Save What You Develop: Ideas for Lowering Meals Waste

8 mins read
Photograph: Bev Thierwechter

By Fern Campbell

Piedmont Grasp Gardener

Rising your personal greens, herbs and fruits brings many advantages, from taste, freshness and vitamin to assurance your produce is coming from a wholesome, pesticide-free supply. It can also deliver extra contemporary meals than you and your loved ones can devour. Don’t let it go to waste.

Meals waste is a large drawback in our nation. Roughly 40 % of meals within the U.S. provide chain is wasted, and far of that waste occurs within the dwelling kitchen. ReFED, a nationwide non-profit working to deal with this difficulty, estimates that 43 % of meals wasted by weight, or 27 million tons yearly, happens at dwelling. Wasted with it are all the precious sources—resembling water and cropland—used to provide that meals. We are able to do higher, each collectively and individually.

Listed below are some straightforward, sensible methods dwelling gardeners may also help fight meals waste.

Share What You Develop

When you’re like most gardeners, you’re keen on sharing your bounty with associates and neighbors. You too can share it with folks in want. The Piedmont Grasp Gardeners are making this simpler with a brand new program—“Share Your Harvest”—that connects gardeners with native meals banks and meals pantries that serve the food-insecure in our group. Go to, and discover particulars beneath the tab “Share Your Harvest.”

Retailer It Proper; Make It Final

Easy storage methods will assist stop untimely spoilage of meals you develop or buy.

Put meals to be eaten quickly on the entrance of the fridge.

Don’t wash fruits and veggies till proper earlier than you eat them.

Retailer onions and potatoes in a dry, cool spot, and retailer them individually; in any other case, the onions will trigger the potatoes to sprout.

Maintain carrots and beets within the moist, chilly fridge; typically, the purpose with storage crops is to persuade the roots to stay dormant, responding as if they’re nonetheless within the floor.

Separate excessive ethylene-producing meals from those who aren’t. Maintain bananas, avocados, peaches, pears and cantaloupes away from apples, leafy greens, berries and peppers.

 Don’t Toss Meals Too Quickly 

Revive carrots, celery, broccoli, salad greens and herbs with a fast soak in ice water or use them in cooked dishes.

Flip stale bread into toast or breadcrumbs or crisp up crackers or chips in a toaster or toaster oven.

Make a flavorful broth with carrot peels, celery leaves, parsley stems, mushroom stems and onion skins.

Add fruits starting to spoil to smoothies or baked items.

Once you buy meals, know your labels. “Finest if utilized by” signifies when meals might not style or carry out as anticipated however remains to be protected to devour. “Use by” refers to meals that’s extremely perishable and/or won’t be suitable for eating after the label’s date.

Be taught to Protect

Meals will be preserved in a wide range of methods. Comply with instructions intently and construct your abilities with follow.

Freeze it

Most meals will be frozen and nonetheless retain their high quality. Freezing prevents microorganisms from rising and slows food-degrading enzyme exercise.

Blanch greens by exposing them briefly to boiling water or steam, then instantly switch to an ice bathtub to cease the cooking course of. As soon as cooled, dry, then freeze. The Nationwide Middle for Residence Meals Preservation recommends blanching occasions for various greens at

Freeze meal-size parts. Leftovers grow to be time-saving future meals!

Freeze small parts of leftover sauces, inventory or chopped herbs for the subsequent tasty recipe.

Put meals in self-sealing freezer luggage or hermetic inflexible containers. Common storage luggage usually are not sturdy sufficient. Depart headspace to permit liquids to increase.

Keep away from freezing meals with excessive water content material, resembling lettuce or celery.

Place juice from outdated lemons or limes in ice dice trays, freeze in a single day and pop cubes right into a freezer container the subsequent day.

Dehydrate it

One of many oldest and most secure strategies of preserving meals, dehydration removes moisture so micro organism, yeasts and molds can’t develop. It may be used to make such snacks as meat jerky, dried nuts, fruit chips, fruit leathers, dried tomatoes and dried peppers. The optimum temperature for drying meals is 140 levels F. An electrical dehydrator is an efficient possibility.

Can it

Canning preserves meals by heating to destroy microorganisms and enzymes, after which eradicating the air to vacuum-seal the jar. Though that is probably the most technical and time-consuming food-preservation technique, it’s effectively definitely worth the effort. Bear in mind:

With high-acid meals, resembling tomatoes, spores gained’t germinate at pH lower than 4.6. This implies meals will be processed or “canned” in boiling water.

Low-acid greens and meats should be processed in a stress canner at 240 levels F. at 10 kilos stress at sea degree.

Fruits will be preserved with sugar to make jams, jellies and marmalades.

To forestall botulism and different issues, observe USDA security tips. Go to the Nationwide Middle for Residence Meals Preservation’s web site ( to search out USDA’s Full Information to Residence Canning and different useful sources.

Ferment or pickle it

With fermenting, micro organism digest the sugars in greens resembling cabbage or radishes, managed considerably by a salty brine. The ensuing fermented greens will be saved within the fridge for months. Pickling entails soaking meals in an acidic liquid to provide a bitter taste.

Compost Moderately Than Landfill

In response to the EPA, extra meals reaches landfill and combustion amenities than another kind of trash, amounting to 22 % of the nation’s waste stream. Composting meals waste will maintain it out of the dump. Sources on the Piedmont Grasp Gardeners’ web site ( will show you how to get began. If composting at dwelling isn’t doable, think about using the providers supplied by the Rivanna Strong Waste Authority or Black Bear Composting. Their web sites supply particulars on their composting applications.

By making small shifts in how we retailer and protect meals, we will toss much less, eat effectively, get monetary savings, and maintain precious sources from going to waste. 

Photograph: Fern Campbell

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