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I’m a chef and these are 6 ingredients you’re throwing away that can be used to make something tasty

Kieran Duffy, head chef at York restaurant Forage Bar & Kitchen

Wake up and smell the coffee grounds.

That’s the message from one creative chef who reveals that it is one of several ‘ingredients’ commonly thrown in the bin that can be upcycled to help make something mouthwatering.

Kieran Duffy is head chef at York restaurant Forage Bar & Kitchen, which reuses and upcycles ingredients to create ‘delicious menu dishes’.

He says: ‘There are a lot of things we are led to believe have to be thrown away – such as vegetable peels, stalks and meat skins – that, if preserved and re-used in the right way, can actually be really tasty and handy-to-use in your cooking.’

Read on for his list of six ingredients you’re throwing away that can be re-used.

1. Coffee

Forage Bar & Kitchen’s coffee-rubbed pork chopped 

Kieran said: ‘After making a pot of coffee, don’t throw away your used coffee grounds, as these can be used to make a delicious meat rub. Take the leftover or excess grounds from your machine or cafetiere and mix with salt, pepper, and spices such as smoked paprika, chilli flakes, garlic powder, ground coriander and cayenne pepper. This will create a flavourful rub that you can smother onto pork belly, beef brisket and even steak, to bring out some tasty flavours.’

2. Artichokes

Kieran said: ‘Artichokes are really versatile and can be used in many ways. A lot of people like the hearts on pizza and charred as an antipasto. We make a silky hummus out of them in the restaurant, but we don’t throw away the peelings, and instead dehydrate these and then either fry them to use as a crisp or blend them to turn into a salt for seasoning.

‘At home you can do this by drying out the peelings, then seasoning with salt and pepper and adding a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice. Then either put them in your oven on low heat for three to four hours. Or if you have an air fryer, fry them in that for extra crunch. You’ll now have healthy, flavourful crisps, which you can dip into hummus or aioli.’

3. Chillies

Forage Bar & Kitchen’s onglet steak with pickled chillies

Kieran said: ‘When cooking at home using fresh chillies, it’s common to throw away the stalks and ends of the chilli, especially if you don’t want to add too much spice. Instead, save the tops and stalks and immerse in olive oil, creating a chilli-infused oil that will elevate your cooking. We use this method to enhance our dishes and make a spicy emulsion for our “Forage Fried Chicken”.

‘Chillies are also often bought in packs, so you may not get a chance to use all of them before they start to turn. We like to pickle chillies to use in our herb zhug – a thick hot sauce that accompanies prawns on our menu – and this method can preserve the vegetables for longer. Drop your excess whole chillies into a glass jar and then cook off some vinegar, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, salt and sugar in a saucepan. Pour this liquid into the jar and leave overnight and you’ll have lovely pickled chillies to use for months.’

4. Garlic and Onion Skins

Kieran said: ‘Onion and garlic are staples in most dishes, and the amount of onion and garlic peels thrown away quickly adds up. You can use the skins to turn into seasoning, saving you money on shop-bought onion or garlic powder. Give the skins a quick rinse and dry out on a rack, then bake in the oven for around three hours. Once they come out all crispy, pop them in a blender and you’ve got homemade garlic or onion powder.

‘You can also use the skins to make your own stock, by boiling in water with carrots, celery, herbs and spices with any meat juices you have left over from cooking. Then strain and you have a delicious stock.’

5. Strawberry leaves

Forage Bar & Kitchen (above) reuses and upcycles ingredients to create ‘delicious menu dishes’

Kieran said: ‘Strawberries are a delicate summer treat and while we use them for drinks and desserts, many people cut off and discard the tops. The leaves, however, are perfectly edible, and you can use them to turn a plain vodka or gin into a tangy-sweet strawberry-infused spirit – similar to how we do it in the distillery at Forage.’

‘Take all the tops from a 500g box of strawberries and add to a jar or glass bottle. Pour over vodka so the vessel is filled and then leave for a few days and you’ll have your strawberry-top vodka to use in cocktails, or drink on its own with soda and lime.

‘If you want a nice cocktail to drink immediately, you can also make a delectable daiquiri by blending up a few shots of rum, juice from a lime, two tablespoons of sugar syrup, some ice and a couple of handfuls of whole strawberries – with the tops on!’

6. Chicken skin

Kieran said: ‘Instead of throwing away chicken skins from your Sunday roast, reheat in olive oil and then pan fry for three to four minutes until golden brown. These little crispy bits can be used to enhance stir fries, salads and other dishes throughout the week. Remember to save the oil you’ve cooked your chicken skins in – the fat will have combined with the oil to be extra tasty and you can use this in your cooking, such as making flavour-packed roasted vegetables.’

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