How to make the most of your rinds, peels, skins and other food ‘waste’

Colonie's salad uses ingredients you may have thrown away via Melissa Kravitz

Colonie’s salad uses ingredients you may have thrown away via Melissa Kravitz

If you’ve been busy pickling, you probably haven’t had time to cook much else. But if that’s not the case, there’s a good chance you’ve been tossing (composting maybe?) your apple cores and corn cobs without a second thought as to how you can save a few bucks on meals with this supposed trash. Well, Chef Andrew Whitcomb of Colonie is back and here to help us eat our (potential) food waste. “There are lots of ways to be thrifty when you have to be,” Whitcomb said. And who doesn’t have to be, even with Brooklyn’s alleged rent decrease.

Instead of throwing away the green tops of vegetables, use greens like carrot tops to make a soup or in salads. “Use them as you would use herbs,” said Whitcomb. You can also make carrot green salt, by grinding the greens together in the food processor with equal parts salt.

Beet greens are also a great source of flavor; Whitcomb remembers his family growing beets specifically to use the greens. Don’t threw them out, cook like you would cook greens like swiss chard, sautéed is a good start.

When using herbs like basil or parsley, it’s tempting to throw out the stem, but don’t! You can slice them to use as flavor on items like roasted potatoes or put them in oil, vinegar, or booze to infuse them with the flavor of the herb. You can also just chop them into a salad or any other dish for a burst of flavor and snappy texture.

Squeezed a few lemons into your lemonade and want to toss the peels? Keep them! Citrus peels (and the whole fruits) can be preserved easily. Cut slits in the rinds and pack them in a jar of half salt and half sugar for eight months. You can use preserved lemon in salads, dressing, roasting chickens and in Middle Eastern dishes like couscous and curries.

Eat your entire watermelon? Pickle the rind! Cook it slowly (not to a boil) in equal parts sugar, water and rice vinegar. The rind is done when it’s translucent. You can also add salt or other flavorings to make it spicy or sweet. Peel off the green skin and pack it in a jar. You can eat the pickled rind alone or use it in cocktails or in a salad.

If you’re peeling off the skins of any food, keep them and dehydrate to grind into powder. “Cucumber skins are really good for you!” said Whitcomb. The powders can be used as seasonings on pretty much anything and taste like concentrated versions of the vegetables themselves.

If you buy whole corn, keep the husks, soak them and use them to wrap around fish for grilling, tamale style. Here’s a salmon recipe and a snapper recipe, if you need a bit more guidance.

Follow Melissa for more foodstuffs at @melissabethk