not to mention delicious, ways to take advantage of some common kitchen scraps.

1. Potato peels

Peeling some spuds to make mashed potatoes or potato salad? Those skins might not be part of your dish, but with a little work they make a crispy, chewy snack that falls somewhere between potato chips and French fries. Toss the peels with oil and seasonings, then roast at 400°F for 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Apple peels

If you’re making apple pie this season, or simply prefer to peel your apples before eating them, hang on to those peels. They’re a secret gem just waiting to be transformed into a sweet, crispy apple chip. Roast the peels, tossed with a tiny bit of melted butter and cinnamon sugar, at 400°F for 10 to 12 minutes.

3. Citrus peels

Oven-dry thin-skinned oranges — like clementine, tangerine, or satsuma skins — at 200°F, then use them to season stews or tomato sauces. Use thicker-skinned orange and grapefruit peels to make a candied fruit.

4. Melon rinds

Melon is such a sweet summertime treat. But after devouring the sweet flesh, most of us don’t think twice before tossing the rind, which can be just as valuable. The rind is the firm, whitish part of the melon that sits between the flesh and the outer skin. It has a surprising number of uses, including making pickles, using it in place of cucumbers for salads and gazpachos, and adding it to curries.

5. Herb stems

Sometimes we might save them for stock, but most times after we pluck the leaves from herbs — like parsley, basil, and cilantro — the stems get tossed into the compost or trash. There are actually more than a few ways to use these flavorful bits: In addition to being used in homemade stock, herb stems are a nice way to infuse oil and vinegar, and they can be added to pesto, chimichurri sauce, relish, tapenade, and stuffing.

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

This post has been updated – originally publishd by Megan Gordon in March 2012.