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Useful Scraps

Q. I like to waste as little as possible in the kitchen. Do you have ideas on what can be done with scraps like carrot and beet tops, potato peelings, ham bones, etc.? Same goes for fruits and veggies past their prime? — Aaron, Menasha

A. Reducing waste in the kitchen starts with proper meal and menu planning, as I have quickly realized as a new empty-nester! I rarely peel potatoes anymore as the cleaned skins are edible and minimally trim any vegetables. I strongly suggest making broths. Any time I make a whole chicken, turkey or ham, I prepare a broth from all the drippings, bones, fat, skin and any available veggie trimmings. I place these products in a kettle, cover them with water and simmer them for several hours. Then I strain them into a container and cool them overnight, which brings all of the fat to the surface. The fat is then removed (which can also be used) and the highly gelatinous broth is then bagged, labeled and frozen in zip bags. This makes a fantastic starting point for soups and sauces. Once products have reached their primes, some fruits and veggies can be blanched and frozen for future use. Many cooks keep empty ice cube trays available to freeze different stocks and purées that can then be easily accessed and utilized when needed.

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