USE EVERY PART
There are plenty of fruits and vegetables that you can use almost every part of. Carrot tops have a flavor similar to parsley, but since they’re a bit stronger, it’s nice to use them in tandem with other herbs like cilantro and basil. We love this carrot-top pesto drizzled over roasted carrots and shallots. Also try them out in any herby sauce, like a salsa verde, chimichurri, or gremolata.
The greens (or tops) of beets and turnips can also be saved from the bin. They’re lovely cooked, with a texture that’s sturdier than spinach but more tender than kale or collard greens. And it’s as if you’ve got two vegetables for the price of one. Like most greens, they can be sautéed simply with olive oil, garlic, and chili flakes and finished with a bit of lemon juice or sherry vinegar for an incredibly flavorful low-waste side. You can add more spices to the mix, as in this Moroccan-inspired beet green dish, or toss them into soups. The tops would also be nice in this brothy Garlic and Greens soup or a purée, like our Everything Green Soup.
So much of citrus’s flavor lives not in the juice but in the zest or peel. If you know you’re going use a lot of citrus juice, you can save all that flavor by preemptively zesting your lemons, limes, grapefruits, or oranges and freezing their zest for future use. You could even cut the peel off, avoiding the bitter white pith, and candy it for garnishes—just slice thinly and follow the instructions for the candied kumquats in this panna cotta recipe.
BRING THEM BACK TO LIFE
Limp veggies can almost always be brought back to life, so don’t worry if your carrots, celery, fennel, radishes, or bunched greens are looking a bit sad. In most cases, if you trim the stem end, place them in a large jar or vase with a few inches of water, and leave them in the fridge overnight, they will come back better than ever. Celery and fennel will regain their hydrating crunch. Carrots and radishes will have their audible snap again. And kale, chard, and collard greens will be restored to their sturdy selves. You can further extend the life of carrots, radishes, turnips, and beets by separating the greens from the vegetable itself—they tend to draw moisture and both parts will keep longer if not attached.
FIND USE FOR THE IMPERFECT
For moments when you can’t restore produce to its former glory, try to find a use for it anyway. Those bruised apples or pears and slightly wrinkled cucumbers you didn’t get to in time can become a refreshing juice or smoothie if tossed into a juicer or a powerful blender with some ginger.
The freezer is one of our favorite tools for eliminating food waste. Toss that bag of spinach or salad mix that’s about to go bad directly into the freezer and you’ve got smoothie greens for days. Another freezer hack is having a stock bag or bin. This is where you can stash vegetable scraps for making stock or bone broth at a moment’s notice. There’s tons of potential here: You can save onion peels and ends, garlic peels, carrot peels, celery ends and leaves, parsley stems, fennel fronds, and mushroom stems. The scraps that would have otherwise landed in the trash will make any broth deeply aromatic.