If there were one buzzword for restaurants over the past decade, it would be “sustainability.” Public figures like Arthur Potts Dawson, advocate chef for the World Food Programme and executive chef at OmVed Gardens, as well as Sam Kass, former White House chef, are two of many who have brought sustainability to the forefront in the culinary industry. If you’re interested in reducing food waste in your own kitchen, it doesn’t stop with cooking; beverages are a great way to put those stems and peels to use.
If you’ve ever wondered how to use the rest of an orange after removing the peel for Negroni or you don’t know what to do with mint stems after stripping them of their leaves for a mojito, read on. These tips and tricks will help make your Friday-night happy hours low-waste while keeping the party going.
Dehydrate fruits and vegetables
If you have fruit that’s about to go bad, don’t throw it away! Dehydrate it and use it as an edible garnish on your cocktails. You can dehydrate anything from strawberries and apples to peaches and blueberries. If you don’t have a dehydrator or an air fryer, you can dehydrate the fruit in an oven by spreading it evenly on a pan and baking it at 200F, stirring every 30 minutes or so until the fruit has a chewy texture. The process will take a few hours, but when you’re done, you will have a healthy snack and fruit that can be used as a garnish or add it to an infusion with vodka, rum, tequila and more.
Turn citrus peels into syrup
In addition to using citrus peels as garnishes for cocktails, like a lemon drop martini or an Old Fashioned, you can also repurpose them by making oleo saccharum (a fancy way to say sugar-oil). Just add the peels to a bowl with some sugar and muddle the mixture. Then let it sit for a few hours. Eventually the oils will be extracted from the peels and you’ll be left with a syrup that you can use to sweeten your cocktails. Alternately, you can make a flavored simple syrup by combining equal parts sugar and water in a pot along with herb stems or citrus or ginger peel. Simmer and stir until the sugar is dissolved, then remove from the heat and allow to cool and steep. Then you can strain the syrup and use in cocktails or mocktails to your heart’s content.
Make an infusion
The possibilities are pretty much endless when it comes to making infusions out of alcohol. An infusion is a great opportunity to use any leftover citrus peels, herbs and spices you have around the house. If you want to make an infusion out of fruit, it’s best to stick with dried fruit because it has a lower water content than fresh fruit. To make an infusion, add your ingredients to an airtight container with the alcohol of your choosing, shake it up and let it sit. Sample the infusion after about 24 hours and once it tastes good to you, strain it and enjoy.
These tips and tricks are just a few ways that you can be more sustainable at home. For more ways to repurpose your kitchen scraps (plus recipes), click here.
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