Food preservation for Zero Waste

Food preservation for Zero Waste

Imagine this: you purchased far too many peppers or you grew your own spinach, and it grew FAR better than you anticipated and you’re inundated, time on the food rot clock is ticking! What the heck are you going to do with all this food to ensure it isn’t wasted?

Luckily, it’s easy enough to preserve food for a later date, and you don’t necessarily need fancy equipment to do so.

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Zero Waste Oat and Banana Muffins

Zero Waste Oat and Banana Muffins

Do you have a couple of sad, speckled brown bananas in your fruit bowl whilst you read this? I know I do…

Excellent, they are PEFECT to be made into banana muffins and the browner and older they are the better, as they’re sweeter!

However, if you haven’t got bananas in this sad looking sate- have no fear, you can speed up the browning process by whacking them in the oven.

Pop the two very yellow bananas on a baking tray. They may leak a little, so don’t just shove them on the oven shelf.

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Box Schemes: The best solution for food waste?

Welcome to Farm House Austin! 

A team of 45 strong who deliver veg boxes to Austin's local community, who I recently had the pleasure of meeting.

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Austin Farm House offers a weekly delivery service that gives you the ingredients to make up to 4 meals a week, all the contents come from local sources and are therefore naturally healthy. 

Steve the head chief said, "Easy to cook meals help our customers gain in confidence in the kitchen not only with knife skills but also cooking healthy meals for the whole family."
 This is what a typical week in recipes looks like

This is what a typical week in recipes looks like

What I loved most about farmhouse was their ethos of using local produce, helping to distribute food from local farmers to the community. They have a big no waste policy where any leftover food either gets made into broths, dehydrated to make something else or donated. Steve showed me how they turn food into broths and sauces when they have no use for it:

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Portion control is a must, recent studies show that in America:

"Obesity is common, serious and costly. More than one-third (36.5%) of U.S. adults have obesity"

They weigh out each ingredient so that couples and families can serve the right portion sizes. Farm House have even started hosting cooking classes so that the local community can learn how to cook real, wholesome food. 

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Farm House try to reduce their waste as much as possible but sometimes it's inevitable, they need a way of transporting the food to local households. At the moment they currently use bags to divide food portions which are not ideal due to the plastic. However, they do use re-useable freezer bags which customers can give back once they've used them so they are in constant circulation. 

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I found their eat clean policies truly inspiring:

We love…

  • Long-term ecological sustainability and regenerative practices. We believe in treating the soil with just as much care and respect as the plants and animals that call it home.
  • Only using natural, homoeopathic, and biodynamic treatments for plants and animals.
  • When we order your fruits and vegetables, they’re still in the ground. Your produce has been harvested within days of getting to your front door, ensuring the freshest quality and highest nutritional value.
  • High animal welfare standards. We only believe in pasture-raising animals and humane processing practices. We support ranchers who treat their animals with kindness and respect and feed their animals using the same food standards we hold our own food to.
  • Paying farmers fairly and honouring our commitments. Eating clean isn’t just about the chemical makeup of the food we eat, it’s also about nurturing healthy and positive relationships with those who raise our food.

 

No Thanks

  • We don’t support the use of synthetic preservatives, chemical pesticides, growth hormones, non-therapeutic antibiotics, artificial additives, high-fructose corn syrup, GMOs, or ingredients we can’t pronounce.
  • We don’t support undercutting the farmer. Clean, quality food takes a lot of time and resources to raise. We think that’s valuable, as are the people who make it happen.
  • We don’t support unkind treatment of animals, including enclosed feedlots, long-term caging of animals, cramped or unclean living conditions, long-distance travel to processing facilities, low-quality feed, or any unkind treatment of animals.
In the end, we ask ourselves one easy question. Do I feel good about feeding this to my family? And then we go with our hearts.
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Box schemes like Farm House Delivery in Austin, Texas can be massively beneficial to the local economy. They support farmers by paying up front for vegetables, they feed local people wholesome food and help the community eat a balanced diet. The only downside to some box schemes is that they have to separate the ingredients into different bags for their customers which produces waste.

So if this can be eradicated in the future then I LOVE a good box scheme! This could make a huge difference in my own community. If you feel the same the soil association recently bought out a tracker which helps you find your local veg scheme. 

Personally, I use Organic Lea who I recently visited to find more about- as they are close to where I live....

Zero Waste Avocado Toast

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I’m a millennial, therefore, I love a good avocado toast. However, as I am a millennial, I am also very aware of the farming issues which are currently related to avocado production.

I’ve been in such an ethical pickle with this one that I actually considered not posting this recipe. I then reflected on the reasons why I purchased avocados, and realised that it was because they’re a very bountiful fruit at the market, which I buy in a large quantity, before it goes off to avoid food waste and this blog is all about reducing that kind of waste.

So, after a lot of pondering, I decided I would post this blog, risk feeling like a hypocrite as I am using avocados in my recipe, but also use this as a platform to share the ethical issues which surround the avocado.

As with any super-fruit such as blueberries or, pomegranates, our love for these fruits puts a huge strain on farmers and it is often a lot more profitable for them to swap to this super-fruit. Those which don’t lose out on wages, and those who do have to keep up with what could be a fickle passing trend.

Unfortunately, growing avocados in large quantities to ensure there are enough at our supermarkets and market stalls means that the Mexicans, who are typically farming these crops, have to cut down the rainforest for space, use nasty fertilisers and pesticides to grow the crop. It also takes about 272 litres to grow about 2 or 3 medium avocados!

It doesn’t just stop with the environmental issues either. As this crop is very profitable, it’s increasing trade is controlled by the Mexican drugs cartels. Whilst switching to avocados which aren’t produced in Mexico may seem like the best way to clear our conscience, it is highly likely that the same issues are happening world wide.

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My take on this information is that I will still have the occasional avocado, but that I’d prefer to get the fats and nutrients I would receive from the avocado through other fruit and vegetable sources.

If all that hasn’t put you off what is a super yummy meal, here is our avocado toast recipe. We made our own bread for this recipe, and we also wrote a guide about buying good bread if you can’t or don’t want to make your own.

Low Waste Avocado Toast

Didn’t feel right calling this one Zero Waste, given all the back issues I’ve discussed above.

Author: A Zero Waste Life
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 2 slices
Dietary information: GF (choose a GF bread), DF, vegan

Category: Breakfast, lunch, dinner- whenever you want to eat it!

EQUIPMENT

  • Knife

  • Chopping board

  • Toaster

  • Fork

  • Bowl

INGREDIENTS

  • Either one very large, two medium or three small avocados

  • Two slices of bread, which we decided to toast

  • Topping of your choice. We used half a red onion, chilli flakes and

    pistachios

  • Olive oil

    *Note: other toppings could be lemon juice, black ground pepper, sea salt, other

    nuts or seeds- it’s up to you!

If you're nowhere near a bulk shop, our friends at Plastic Free Pantry have kindly given you guys a discount code! Just type zerowastelife10 at the checkout.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Peel and chop your avocados. Put all the seeds, skins and bad parts into the compost.

  2. Put all the yummy avocado into a bowl. Mash with your fork. Leave on the side

  3. Chop up your toppings

  4. Toast the bread, if you want

  5. Put the toast onto a plate, add the avocado and toppings and drizzle all with olive oil.

  6. Marvel at your creation

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #azerowastelife!

 

The good, better and best Bread guide

Bread, brood, pane, pain, brød, duona, kruh

Wherever you live and whatever you call it, bread is likely to be in your diet in some form or another.

I love it as much as the next person –the smell of it when it's just baked, the versatility of it, the different varieties along with the variety of toppings it can be matched with. 

Sad news time. 

I'm gluten intolerant which is tricky to navigate in the world of zero waste – because the gluten free loaves of bread are often those ones which are in shrink wrap plastic, they have excess non-recyclable packaging or have inner cardboard sleeves which are non-recyclable due to food contamination. I understand, for consumers who are celiac, they need to trust that their foods have not touched any gluten containing items so they can rest assured that they're not about to poison themselves. 

I'm not celiac, I'm intolerant to gluten. Eating it is not damaging to my long-term health, but it does upset my stomach, my sleeping pattern, my concentration and my skin, so I know it's best avoided. For me, a gluten free, zero waster, I do find it frustrating that these GF products are wrapped in such materials that are damaging to the environment.

I wish there was another option when buying from the shops, that could meet peoples dietary needs, but not spoil the environment. 

This, teamed with the fact that my boyfriend is dairy free (I know, we're a right pair) and that I enjoy making foods from scratch means that I make my own bread. I have put my oat bread recipe below.

If you're time short, not gluten or dairy free, or just totally CBA to make your own bread, here are our zero waste suggestions. We have split them into a GOOD option, a BETTER option, and the BEST option. Depending on what stage you're at now, try the next level up when you buy bread:

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  • GOOD: Supermarket shopping, off the shelf

Opt for the bread wrapped entirely in a paper which can be recycled, or, if this isn't possible, buy it in the plastic wrapper and find a bag recycle point which you can use.

Avoid the paper bags with the film windows, as these can't be recycled easily.

  • BETTER: Supermarket shopping, from the baked goods section

A lot of supermarkets, both the lower and higher end ones, have a baked goods section.

Take your own bread bag, or a clean pillowcase, tote bag, beeswax wrap or another suitable container, to avoid having to take a new one. 

This option is better as you've removed the need to recycle any packaging.

  • BEST: Shopping from a bakery or farm shop

Like the previous step, bring your own bag/wrap/box to take your baked goods away in.

Why is this the best option? Well, I believe in supporting small businesses and farmers over supermarkets. I also believe that they use higher quality ingredients and are naturally less wasteful than a supermarket as they don't distribute their goods around a country or continent.

Or

Make your own! Source your ingredients from a bulk shop, or, buy the flours in recyclable packaging (this is often the only option when baking GF and DF). This is why I've called this a low waste bread, rather than a zero waste Bread, as I end up with some form of packaging at the end.

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Equipment

  • Bowl
  • Wooden spoon, or, a bread machine, if you have access to one
  • Bread pan
  • Jug

Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Low Waste Bread

Yes, there are still ingredients in it, not just air...

Author: A Zero Waste Life
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Proving time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 45- 60 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Yield: 1 loaf
Dietary information: GF, DF

Category: Breakfast, lunch, dinner- whenever you want to eat it!

Ingredients

  • 500ml warm water
  • 2 tsp dried yeast (if you can't get this from a bulk shop, Allison's yeast is in a tin, for roughly £1)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 500g GF bread flour (Doves farm, Brown Gluten Free Bread flour is amazing, and in a paper packet)
  • 100g old fashion oats- gluten-free if required

*Note- this can easily be made into a seeded loaf, by only using 50g oats and using seeds like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, poppy seeds – whatever you can get without plastic!

If you're nowhere near a bulk shop, our friends at Plastic Free Pantry have kindly given you guys a discount code! Just type zerowastelife10 at the checkout.

The photos show that this was made in a Thermomix. It can also be made in a bread machine – I've written the instructions out to be made by hand. See notes at the bottom if you want to use a bread machine/Theromomix.

Instructions

  1. Mix the dried yeast into the warm water in a large bowl. Leave the yeast somewhere warm, like in your airing cupboard, for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, use a little oil to grease the bread pan if necessary
  2. Add all other ingredients to the bowl
  3. Mix with the wooden spoon. It will be quite sticky, this is normal
  4. Pour into the bread pan
  5. Cover with a clean tea towel. Put it back in the warm place you used earlier for up to an hour. It will increase in size, but not as much as a loaf with gluten would
  6. Meanwhile, set oven to gas mark 6/ 200 degrees/ 400F
  7. Bake for 45 minutes. Check after this time, and bake for another 15 minutes if necessary
  8. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool, then remove from the tin
  9. Add any topping you like. We made Nutella and avocado toast!

Note: if you want to freeze this, slice it up on the day you bake it and lay the slices flat in the freezer.

This bread tastes its best on the day it's baked, then is best as toast.

To make this in a Thermomix: Rather than leaving the yeast to rise in step 1, you can add the water and yeast to the main bowl of TM and set to 2 minutes 30/ 37 degrees/ speed 2.

In step 3, use the kneed function, rather than using a wooden spoon. Select kneed/ 2 minutes 30 on the kneading function.

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Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #azerowastelife!