Many menu items highlight the best of the ingredients they contain. Beef filet, grilled vegetables, and salads are just a few dishes that may require disposing of a part of the raw material. With the rise in food costs worldwide, disregarding the odds and ends of an ingredient is becoming moreandmore expensive. By thinking up creative ways of incorporating the less “beautiful” parts of certain foods in other dishes, food costs can be lowered and waste can be decreased.
The easiest, most hassle-free solution for odds and ends of ingredients is to use them for stock by throwing them in a large stock pot. Carrot ends? Celery leaves? Parsley stalks? Throw them into water or already-cooking stock to intensify the flavor. The stock can later be used as a base for sauces, soups, and cooking liquid for meat, poultry, fish, pasta…basically any raw ingredient.
French fries and potato salad require most, but not all of the potato. The small, unaesthetic leftovers that are a different size and shape from the rest of the pieces, after the potato is cut, cannot be served as part of the dish. From these scraps, as well as the scraps of almost every other starchy vegetable, delicious mashed vegetables or gnocchi can be added as a side to another dish on the menu. Using ingredients other than potato will add a twist to these staples: cauliflower purée made with cauliflower stalks, sweet potato gnocchi, or any of the other endless possibilities.
The thin ends of beef filet or chicken breast can be sliced and thrown into stir-fry. The ends of a fish filet, unsubstantial enough for a main, on their own, can be minced and used in fish cakes. Broccoli stems, carrots, zucchini, and kohlrabi can be julienned with a vegetable slicer and used in stir-fry, fritters, or slaw.
In patisserie, nothing needs to be wasted. Leftover creams and ganaches from tarts can be used to fill verrines, small glasses, to make layered desserts. The “ugly” bits from fruits that have been cut nicely to use as garnish or for aesthetic purposes, can be recycled in sauces, ice creams, and mousses. Over-ripe fruits are ideal for transforming into jams, crumbles, and cakes. Browned bananas, for example, will make the best banana cake. Even old egg whites are prized, being preferable to new eggs, in recipes for French macaroons.
The possibilities for rejuvenating left over ingredients are endless. Though it is impossible to utilize 100% of raw ingredients, there are many steps that can be taken to significantly increase the percentage of an item that is used, and thereby reduce the cost of meals. The cost saving ideas touched upon in this article are only a small slice of the options that extra food bits and pieces provide for being creative in the kitchen while increasing restaurant profits.