Zero-waste cooking is pretty self explanatory, its the process of cooking without creating any waste from the produce or the packaging. The concept of zero-waste is very fast becoming a lifestyle trend that’s buzzing around social media channels. And it has fast become the new buzzword in the world of Michelin starred chefs who proudly state they run a completely zero waste kitchen. From a sustainability standpoint this is clearly fantastic but limited if its only happening in the most elite restaurants in the world. So, can we do the same at home?
The short answer is yes of course, the slightly longer answer entails how?
A relatively small and simple step is to choose to shop at a zero-waste grocery store. These types of shops have been on the rise in the last few years as people are making the switch to a zero-waste approach to shopping and their general lifestyle. If you’re based in Liverpool as we are, we have great stores such as Purple Carrot nearby who offer zero waste options and Om Nom Zero Waste in Southport who are a completely zero-waste shop.
These stores are a really easy way to avoid buying plastic bags or glass jars of dried goods like rice, grains or spices. The concept of a zero-waste grocery store is that you bring your own jars or bottles from home, fill them with the produce you need and pay for the weight of that produce. Simple!
Another bonus of this method is if you only need a small amount for a recipe, you can buy just what you need.
You can get a few different sized clip top jars from the likes of Ikea, use them for specific dry good items, oils and vinegars and refill them as and when you need to. If there isn’t an indie zero waste shop local to you, most supermarkets now do refill packs of various essential items. This is a step away from endlessly recycling glass and plastic which does still have an affect on the environment.
Secondly, you must get creative with your food to avoid putting any of it in the bin. This is admittedly easier said than done, but pickling, preserving and fermenting are all valuable tools here.
It’s the principle fermentation process for sauerkraut and kimchi but can be used for anything you wish to preserve, specifically through fermentation. Sauerkraut is traditionally made from white cabbage, but you can use carrots, beetroot, spring onions, parsnips, brussels sprouts, pretty much any seasonal vegetables you have spare which are about to go to waste.
Weigh out all the ingredients you’re using, and you just need some good quality flaky salt, weigh out 2% in salt of the total weight of the ingredients. For example, if your veggies weigh 100g you will need 2g of salt.
For a Sauerkraut, you will need to grate or finely slice your veggies and then mix it with the salt, all together in a bowl. Massage for 5-10 mins until the veggies start to soften and liquid is forming. Once you’ve got a fair volume of liquid, you want to pack them into your clip top jar and squash them down using your hands, place a weight on top to keep the veggies submerged in the brine and leave them for 7-10 days.
Taste them on day 7 and see how you find the taste; longer time means a funkier taste. Once you’re happy with the taste, pop the jar in the fridge and it will keep for up to six months.
You can use your veggie kraut in place of coleslaw in a sandwich, use it to top hummus for extra crunch, makes a killer cheese toastie or just use it as a side to any meal.
Added bonus, if you have any cut off ends of veggies, pop them in a tub and keep in the freezer. Then once your container is full by throwing the veggie scraps into boiling water you can make a real easy veggie stock.
These are some small and simple steps you can do to move towards zero waste cooking. For many shopping zero-waste can be more effort and isn’t the most affordable option for everyone, but small and simple changes that suit your lifestyle can still make a huge impact on the planet and your pocket. If you are interested in reading up on some more techniques and tips, Chef Douglas McMaster is the founder of Silo, the first zero waste restaurant and his book alongside the restaurant’s Instagram are valuable tools to give you ideas on how to reduce your waste and make some delicious food.
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch as ever, we love chatting ferments and zero waste solutions, so feel free to complete the contact us form below, slide into our DMs on Instagram or send us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.