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Recipe: A Guide to Everything Edible

A Mulberry Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Composting is a great way to turn food scraps into rich, usable soil.  It reduces waste and has a ton of environmental benefits.  That being said, I don’t compost.  I know, I know – I should.  And Oren, the resident master composter in my office has gotten a bit uppity with me when I forget.  It’s an honest mistake.

Anyway, though I don’t compost, I definitely try to reduce my food waste as much as possible by eating as much of my fruits and vegetables as I can.  Plus, it helps save money, increases the food yield from my efforts, and often tastes delicious. 

Here are some suggestions to get the most from your foods:

  1. Pomegranate – juice the pomegranate (i.e. blend then strain), but then use the pulp and seed bits to make tea!
  2. Carrot, Fennel, Celery, Parsnip Leaves – all these items are from the same family (botanically speaking).  They can be bitter if you use too much, but contrary to popular belief, they are not poisonous.
  3. Pumpkin, Acorn, Butternut, Kabocha, Delicata Squashes – by now, if you’ve read my recipes, you know that you can cook and eat it without removing the skin.  You probably also know you can roast the seeds.  Personally, I think kabocha seeds are better than pumpkin.
  4. Raspberry, Papaya, Dandelion Leaves – Make some tea! I realize that you don’t necessarily purchase leaves when you get raspberries, but should you go to a Pick-Your-Own farm, it could be worth it!
  5. Banana Peel Vinegar –You’ve heard of apple cider vinegar (ACV), right?! Well, try some banana peel vinegar.  Don’t get grossed out yet.  All vinegar is so acidic that you’re really not going to taste the food that it’s made from.  I.e. ACV doesn’t taste like apples and red wine vinegar (RWV) doesn’t taste like red wine.  But, they have distinct qualities (ACV tastes sweet but RWV doesn’t).  So banana vinegar will be very similar to ACV –a little sweet and a little bitter. 
  6. Lemon, Lime, Orange (or other Citrus) Peel – You don’t even have to peel it nicely to use the remains.  Obviously, zest can be used in a variety of dishes (desserts, salad dressings, etc.) but if you want some new ideas, try making Candied Citrus Peel.  It’s a sweet treat that can be an inexpensive and thoughtful gift.  Collect the peel from a few fruits over the course of a week and keep ‘em in your fridge!
  7. Corn Cobs – use them to make veggie stock (for soups, sauces, etc).  After cutting the corn off the cob, store them in the freezer until you have enough.  Add carrots and onions (and maybe some herbs) to make a complex and delicious stock.
  8.  Watermelon Seeds and Rind –  Roast the seeds (like squash seeds) and pickle the rind!
  9. Broccoli or Cauliflower Stems – make broccoli chips (check back next week for my favorite broccoli chip recipe)
  10. Mulberry Leaves – This one is my favorite because many people in NYC don’t realize it but there are mulberry trees everywhere! Begin your urban foraging adventure when it warms up a little and be sure to pick the berries and their leaves.  Stuff and bake the leaves with any meat or veggie filling.
  • How do you know it’s a mulberry tree?  Well, aside from bearing mulberries, a good indicator is usually a very dark, stained sidewalk where ripened fruits have fallen.

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