Don’t throw it away!

There are lots of things that end up in the kitchen bin which have still got loads more use left in them. We’ve rounded up our favourite ingredients that can get a second wind, if you just know what to do with them.

Parmesan rind: soup booster

Once you finished your block of Parmesan, or any hard cheese, remove the waxy coating and freeze the rind. Next time you’re making a soup pop the rind in with the simmering ingredients and it’ll bring depth and richness to your recipe.

Chicken carcass: stock staple

After the family’s eaten their roast chicken, strip the carcass right down, getting rid of all skin and meat. Pop the carcass of the chicken (broken up to fit) in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Thrown in an uncooked carrot, stick of celery, onion, a few bay leaves and seasoning. Bring to the boil and simmer – very gently – for about 4 hours. You’ll need to occasionally skim off any foam that comes to the surface. Drain the stock through a sieve and freeze. You can use the stock to make gravy for your next roast, or to add flavour to the next batch of soup you make.

Crusts: breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are best made from semi-stale bread. Cut your crusts up into small piece and put them in the food processor, getting the crumbs as small as possible. Sprinkle the crumbs onto a baking tray and pop them in a moderate oven (150C/300F/Gas Mark 3) for about 20 mins. Give them a shake about half way through. When they turn golden, take them out and cool them, then you can bag them up and store them in the freezer for up to three months.

Vegetables: simple soups

A slightly soft carrot, a couple of potatoes sprouting eyes, a handful of wilting green beans… Whatever you find in the bottom of your veggie wrack, you’ll be able to make a delicious soup from it. Fry off an onion and a clove of garlic, then throw in your chopped up veg. Add in a fe teaspoons of whatever herbs you fancy – rosemary or thyme tend to go well with most things. Give it few minutes to coat in the oil, then cover with stock. Simmer until the veg is thoroughly cooked through, blend, cool and freeze. If you’re nervous about the mix of veg you’ve got, adding curry powder or chopped red chilli to the frying onion will help bring the flavours together.

Soft fruit: sensational smoothies

The basic recipe for a smoothie includes adding milk and yoghurt to any fruits of your choice and blending until drinkable. You can add honey if it needs sweetening. You can make a delicious smoothie with practically any fruit. Overripe bananas are particularly good to throw in as they thicken it up. If you don’t have any bananas to hand, adding a handful of porridge is another way to bulk it out. Oats will also keep you fuller for longer, which means you could have the smoothie for breakfast and not need to eat again until lunch.

Orange and lemon peelings: intense flavouring

If you’re cooking something which requires orange or lemon juice, make most of the intensely flavoured rind by grating the zest off the fruit before you squeeze them. You can do this by using a zester, or the finest side of your cheese grater. Bag up the zest and freeze it. You can add orange or lemon zest to loads of sweet and savoury recipes (casseroles and cakes especially) to give them an extra level of flavour.

Crystalised honey: not dead yet!

When honey starts to crystalise, it doesn’t mean it’s gone off. All honey crystalises and it’s largely to do with temperature. Bring your honey back to life by warming it up, either in the microwave or by putting the jar in warm water. It’s best not to have the microwave set high, or to re-heat the honey too many times, as it will start to lose its consistency and smell. If you can, just gently warm a small amount up as and when you need it.

Freezer picnics

Whenever you’re cooking and you’ve made a little bit too much mash potato or have got a small amount of chicken curry left, don’t throw it away. Even if it’s not enough to make a full portion. Put it in the freezer, then, every month or so, treat the family to a freezer picnic! Defrost and reheat all the bits and bobs you’ve stashed away and put it all out on the table as a sharing meal for the family. The kids will love it, and it’ll feel like a free meal.

Where to next?

Roast dinner for under £7

What’s in season when and how to use it

Homemade pizza ideas