Vegetables and Fruits – Save Those Throw Away Parts!

Do You Throw Away Parts Of Vegetables And Fruits?

Prepare To Be Amazed!

After realizing all the uses for discarded parts of various veggies and fruits, you will most assuredly want to reboot your throw-away habits and start making use of unwanted organic material.

From time to time I may be adding more produce to this discussion so you will continually be updated and made aware of the enormously rewarding possibilities of recycling peels, leaves, cores, seeds, and stems.

 

NOTE #1

For plants with edible leaves, it is best to pick young, small leaves growing on the tips of stems as additions to food preparations.  As plant leaves get older, they become more fibrous and bitter.  Unless otherwise noted, cook or sauté the leaves for maximum flavor.

 

NOTE #2

The leaves and flowers of some plants are toxic.  Plants such as potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants are part of the nightshade family and they contain, in varying strengths, solanine.  Solanine can be poisonous to humans but, normally, only in very large quantities.

Some folks may experience allergic or unpredictable reactions to any plant leaves so, use caution and try only a very small amount…a leaf or two…until you have confidence that there are no ill effects.  Side effects can include headache, nausea, diarrhea, and stomach pain.  Spoiled potatoes, green spots on potatoes, and potato sprouts contain the highest concentration of solanine.

For a cat, eating any of the plants of the nightshade family could be fatal.  Human food is toxic to our furry friends.  What we humans eat will bring about the onset of many illnesses for our animals…a really good reason not to feed them table scraps!

 

NOTE #3

To create perfect zest from lemons, limes, and oranges, the best tool is the 4-sided Cuisinart CTG-00-BG Boxed Grater.  This grater is manufactured out of stainless steel and is ideal for fine shredding, coarse shredding, fine grating and slicing. It has a soft-grip handle and a nonslip base…and, of course, it is dishwasher safe.

Click on an item below for detailed information or browse the listings for wide-ranging overviews.

 

Apples Cucumbers Peas
Asparagus Eggplant Pineapples
Avocados Garlic Potatoes
Bananas Green Beans Pumpkin
Beets Green Pepper Radishes
Broccoli Kohlrabi Sweet Potato
Cantaloupe Lemons Tomatoes
Carrots Okra Turnips
Cauliflower Onions Watermelon
Coconut Oranges Yellow Squash
Corn Peaches Zucchini


Apples

Apple peel

Peels – Apple peelings contain more nutrients than the fruit, itself! Roasted peels, spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, or nothing, makes a great snack when the hunger pangs hit.  You can also use the peelings for tea, smoothies, apple juice or jelly.  Chop them up and stick them in pancakes.  Boil them in water as an aid to remove aluminum pan stains.

Apple core

Core – Cores can be utilized along with peelings for apple juice and jelly…or cleaning aluminum pans.

WARNING:  Apple seeds contain a form of hydrogen cyanide poison.  When the seeds are crushed and digested, the poison is released.  Swallowing a couple of seeds whole without chewing or crushing them is safe.  This poison is also present in many other fruit seeds.


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Asparagus

Asparagus peelings

Stem – Boil uneaten parts of asparagus such as the hard stalks that you would typically trash until soft and use them to make asparagus soup.


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Avocados

Avocados with skin on.

Peels – The greener the flesh…the higher the concentration of nutrients…including antioxidants. So, scrape off and eat the green flesh as much as possible.  Then, use what flesh is still left on the skin for a healthy face or body rub.

Avocados core

Core – Dry these big seeds in an oven or dehydrator, grind them into a powder, and sprinkle on a salad or in a smoothie. The powder will also enhance shampoo resulting in cleaner hair.

Trivia:  Folks south of the border use avocado seed powder to treat diarrhea, among other things…even snakebites.  The powder has also shown that it can help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels…and, it has been successful in treating fungal infections.


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Bananas

Banana peel

Peels – Most certainly, you can eat banana skins. Since heat will break down the tough skin fiber, fry ‘em, bake ‘em, or boil ‘em for a quarter of an hour…then, stick them in a smoothie.  Other uses could be: shine shoes, whiten teeth, polish silverware, antidepressant remedy, meat tenderizer…and a multitude of other things.


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Beets

Beets with leaves.

Leaves – Beet leaves are definitely edible. (See NOTE #1.) Include some raw leaves, along with lettuce, in a salad.  Boil, steam, sauté or stir fry them as a side dish or to be included in other dishes.


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Broccoli

Broccoli plant

Leaves – Broccoli Leaves? Uh-huh!  Eat them in salads and sautés.  Roast them with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper to make healthy broccoli chips.

Stem – Make broccoli soup with the chopped up stalks.

 


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Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe seeds

Seeds – Cantaloupe seeds added to honey and banana make a great exfoliant as well as a treatment for acne.

 


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Carrots

Carrot tops

Peels – Nobody wants to eat “carrot scrapings”, right? Wrong!  As long as the scrapings are clean, you can chop them up into any dish.  And, really, you don’t even have to peel them.  Just leave them alone and cook them the way your garden gave them to you.  Just make sure to wash them first.  You don’t want to eat any dirt and gunk that may be attached to them.

Leaves – As I said in my “How to Grow Carrots” page: “Don’t throw away carrot tops.  Those carrot leaves are edible.  Stir fry them or use them in salads.  Young leaves harvested before root development have a milder taste.  After the roots mature, the alkaloid levels are higher…increasing the bitterness.”

 


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Cauliflower

Cauliflower with leaves attached.

Leaves – Ever notice that when you buy cauliflower at the grocery store that there are leaves still attached? Well, you may not have guessed it…but, those leaves are edible and can be cooked along with the cauliflower.  (See NOTE #1)

 


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Coconut

Coconut husk

Peels – Because of its strong fibers, the husk of the coconut is used to make a plethora of products; brushes, doormats, rugs, ropes, and even coconut boards. There is natural glue, lignin, between the fibers so, when the husk is heated up a couple hundred degrees, it can be pressed into many shapes.  I have even seen chairs made completely from coconut husks!  In addition, the shell is excellent raw material for manufacturing activated charcoal for use in filters.

Coconut sliced in half. Ready to be hollowed out.

SIDE NOTE:  Cut a coconut in half, hollow it out, and it can become a sound effect for galloping horses…or, a bra worn by traditional Hawaiian dancers.  I have always thought that it must be a bit painful for them to wear coconut shell bras for any length of time…especially for those ladies exceptionally well endowed.  OUCH!

Tall coconut tree with many heavy coconuts.

ANOTHER SIDE NOTE:  A coconut tree can grow to almost a 100 foot tall and contain 30 plus coconuts…most of which are over 3 pounds. 

WARNING!  When you’re in the tropics, do NOT walk underneath these trees.  Getting bopped by one of these earthbound woody balls can put quite a crease in your skull!  Believe me when I say, “I speak from experience!”

 


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Corn

Corn plant with silk.

Peels – Silk are not peels…but, those hair-thin strands are jam-packed with nutrient goodies. Chop up the white silk and brew it in a coup of tea and add a light corn flavor.  Corn silk is used for treatment of inflammations and infections.

Leaves – Corn husks are great wrappers for other food items that you plan on cooking in an oven or in a BBQ pit.

 


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Cucumbers

Cucumber plant

Peels – For those of you who peel cucumbers (I usually don’t unless the skin is a bit tough.), those skins can remove many marks your kids make on your walls or countertops. They can also defog your bathroom mirror and silence creaking door hinges if you don’t have any 3-in-1 oil around.

 


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Eggplant

Eggplant

Leaves – Edible in moderation – See NOTE #1 and NOTE #2.

 


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Garlic

Hardneck garlic scapes

Leaves – In “How To Grow Garlic”, I talk about how to pinch off the scape on hardneck garlic. The scape is the more rigid stem that comes up inside a long, flowering outer stem with a more rigid stem (scape) that comes up inside the outer stem.  These scapes are delicious raw in salads, sauces, etc., or as cooking ingredients.  They will add a mild, but refreshing garlic flavor.

 


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Green Beans

Green bean plants on a trellis.

Leaves – For sure…green bean leaves are totally edible. (See NOTE #1)  Cooked and added to other dishes is the preferred way to eat them.

 


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Green (Bell) Peppers

Green (Bell) pepper plants

Leaves – Green pepper leaves are edible…in moderation. (See NOTE #1 and NOTE #2)

 


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Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi plant

Leaves – Even the ugly Kohlrabi has leaves that are safe to eat. (See NOTE #1)

 


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Lemons

Lemon peel

Peels – A lemon peel is a great additive to keep your brown sugar from getting rock hard. Make some lemon zest and add it to any number of dishes for a distinctive lemony flavor…or, make a lemon-vinegar cleaning solution. (See NOTE #3 for an excellent zesting/grating tool by Cuisinart.)  Placing a few lemon peels or sprinkling some zest in areas where you have spotted ants will destroy the ant trails…and any lemony juices that the ants carry back to their nest on their antennae will pollute the entire colony.

 


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Okra

Okra plant

Leaves – Leaves are fit to be eaten and can be used in a salad. (See NOTE #1)

Seeds – Okra seeds can be roasted and ground to create a caffeine-free coffee substitute.

 


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Onions

Onion skin

Peels – Here is a quote from my page, “How to Grow Onions”… “Did you know that the healthiest part of the onion is in the skin that we throw away?  That skin contains high concentrations of nutrients!  Use the onion skin in soup and stew stocks and, after boiling them a bit in water to release their nutrients, then you can remove and discard them if you like.  Onion juice also reduces inflammation and heals infections.  Rub some on your body for instant relief from the pain and burning associated with bee stings.”

Leaves – When the baby stalks are cut back during the onion growing process, use them for a mild oniony flavor and add them to any dish. (See NOTE #1)

 


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Oranges

Orange peels

Peels – Zest your orange peels for a superb addition to any food preparation that could benefit from a sweet and tangy taste. Puree the peels and go to war with ants.  The orange juice will keep the ants away from your house entrances and pouring it down an ant hill will kill the colony!

 


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Peaches

Peaches and peach pit.

Peels – Throw peach skins and pits into a pot slightly covered with water, boil for a half hour, and let it cool overnight. Come morning, strain the juice through cheesecloth and the liquid makes great jams and jellies.

 


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Peas

Pea plant

Peels – Pea pods are suitable for eating. Sauté them with a little onion and garlic for a tasty side dish.

Leaves – Even the leaves are edible. (See NOTE #1)

 


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Pineapples

Pineapple skin

Peels – The skin or husk of the pineapple can be boiled and used in tea with a little honey. The pulp also makes an excellent and flavorful meat tenderizer.  And, if you are a do-it-yourself winemaker, a cold glass of homemade pineapple wine is a great summertime thirst quencher!

Core – Even though the core is pretty solid, with a powerful blender like the Ninja MEGA Kitchen System (BL770), it can be ground to a pulp and used in cooked dishes for an added pineapple flavor.

 


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Potatoes

Potato skins

Leaves – I love potatoes…but, I didn’t believe my grandfather when he told me how good sautéed potato leaves were. But, believe me…they are worth a try…in moderation. (See NOTE #1 and NOTE #2)

 


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Pumpkin

Pumpkin plant

Leaves – Most squash-type leaves are safe to eat. (See NOTE #1)

 


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Radishes

Radishes with leaves.

Leaves – Radish leaves are very tasty…either raw, in salads, or cooked. Repeating what I said in “How To Grow Radishes”, “Don’t throw away the leaves.  They can be used raw in salads, too…or as a stir fry ingredient.  Many folks like radishes steamed…or sautéed as a side dish.  They even find their way into stews, soups, or blended fruit juices.  Have you ever tried a pickled radish?  Excellent!” (See NOTE #1)

 


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Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potato plants

Leaves – Leafy greens from sweet potatoes are a tasty addition to any meal…cooked or raw. (See NOTE #1)

 


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Tomatoes

Tomato plant

Leaves – Tomato leaves can be eaten…but, only in moderation. (See NOTE #1 and NOTE #2)

 


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Turnips

Turnips with leaves.

Leaves – And…yes…you can also chow down on some turnip greens. (See NOTE #1)

 


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Watermelon

Watermelon plant

Peels – Pickle those watermelon rinds for a snack that can be ready in a couple of hours. Grate the rind and, instead of cabbage coleslaw, make watermelon rind coleslaw!

Seeds – Watermelon seeds can be eaten just like sunflower seeds. But, first, roast ‘em in the oven, shell ‘em, and add a little salt.

 


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Yellow Squash

Yellow Squash plant

Leaves – These squash leaves are not poisonous. (See NOTE #1) Eat them raw, stir-fried, or sautéed.

 


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Zucchini

Zucchini plant

Leaves – Zucchini, just like pumpkin and yellow squash are suitable for eating…both raw and cooked. (See NOTE #1)

 

 

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Even though many of the details presented on this page came from my years growing up gardening and spending time on my relatives’ farms, I have to give my neighbor, Jed, the retired farmer, credit for a substantial chunk of these facts.

While he was recounting his many ideas and experiences on using peels, leaves, seeds, and such from the garden, he took a few minutes to tell me about the time he filed a lawsuit against the railroad back in his farming days.

 

Jed’s Lost Prize Bull

It seems that one day, when the train passed through his farm land, Jed’s prize bull went missing.  So, he sued the railroad for fair compensation…feeling that they were responsible.

When the court date arrived, the big city attorney sent by the railroad, took Jed to the side…trying to get him to settle out of court.

Using all his best lawyer talk, he finally convinced Jed to take only half of the money he was asking for.

Jed signed a release and the young lawyer gave him a check.

When their business was finished, the lawyer just had to gloat saying, “You know, old man, I know I couldn’t have won this case.  The engineer was sleeping and the conductor was otherwise occupied when the train passed through your farm that morning.  I bluffed you real good!”

To that, Jed replied, “Well…I just have to tell you, young feller…I was actually some worried about winning this case myself!  You see…that blasted bull came home this morning!”

Jed's prize bull

 

Don’t you think that this knowledge about saving peels, leaves, cores, and stems is priceless?

Remember, it goes without saying…that, if used for nothing else, organic material can always…always…be added to your garden or compost pile.  So, don’t ever throw away any of your vegetable and fruit parts!

Let me know what you think about Jed and about how you utilize more of the throw away parts of your fruits and vegetables in the comments below or email me: jim@perfect-vegetable-garden.com.

 

Jim

12 thoughts on “Vegetables and Fruits – Save Those Throw Away Parts!

  1. Paul Reply

    What a wealth of information you have created here, Jim.

    I am a novice gardener and I enjoy watching and learning this fascinating cycle of Nature.
    It is rare that I find so many tips and tricks about plants, herbs, and vegetables in such a small space.
    I especially like the fried banana peels, the pickled watermelon rinds, and the use of orange juice for ant warfare.
    I have bookmarked your site and will be returning for more. Thanks.
    Paul

    • Jim Reply

      Thanks, for visiting my website, Paul!  I am glad that you found it enjoyable and informative!

      I like fried banana peels and pickled watermelon rinds, too.  For folks that haven’t tried them, they are missing out on some truly culinary delights.

      And anytime I can find a way to keep the ants at bay, I will use it…including the use of lemons and oranges.  The citrus smell also adds a freshness and clean feeling to the air…not like the chemical “killer sprays” that are normally used in the battle against pests.

      I look forward to your future visits and comments at The Perfect Vegetable Garden!

      Jim

  2. Tanya Reply

    This is a rich and colorful post, not to mention helpful. I will definitely start saving those asparagus ends and make soup from now on.

    • Jim Post authorReply

      At first, I balked when my wife put asparagus soup in front of me but, I found it is quite good!

      Have you ever tried broccoli and peanut butter soup? It doesn’t sound good but, the peanut butter adds a delicious depth of flavor!

      Jim

  3. Eugenio Oseguera-Figueroa Reply

    Hey Jim:

    Your website is very attractive: full of important and clear information to gardeners, great images and a straight down short description of little known alternative uses of many plants or plant parts such as stems, peels and so on.

    With my best regards from México my friend.

    Eugenio.

    • Jim Post authorReply

      I’m glad you are enjoying my website, Eugenio! There are so many parts of vegetables and fruits that we normally throw away that are totally usable in many ways! My guess is that we could cut trash in half if we only recycled a small percentage of our throw-aways!

      Jim

  4. Tom Priesmeyer Reply

    Wow. Very thorough, and detailed information on vegetables and fruits, what to keep, and what to throw out. Important stuff, especially that some of it is poisonous. I will bookmark this post for my gardening endeavors in the future. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jim Post authorReply

      Hi Tom,

      I’m glad you found some beneficial data on vegetables and fruits! It really is important knowledge to have. And, it will save you money when you are able to use more parts of them.

      You may also be interested in my recycling post. Have a look. You won’t believe what you can do with some of these items!

      Jim

  5. Allen Blankenship Reply

    With food cost rising every year the info on this site is valuable stuff to learn. I am definitely saving this site to my bookmarks for more reading.

    • Jim Post authorReply

      Hi Allen,

      I try to provide the data to make anyone successful at growing their own food. I am happy that you have found my gardening website interesting and informative!

      I will be continually adding new stuff so…

      Y’all come back now, hear?

      Jim

  6. Thomas Greenbank Reply

    Hi Jim.

    There’s certainly a lot of good info here.

    A few years ago I was the patient of a doctor who hailed from Zambia.
    We were talking about my veggie garden one day and he asked if I grew pumpkins. Of course I said yes.
    He told me that we throw the best bit away! His people prize pumpkin leaves and stalks more than the fruit!
    Next time I visited him I took him a plastic bag full – and he was delighted.

    It’s really surprising just how much good stuff we throw away because we’re not used to eating it.

    I’m not sure about tomato or potato greenery though.

    Keep up the good work.

    Thomas.

    • Jim Post authorReply

      Hi Thomas,

      It is truly amazing how many vegetables and fruits have leaves, peelings, cores, etc., that not only can be eaten but are considered a delicacy in many parts of the world.

      As far as tomatoes and potatoes, even though they are part of the nightshade family (i.e. containing solanine), their leaves should ONLY be consumed in moderation. In other words, treat them as you would a side dish appetizer. Try a few leaves at first – then add a few – but, don’t go overboard. Again – the word is moderation – you don’t want to experience nausea, diarrhea, or stomach cramps – which are the first signs of too much solanine.

      Jim

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