You probably cook a lot more at home these days. All the extra cooking means that your trash can may fill up quickly with leftover food. If you would hate it when these leftovers are wasted, check out these creative ways to reuse your leftovers.
1. Reuse cucumber brine.
After you have eaten your last cucumber, you no longer have to throw the deliciously sour brine down the drain. Instead, add items like hard-boiled eggs, canned artichokes, onions, garlic, or even watermelon peels to the brine. You can tenderize meat with brine by using it as a marinade. Use it to give Bloody Marys an extra kick. Add it to the barbecue sauce for extra flavor. or you can even use it as a secret ingredient in mac and cheese.
2. Store a scrap container in the freezer.
Vegetable peels and tops are excellent ingredients for homemade broth. It may take a while for all of these bites to accumulate. Therefore, The Kitchn recommends storing a scrap bag in the freezer. You can even store parmesan shells and add them along with the vegetable scraps to broths or soups for a more robust taste.
3. Fried potato peelings for creative "chips".
The Guardian calls these roasted, reused potato peels "chips" and suggests tossing them in olive oil, sea salt, and herbs before putting them in the oven. The kitchn may be more realistic and describes these snacks as something between a potato chip and a french fry. She suggests roasting them for 1
4. Use bacon fat to make bacon-scented candles.
You already know that you can save bacon fat and use it to cook to make pretty much everything even more tasty. But did you know that you can fill your home with the delicious meat aroma with homemade candles with a bacon scent? All you need is half a liter of bacon fat, a pound of beeswax, a square of red wax paint and three wick bottoms. Then follow these simple instructions from MyRecipes.com to, as they say, "make your whole life smell like bacon".
5. Make used vanilla pods aromatic vanilla sugar.
Susan Westmoreland, culinary director in the kitchen appliance and technology laboratory at the Good Housekeeping Institute, suggests reusing vanilla beans. “Since a vanilla bean has a lot of taste, it can usually be reused several times before its aroma and taste have been used up,” she explains. She suggests turning the beans into vanilla sugar. After washing and drying the bean, cut it lengthways, spread it out and bury it in a glass of sugar with about 2 cups of sugar per bean. Vanilla beans are so strong, Westmoreland writes, that you can add fresh sugar every six months and still get a strong vanilla flavor. You can use the sugar to flavor coffee or tea, as well as baked goods.
6. Use leftover coffee grounds as skin care.
You shouldn't use coarse coffee grounds on your sensitive facial skin, but it can result in a great body scrub. Caffeine tightens and wakes the skin, and Elle suggests mixing 1 cup of coffee grounds with 6 tablespoons of coconut oil and 3 tablespoons of sea salt or sugar for an invigorating DIY beauty treatment.
7. Use tea bags in the bathroom or as a compress for cool eyes.
Well + Good recommends recycling some tea bags for a soothing, fragrant bath (they recommend using chamomile or ginger). You can also use cool tea bags, especially chamomile or green tea, over closed eyelids to reduce puffiness and dark circles.
8. Use eggshells in your coffee to make it less bitter.
Good Housekeeping recommends adding an eggshell to your coffee grounds when it is in the filter to make your morning cup of Joe less bitter. The calcium carbonate in the cups, which is an alkaline material, helps neutralize the acidity in the coffee. Egg shells are also great for the garden – as part of a compost heap, they decompose quickly and add calcium to the soil. They also repel herbivorous pests and can even keep deer away from flower beds.
9. Reuse corn cobs to smoke corn broth, corn jelly, or even meat.
After you've stripped off your corn on the cob for a delicious summer meal, you can make a sweet, gold-colored broth from the corn on the cob. You can also boil the flasks, strain the liquid and add pectin as jelly, or use them over charcoal instead of wood shavings to add extra flavor to the meat.
10. Use leftover pasta water to create a unique whiskey cocktail.
Most gourmets seem to agree that pasta water is liquid gold. Rachael Ray recommends mixing some of it as a starchy, salty thickener in pasta sauce and freezing the remains in ice cube trays for later use in sauces and soups. One of the most creative uses for pasta water is Kim Stodel, Providence's Los Angeles beverage director. Stodel told NBC News in 2017 about a cocktail called "Carbonara Footprint" that uses egg whites, 0.75 ounces of pasta water, Angostura bitters, fresh lemon juice and bourbon. Sounds like a great reward for reusing all of this leftovers!