If you’re like me and doubt yourself every time you’re about to throw away any part of a perfectly beautiful fruit or vegetable, take a seat and keep reading.
The perfectly fresh peels taken off bananas, the mountain of green/white rind left behind after cutting away the pink flesh of watermelon, the jug full of carrot pulp left behind after a session of juicing, the fragrant peels of oranges … the list goes on.
It just doesn’t feel right to dump this so-called waste in the trash bin, with the hope that either it will be transformed into natural fertiliser by the earth or some stray animal will find their nourishment in it. Also, it is not unusual for the peel/rind/skin to contain just as much — if not more — nutrients than the fruit or vegetable itself. So why are we throwing away perfectly edible stuff?
Since I never take the peels off apples and cucumbers, and cook most vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, ginger, carrots, turnips, zucchini all included) with their skin on, it took only a little bit of investigating and experimenting to find some delicious ways to further cut down food wastage.
There is the easy-peasy cheesecake made with carrot pulp, then yummy banana peel chutney that originated in Bengal, followed by a zesty Moroccan-inspired watermelon rind pickle. Finally, there is the candied orange peel which can be eaten as it is or added to cakes and muffins for a delicious hint of citrusy flavour. All the recipes are simple, quick to make, and super easy on the wallet.
WATERMELON RIND PICKLE:
8 cups sliced and peeled watermelon rind, cut in one-inch pieces
6 cups water
1 cup salt
4 cups sugar
2 cups white vinegar
2 cinnamon sticks (3 inches)
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
Place the rind in a large bowl; stir in water and salt. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Rinse and drain well.
In a pot, mix sugar, vinegar, two cinnamon sticks, cloves and black peppercorns. Bring to a boil. Add rinds and return to boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 10 minutes or until the rind pieces are tender. Discard cinnamon sticks.
Carefully divide hot mixture into sterilised jars, leaving at least 1/2-inch space on the top. Remove air bubbles, then screw on lids tightly. Wait approximately two weeks before eating.
CARROT PULP CHEESECAKE:
3 cups of carrot pulp
½ cup sugar
8-oz block of cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large eggs
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon ginger powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
2 teaspoons baking powder
Preheat oven to 375°F. Measure the carrot pulp by pressing it down into a cup measure.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together sugar, cream cheese and olive oil. Add eggs and beat well. Add carrot pulp, milk and spices and beat well. Add baking powder.
Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a nine-inch pan, then pour in the batter. Put the pan in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn down the heat to 325°F and bake for another 30 minutes or until the surface is golden brown and a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. The centre will be soft, not springy when pressed on.
Cool on the counter, and then chill in the fridge for at least two hours before serving.
BANANA PEEL CHUTNEY:
Peels of 5 bananas
1 banana, chopped
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 small green chilli, chopped
4 cloves of garlic
Red pepper flakes to taste
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
Salt to taste
Boil the peels for 15 minutes. Drain and chop them into small pieces.
Sauté mustard seeds in oil until they start to pop. Add the red pepper flakes, garlic and onion, and continue to sauté until golden brown. Then add the chilli and banana peels and cook for three more minutes. Add turmeric, chopped banana and salt and cook for five minutes.
Put the mixture into a blender and blend just until combined. The chutney should be lumpy.
CANDIED ORANGE PEEL:
Peel of 2 large oranges 4 cups sugar 3 cups water
Cut the peel of each orange (white pith included) into quarter-inch strips. Cook in large pot of boiling water 15 minutes; drain, rinse and drain again.
Bring three cups sugar mixed with three cups water to boil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Add peel. Return to boil. Reduce heat; simmer for about 30 minutes until peel is very soft, then drain. Toss the peel in one cup of sugar, separating the strips.
Lay individual strips on baking sheet or a tray and let stand until coating is dry (one to two days).