Cooking Outside The Box

You might be surprised to learn that citrus peels, cheese rinds and corn husks are all food parts that are very useful in home cooking.

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In this eco-conscious era, it’s important to reduce food waste as much as possible. You might be surprised to learn about you can cook with parts of many foods that you probably tend to throw away. Allow us to introduce you to these secret gems.

USE THAT PEEL

A common mistake when cooking with citrus is that many fail to use the whole fruit. The flesh and juice are wonderful, but so is the zest. Not only does zest make a colourful garnish, but it also adds bursts of pleasant flavour throughout a dish. Lemon and orange zest make a great addition to loaves and muffins. Add lime zest to salsa, tacos and Thai curries. Citrus peels are also very useful when crafting cocktails. There’s the classic martini with a twist and, when making a Negroni, rubbing an orange peel along the rim of the glass will impart the wonderful oils released from the fruit. Bonus: there’s lots of fiber and Vitamin C in the peel. 

A common mistake when cooking with citrus is that many fail to use the whole fruit.

USE THAT SKIN

Have you ever thought about making chicken skin butter? Well, now you have. After baking pieces of chicken skin flat on a baking sheet, blend with butter and fat drippings in a food processor, chill slightly and you've got yourself a decadent compound butter. While it may sound odd, baked chicken or turkey skin also makes a unique addition to a classic holiday dinner, adding crunch and flavour. Just be careful not to eat it on its own or you’ll be sure to regret the salt bomb that follows – treat it more as a vessel for mashed potatoes. 

Parmesan cheese rinds are one of the best kept secrets in a nonna's kitchen.

USE THAT RIND

Parmesan cheese rinds are one of the best kept secrets in a nonna's kitchen. We are referring, of course, to the protective crust that forms around a wheel of Parmesan and they are packed with flavour that shouldn't be wasted. Instead, use them to enrich stocks, stews and sauces. A personal favourite trick of ours is adding a few rinds to risotto. Apart from being flavour bombs, these rinds are very affordable and will keep in the fridge for months. 

Did you know that corn husks make the perfect wrapper for tamales?

USE THAT HUSK

Did you know that corn husks make the perfect wrapper for tamales, similar to a banana leaf? Nestle your masa (a corn-based filling) spices and meat inside the husk and then use strings of the husk to tie the tamale into individual parcels before steaming. Make sure to soak the husks in warm water for about 20 minutes before using them in order to soften them. Corn husks can also be used similar to how one uses parchment paper; for example, to steam fish. Just wrap the fish in several husks and place it on the grill or in the oven.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

If you're looking for a delicious and creative barbecue side this summer, try pickling watermelon rinds. They're really healthy for you and will add a burst of brightness to whatever it is you're grilling up. 

Broccoli stalks are one of the most frequently tossed parts of any vegetable but it turns out that the stalks add wonderful texture to many dishes like curries and stir frys. They're also packed with nutrients! Give them a try next time you've got a few kicking around. If you're not a fan, consider composting them! Lastly, before you toss those carrot and beet greens, consider blending them into a smoothie or mix into hummus.