Incredible edibles you’ve been throwing out or adding to the compost pile might just belong on the dinner table.
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They’re great for veggie stock, but they’re a surprise ingredient for a pungent tea and are rich in antioxidants such as quercetin. Simply steep the skins of an onion in boiling water or a tea baller for a few minutes, bearing in mind that the longer they sit, the more assertive the tea will become.
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There’s no need to throw away a jar of pickle juice once you’ve eaten all the cukes. Just do as Molly Siegler, culinary content editor for Whole Foods Markets does, and store blanched veggies or hard-boiled eggs in the pickling liquid.
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Fennel is so flowery and showy, but we typically only use the bulb part. Add the fronds to a flower arrangement, or steep them in hot water for a mild anise-flavored tea. Chef Bruce Kalman of Union in Pasadena turns fennel fronds into sorbet. Start by juicing the fronds—you’ll want 2 cups of liquid. Then mix the juice with 2 cups of simple syrup and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Pour the mixture into an ice cream machine, or turn it into a granita by freezing in a shallow container (stirring with a fork every hour, fluffing once it starts to freeze). Kalman finishes it off with a pinch of flaky sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil.
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Cookbook author Dina Cheney likes to grind up the stems of dehydrated herbs (such as cilantro, basil, or mint) in a coffee grinder. She then adds them to salt or sugar in a ratio of 1-to-4 (herbs to salt or sugar) to create a finishing seasoning, which can be sprinkled on both sweet and savory dishes.
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Pickle them. Slice off all the pink fruit and pickle the green rinds using your favorite recipe or try this one for starters.
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Cherry pits can add a new, nutty dimension to ice cream. Pastry chef Diana Valenzuela of Elan in New York City smashes the pits with a meat mallet, picks through the pits for the kernels, and then toasts them in the oven at 300 degrees for about 10 minutes. She then pulverizes 2 tablespoons of cherry pits with 1 cup of organic cane sugar to a fine dust and sprinkles over ice cream.
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If you can or jam, you likely produce a great deal of discarded skins. Instead, you can ferment peach, plum, apple, or apricot skins (fermenting is a long process; try this recipe) and use the resulting vinegar as a tonic with seltzer (like an old-fashioned shrub), as a marinade, or in a salad dressing.