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Old 06-19-2012, 05:55 PM   #11
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Default Some useful hints on reducing Food Waste

Some useful hints on reducing Food Waste

This is a subject that has always been very close to my heart. Having grown up in East Africa, I learned pretty early on that there is no such thing as true food waste. Few things can't be used twice, reducing your cost of living, waste disposal and basically making the most of every morsel of food you have paid for.

Food Waste Soup, sounds delicious doesn't it and yet, this is one of the single most economical ways of utilising all the vegetable peelings that (hopefully) otherwise will make straight for the compost heap. It doesn't require intelligence or require you to purchase anything, if you do as we have done for years now.

Everytime you cook some vegetables, put all the peelings into a tub and freeze it. You can even keep some of the liquid drained after cooking the veg and freeze that too. When time comes to make a delicious soup you won't have to go out to buy stock cubes, which incidentally contain more crap then would care to list here or anywhere else for that matter. Simply defrost a tub or two of the frozen peelings.

Defrost, not sticking into a microwave, surely, anybody can remember that they will need to eat tomorrow. Microwaves are the single best way to have your electricity bill go straight through the roof, so stick whatever needs defrosting into the fridge the night before and it'll be thawed the next day.

The mixture of veg peelings makes the greatest stock for a soup ever. You'll have everything in there you need. Just simmer for a while, drain or even pass the veg through a fine sieve and you are more or less ready to have a warming soup. For next to nothing, I may add.

Where you take your stock from here is entirely up to you but the foundation is laid and ready to be experimented with.

How cool is that?

Meat Stock from roasting, frying or just about anything you do that involves meat.

Everytime you fry a steak, roast a beef, pork or lamb joint or a chicken, don't wash the pan with washing up liquid, pour some hot water into the dish and try to get as much of what is stuck to the dish off and freeze. You'll be amazed just how much flavour is contained in something that most people basically regard as a nuissance getting rid of.

This is something else that we have done for donkeys years now and we always have several pots in the freezer where we store the different flavour stocks.

What it does require is a suitable large freezer but those tend to be available to most people, even if it is only a seperate section in the fridge.

Again, always defrost overnight in the fridge, NEVER use the microwave for this (in fact, throw the thing at your nearest charity shop).

Don't buy like you are intending to feed a hundred people. This is something that literally drives me round the bend when I see people shopping for the weekend. I don't know about the USA but in the UK your average family will tend to buy at least several joints of meat, even if there are only 3 or 4 of them eating.

It gets worse when there is a Bank Holiday on the horizon and people are about to have visitors. People will happily buy three or four joints of meat and a chicken, just to show how much food they can lay on and then throw in the bin in the evening, which tends to be the way with a lot of Brits.

This is disgusting, honestly, don't people have any concept of the fact that it takes approx. 10 times as much vegatable matter to produce one part of animal? At Christmas our cats drag half eaten turkey into our backgarden and someone mentioned to me there is a recession. Must have bypassed those idiots. Pardon my French.

There is little if any meat that cannot be frozen for another day or make roast beef or turkey sandwiches till Easter for all I care. Foods is a precious resource and should not be disposed of lightly.

We constantly have leftover meals frozen in the freezer, ready to provide that easy, 'I can't be bothered to cook' dinner.

Food Waste, no thank you.

Oh, don't think you can or should for that matter eat a pound of steak in one go. It'll only go to waste. Half the size, organic now because you are saving on quantity and make up for it with a large salad. You may find that you are actually better off this way in more then one sense.

Learn to distrust food labelling. No, for a change I am not concerned with ingredients, that's an entirely different kettle of fish alltogether but rather the abundance of labels referring to 'Best before', 'Use By' and 'Sell by' dates on supermarket foods.

Most to this is plain crap.

Sell by dates are only for instore stockkeeping purposes and nothing else. They don't mean a thing for the consumer. You will be able to tell when your bread has gone off, it'll turn green, blue and read with mould. Just because there is a sell by date on the packet, that is no reason to throw it away on that day.

Use by dates are close to as bad, but not quite. Cheese or butter from the supermarkets counters are usually labelled with a 'Use by' date. This is yet another way to make the customer dispose of perfectly good and edible foods. Take cheese for example. I love Vintage Cheddar, often matured for up to 5 years and when the supermarket sells it to us, its use by date is reduced to a maximum of 5 days? Sorry, how can a 5 year old cheese go off within 5 days? Besides, with cheese is perfectly safe to just cut off any mould, which makes it different from most other foods that when they show signs of mould infestations should be gotten rid of. Cheese is too dense to allow the spores to penetrate the product.

There are some clear indications that food is about to spoil. In plastic packs, something you should avoid anyway, the first giveaway is the pack expanding, in this case it is a good idea to simply smell the product, unless you have a totally screwed olfactory sense, mould will be recognised by most people.

The extremely short lifetime of 'Use by' labelled foods are so that the food industry is on the safe side.

Best before dates are the worst of the lot I guess. The label means exactly what it say, the product will be at its best on or before that date. It has absolutely no bearing on its useability and it should never be disposed of, something that more and more people do on a daily basis.

Take prepacked bread for example. Allthough I bake +90% of our bread myself, occassionally I do buy a loaf and I couldn't care less about the best before date. It means it will be fresher before the date given, not that it'll die an untimely death. Like with everything else, bread will eventually go mouldy, so a simple look at the loaf will tell you if it's still edible. After all, you are not going to eat the label, are you?

Make more use of your freezer. Nothing in the world is as useful as a freezer. We have two, a fridge freezer and a huge chest freezer of almost industrial proportions that'll feeze down to as low as -40 centigrade, that is cold, believe me.

Even if you live on your own a small one will be ever so useful. Freeze bread by the number of slices you are likely to use every day. Simple, easy, cost effective and literally no waste ever. All you have to invest in are a some freezer bags, which can be reused over and over again. Always remember, plastic does NOT decompose EVER. It just breaks down into ever smaller sections of those endless molecular chains and one the smallest size is reached, they will start mimicking hormones and that has an impact on each and everyone of us.

I must be off to a meeting of the local residents now, so I will get back to this thread later, as it is pretty much an ongoing effort. (Unless I decide to write a book instead and start hawking it to the members here, ).
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Old 06-19-2012, 06:31 PM   #12
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This looks to be an interesting thread, which I'll read but never contribute to since anything beyond the simplest cooking imaginable is way beyond my range of interest. I made a fellow worker very angry when I told her how I make a cake. No, I don't use mixes; but neither do I take the time to properly blend ingredients, I just pour them all in a bowl and beat. I'll tell you why I don't bother doing it right: there's a certain taste that all bakery cakes have that cannot be duplicated no matter how carefully the ingredients are blended. I won't call it a secret ingredient, merely an ingredient or blend of ingredients not available to the ordinary consumer in the Spice Aisle of grocery stores. Plus, I've tried innumerable combinations to concoct an icing I like (icing is my favorite part of a cake). I haven't found anything better than butter to use as a base; but since I'm trying very diligently to reduce my cholesterol level, I can't keep using butter - so it's back to the icing drawing board.

Found your notes on "Use By" dates useful. I'll keep almost any non-meat product until it's all used up or until it exhibits clear signs of spoilage. Meat is another matter though - especially chicken, which is about the only meat I ever use. Sometimes even the "Sell By" date is throw-away time. In fact, if it weren't for the dogs, I might stop getting meat altogether. Anyway, hope this thread catches on.
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Old 06-19-2012, 09:11 PM   #13
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Well, thanks for your input, alas I must retaliate, of course, wouldn't be me otherwise, would it? LOL

The whole idea is for food to taste like it used to when it was primarily homemade, rather then all the standardised tastes you are usually presented with today. Sadly, this does very much apply to places like McDonald's. From what I hear, wherever you go, it is supposed to be the same, a thought I find seriously distressing. I have baked our own bread for more then 20 years now and the thing we like best about it, is all the minute differences between every loaf ever baked. Even the weather has a magical influence on how it turns out but at the end of the day, it has always been delicious.

Interesting you mention the 'Sell by' date. Now, I may have to possibly rephrase what I wrote above, should it turn out to have a different meaning in the USA, from what it refers to in the UK. Didn't think of that, so much appreciated for raising this issue. I will look into this tomorrow on the FDA's pages as soon as I am back from the vets. Don't want to start spreading rumours.

I should have thought of that before really, especially since I have been exchanging recipes with JoBleau for a couple of years now and we have both come across a large number of words and phrases that turned out to have a completely different meaning. Only teaches you to not take anything for granted.

When it comes to your icing, you may find that the commercial varieties are usually made with ghee, which is clarified butter fat or it uses vegetable fats, which in 95% of all cases refers to it being made from palm oil. Now that is one to either avoid or at least only purchased if it comes from Rainforest certified plantations, which can at least lay some claim to being sustainable, allthough certification usually is only ever applied for once the rainforest has already been cleared. 0:1 to the Orangutans you might say, they and anything else living in those vital areas are usually the big losers.

Yes, if people be a little more aware of how our eating habits influcences our planet, maybe at least some would change their ways, at least a little anyway.

As for your throwing it all in a bowl and swishing it round, you might find that most often the secret isn't much of a secret really. It is in the time spent mixing the ingredients. This really applies to bread. People underestimate how long kneading a dough for 10-20 minutes really is. Most of them will only ever do it for say 3 minutes and then be surprised that the loaf is nowhere near as light and fluffy as the bread in from the store, plus it helps if you have a proper steam oven, which is what the industry uses. At the end of the day it all boils down to kneading and how much steam you manage to inject into your oven. JoBleau had a brilliant idea to achieve the latter without the horrendous expense of buying a steam oven but I won't give his secret away, that'll be up to him to share.

If you have any information on the US sell by date, please feel free to post it here or send me a pm, I am always interested in learning something new when it comes to this.
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Old 06-20-2012, 01:43 AM   #14
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Seeing as women love men who know how to cook, I wish I understood this...but it all looks like alien writings!
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Old 06-20-2012, 06:09 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Road View Post
Seeing as women love men who know how to cook, I wish I understood this...but it all looks like alien writings!
Road, that is precisely why I started this thread. PM me and I will try and translate Alien into plain old English for you. I think we could both benefit greatly from it, you could learn to read and speak Alien and I'll be able to adapt my posts for the benefit of those non-Alien speakers like yourself.

The first thing I will do, I had this planned originally, is to provide links for all the ingredients to Wikipedia, who have generally good and easy to understand information about them, so I hope that helps for a start.

And who knows, your post may yet trigger me to write an Alien/English dictionary for the site. .

This then applies to everybody. Don't understand something? Ask. The only way to learn is by asking, so don't be afraid, I ask JoBleau too when there is something that is unclear or the two of us are speaking in tongues again, which does happen with the same product being called different names in different places.
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Old 06-20-2012, 01:04 PM   #16
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I made the apple cake at work yesterday (I added a little more cinnamon and used 2 less egg yolks); it's delicious. I live alone so I froze half of it


So I've complied a few of my favorite recipes that I'll post after work this evening. I had to copy that recipe into a MS document before I went to work (obviously can't sign into MTD from work lol).

Have a good morning/afternoon men (women too?)
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Old 06-20-2012, 02:58 PM   #17
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Pleased to hear it. Can you get what in the UK is called Extra Thick Double Cream? I know that JoBleau was having bigtime difficulties and he's from Canada too. If in doubt, maybe check this Wikipedia link:
Types of cream in the UK

Even better if yo could find Clotted Cream, now that is the beez neez you might say or some call in solidified heart attack. Here is the Wiki link: Clotted Cream

This is the single most amazing stuff ever. We usually get Devonshire Clotted Cream from our local shop with a fat content of 68%, so high in fact, it does come with a golden layer of pure butter on top of it. Not for the faint hearted or those scared of suffering a heart attack but most certainly qualifying for the accolade of 'Food Porn'.
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Old 06-21-2012, 12:23 PM   #18
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@Hover: A tid bit to add to your "Some useful hints on reducing Food Waste" post, which incidentally, was excellent and to the point.

Whenever you cook sea foods with a shell like shrimps, clams, lobsters, etc. keep those shells, cooked or not and freeze them until you have enough to make a broth. Pretty much what you say about vegetable peelings. Actually, mix both shells and peelings for an even better broth. This will give you an awesome base for asian type soups or a clam chowder.

Another note, about freezing this time. Indeed, freezing is the best way to keep food for a longer time. But if you want to make the best of it, vacuum pack the food, either before or after freezing it. Vacuum packaging will easily triple the freezer storage time for most items if it's done properly. And vacuum packaging machines are not too expensive considering what you save in food and the convenience of long time storage. For example, last time I bought a whole beef tenderloin, I cut it in 200g pieces, froze them and once frozen, vacuum packed them. That was over a year ago. And last weekend, I used one to make a steak tartar. As good as fresh.

The reason to freeze first and vacuum pack after freezing is that the blood in the meat won't be extracted when you vacuum pack it. So when you'll thaw the meat it's still in the meat,making for a moister and tender piece of meat.

Same with soup or other liquids. Freeze them first in a small plastic container. I use 3 cups Ziplock ones. Once frozen, vacuum pack them for years of conservation. One time I found one of those I had forgotten. The date on the pack was 4 years earlier.

Another advantage of vacuum packing is to use the plastic rolls instead of pre-cut bags. They come in different widths and can be cut to the needed size, thus reducing their consumption. And don't listen to what the maker says about not reusing the bags. They are in business and make a lot of money selling that plastic. But the bags are perfectly reusable several times. Just wash them properly in a soapy dishwater.

A note on reusing those bags. If when you pack something you notice it is not completely vacuumed, toss the bag and use another one. If you still have air in there you have zero benefits. Also periodically check you packaged food and if you notice it lost its vacuum, repackage it in a new bag.

Also, if you freeze a lot of stuff, weight and date it and keep that information in some sort of inventory so you know what you have stocked. It makes it much easier when you plan for a meal. You don't have to empty the freezer to know if you still have some of the stuff. But don't forget to remove it from the list when you use it. Otherwise, you'll end up thinking you have something when you don't.

Vacuum packaging can also be used on refrigerated and non-refrigerated items as well. Cheese come to mind. And oxidizing metals. That beautiful silver cutlery you have to shine at every use, well, wash it, let it dry thoroughly and pack it. Next time you need it, it will be ready to use.
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Old 06-21-2012, 01:09 PM   #19
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Tandoori Butter chicken:



http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/4849...butter+chicken



My favorite pad thai recipe:




http://thaifood.about.com/od/oodleso...ith-Shrimp.htm

Last edited by PaintItPretty; 06-21-2012 at 01:21 PM.
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Old 06-21-2012, 01:24 PM   #20
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I'm going to start taking pictures of my own food and post them. Now, I just need to find the time to write all of my own recipes down to on my computer so I can post them.
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