The Easy Method To Give Your Vegetable Scraps A New Lease On Life

Cutting back on food waste is important for many reasons, from saving money to helping the environment. Every year across the world, it is estimated that 1.3 billion tons of food go to waste, according to Zero Waste Scotland, which, if put into financial terms, would be about $940 billion. Another result of food waste is it accounts for about 8% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the world. The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that, in the U.S. alone, about 133 billion pounds of food were wasted in 2010, worth a whopping $161 billion. To put it into perspective, that's about 30% to 40% of the total food supply in the country.

If you're wondering how you can keep your food waste at a minimum, we have a simple solution that allows you to repurpose the scraps from your favorite vegetable soup or stir-fry without much extra effort.

Try a brine or fermentation

A pickle brine or fermentation can be the saving grace for your vegetable scraps, according to Food & Wine. While this tip will work for any leftover veggies, Edible Sarasota recommends the method particularly for the ends of carrots, pieces of onion, and the tops of your peppers. 

Keeping a container of homemade pickle brine in the refrigerator gives you a quick yet equally delicious way to enjoy those vegetables later. Either prepare the brine in advance (a basic brine calls for boiling water, white vinegar, sugar, and kosher salt, per Southern Living) and add the veggies to your container or pour the brine over your jarred scraps — and voilà! You have your very own homemade pickles. This can be refrigerated for up to two months in a covered container and is ready to be consumed after two days of marinating. 

Fermentation will take a bit more time and effort. Put your vegetable scraps in an air-tight container with salt, spices, and room-temperature water, allowing them to lacto-ferment outside the refrigerator for a few days to achieve the classic pickle flavor (via Wild Brine). And be sure to follow the USDA's safety guidelines for at-home fermenting so you don't cause yourself or a loved one to become sick.

Once ready to eat, use your pickled veggies to top rice bowls, accompany your cocktail hour charcuterie board, or garnish your favorite alcoholic beverage — namely a Bloody Mary. Season with garlic, thyme, and other unique spices for extra-fun flavor.