Archive for the "food" category

How can I reuse or recycle well out-of-date red lentils?

The other day I was making some tomato & lentil soup for lunch when I found the pack and a half of red lentils in our store cupboard actually went out of (best before) date in January 2008. That’s pushing it even for our very lax attitude toward best before dates – and is especially special considering we moved house in September 2009 – we brought those packs with us from our own store cupboard to our new one even though they were already 18 months out of date…

Thankfully, we had a newly bought pack that I could use for my soup but I’m left in a typical Recycle This situation with the others: what else can I use the old lentils for?

Given dried beans & pulses do generally last forever, I’ll probably try the ones from the sealed pack but the open-for-God-knows-how-long pack are definitely passed being cooked & eaten.

So what else can I use them for instead of just throwing them in the compost bin?

Apparently, they can be used to make exfoliating facemasks – crushed and mixed with a little water until they reach an “oatmeal like consistency”, then rubbed onto the face and left for about half an hour. Similarly, Lush sell a “lentil shampoo bar” – not sure whether there are actually lentils in it or just the water from soaking them for about half an hour but the latter is a technique used as a conditioner in India – so either using the water in a shampoo bar or just as a rinse are options too.

Any other ideas?

How can I use up buffet sandwiches?

We’ve had a “clever idea” email from Jos, telling us about their personal battle against food waste at work:

This sounds so cheap but I regularly “steal” the last of the sandwiches after meetings at work because they’d go in the bin if I didn’t take them. I eat some fresh, freeze others to eat later and grill the cheese ones. I rarely make my own sarnies these days!

Ah yes, free lunches. I used to organise academic conferences & courses as part of my job and the scavenger in me loved the leftover buffet. The best I managed was a very fancy meeting which included both sushi & steak (in too-big-to-be-easy-finger-food pieces, so very little was eaten). Later on in my buffet foraging career though, the catering people started getting more aggressive about health & safety and we weren’t allowed to take anything unless we could promise it would be eaten immediately — and that is something to consider when taking sandwiches or whatever: they’ve already been out of a fridge for several hours so some fillings may already be getting a bit past it. Consume at your own risk.

Assuming they’re still good though, I like Jos’ idea of grilling some of them and certain flavours may lend themselves to being made into an interesting bread and butter pudding (perhaps not egg mayo but we used to get wacky fillings like cream cheese & strawberry, which would be quirky but not insane in a pudding).

Anyone else a buffet womble? Do you eat them fresh or revamp them?

How can I use up “past it” frozen vegetables?

We’ve had an email from Joanna:

I found some part-used bags of frozen peas, sweetcorn and broccoli at the bottom of my chest freezer – expiry date 2009! My hubs is happy to ignore expiry dates but we tried some of the peas and they were tough and tasted washed out, not good! Any other options than just giving them to my worms?

I know what you mean with “washed out” – even stuff in date sometimes ends up tasting like freezer ice in our freezer.

If I was sure it was just a texture/taste issue, I’d probably give the veggies to our chickens and let them turn them into more palatable-for-us eggs. Wild birds would probably nom them up too.

Depending on quite how “freezer” they taste, they might still be fine for turning into soup or for use in long-cooked casseroles. Any washed-out flavour disguising recipe suggestions?

If you’ve got the freezer space to spare, it might be worth keeping the peas or sweetcorn as an emergency cold-pack for injuries – they could then be given to birds/added to a wormery afterwards.

Any other ideas?

How can I reuse or recycle sweetcorn plants?

Tina has asked a very timely question:

what can I use sweetcorn plants for?

I like to eat or use as much of my plants as possible, before composting the rest. There must be a million uses for corn plants, but can I find any? help!

We’ve already covered the empty cobs, after the lovely juicy kernels have been nibbled away. (Some suggestions: dip them in peanut butters or some solid-at-room-temperature oil and cover with seeds to make quick bird feeders. Dry them for use as kindling when starting fires. Give them to guinea pigs or chickens to nibble/play with.)

But what about the rest of the plants? Can the strong, tall stems be used for anything? The paper-y wrapping that protects the head? Any reuse options other than just composting it?

Would love to hear your ideas for this! :)

How can I reuse or recycle Stax potato chip cans?

Tammy Gary has asked:

Would love ideas to reuse the Stax potato chip cans.

We don’t have Stax over here in the UK but my friend Google tells me they’re like Pringles, but packed in a plastic tube instead of waxed cardboard.

Some of the Pringles ideas will still apply: they’re great for storing knitting needles and paintbrushes, can be used as storage for homemade biscuits, and is useful as a small poster tube – for either storing documents without creasing or sending through the post.

As these bad buys are plastic (rather than card) so water-resistant, they will lend themselves to other reuses too – I’d imagine they could easily be turned into a bird feeder (cut a couple of feeding windows about a third/half of the way up, add a perch at the bottom then fill with seed), could be used for storing dried goods in the kitchen or as storage for small kids’ toys (eg lego or jigsaw pieces) or crayons.

Any other suggestions?