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.
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.
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!
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Seeds – Cantaloupe seeds added to honey and banana make a great exfoliant as well as a treatment for acne.
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.”
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)
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.
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!
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Leaves – Even the ugly Kohlrabi has leaves that are safe to eat. (See NOTE #1)
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.
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.
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)
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!
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.
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)
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.
Leaves – Most squash-type leaves are safe to eat. (See NOTE #1)
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)
Leaves – Leafy greens from sweet potatoes are a tasty addition to any meal…cooked or raw. (See NOTE #1)
Leaves – And…yes…you can also chow down on some turnip greens. (See NOTE #1)
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.
Leaves – These squash leaves are not poisonous. (See NOTE #1) Eat them raw, stir-fried, or sautéed.
Leaves – Zucchini, just like pumpkin and yellow squash are suitable for eating…both raw and cooked. (See NOTE #1)
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!”
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.