Making sauce to combat kitchen food waste…
We’ve all been there. Herbs wilt rapidly in the fridge. Garlic and ginger dry up in a flash. Mangoes and avocados ripen on the countertop before we are ready to use them. These things always seem happen at a time when the idea of a mango smoothie or avocado toast makes our noses crinkle. Organic produce (and produce in general) is not cheap. There is a lot of energy that goes into the production of food, plus a significant amount of logistical labor involved in moving food from the source to your kitchen. Throwing away food is like throwing away money, effort and even dreams.
Busy lives and reality itself make it impossible for us to mimic the idyllic food lives we see in magazines and on Instagram feeds. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t have all the time in the world to make frozen mango cubes, herbal oils, avocado pit grooming tools, ginger juice or pressed garlic for our beautiful, healthy lives. In the same verse, not everything can be tossed into an instapot so a magical dinner appears a workday later. Dinner unicorns only exist in Silicon Valley and Hollywood, and they are called private chefs.
I learned long ago that I was never going to be the person who prepares and tosses everything into my freezer before it goes bad. There is a special pang of guilt involved with tossing out frozen foods. Furthermore, I am not the target for pre-portioned home food deliveries that mean I must break down boxes, and then google how to recycle every tiny bag and package. Excess packaging waste, and the guilt that comes with it, doesn’t not sit well with me. My actions are rarely altered altered by “FOMO” (fear of missing out) and physically choosing my food is still one of my favorite experiences in life.
As the world continues to pay close attention to excess food waste, often pointing fingers at the worst offenders in the supply chain, I tend to lean towards the idea that food waste starts with me.
My way of combatting food waste is my own kitchen, which is also the test kitchen for Ger-Nis Culinary & Herb Center and the Crespo Organic Kitchen, is by making a sauce!
Regardless of time constraints or one’s kitchen prowess, we can all throw a bunch of perishable ingredients in blender and whip up a tasty result. A good sauce is not only useful and versatile but can make us feel like incredible cooks. A sauce made using would-become-food-waste comes with fantastic superhero feelings.
The world is full of marvelous sauces, most of which came as a practical matter, and in a way an answer to potential food waste; made to use up excess ingredients as well as ingredients that were easily accessible. Classics like Spanish Romesco, Italian Marinara, Indonesian Peanut Sauce, Mexican Mole, Argentinian Chimichurri, Georgian Tkemali or African Piri Piri, they all came as a matter of practicality. This utilitarian mindset is key and one we can adopt in our own modern kitchens, based on our own personal realities; whether that’s time, skill or even will.
I believe that we can have it all. We can continue to buy organic produce in abundance and cook and eat diversely and sustainably; putting healthy unprocessed foods in our bodies while celebrating the foods and cultures of the world. We can continue to examine food waste in the supply chain—there is a lot of it—and we can start with our own kitchens. The results can be life-changing.
Here is how I did it recently: in my own house and test kitchens.
It all started with some serious guilt over some overly-ripe mangoes and avocadoes sitting on the counter. As I pulled open the produce drawer, I noticed some wilting herbs, wrinkled chili peppers, sprouting onions and garlic. I began to hone in on all the potential kitchen waste to come; hardening lemons and limes, and dried out ginger and turmeric. We had been on a heavy recipe development circuit for the new Crespo Organic mango season and recipe development and testing can often lead to unused produce unless you are really vigilant about it as we try to be.
I know I needed a sauce solution and at that moment I knew that our test kitchens food waste items were the usual suspects primed for food waste in most peoples kitchens. It was my Oprah ah ha moment for sure……
I personally often plan my meals around a sauce and I can always come up with few main meals that incorporate the sauce, as well as breakfast and lunch dishes.
With RIPE mangoes as our muse in the Crespo Organic Kitchen, we came up with six sauces that are versatile and, most importantly, simple to make and integrate into everyday life using the main kitchen waste culprits in modern day kitchens. Whether or not you buy and use mangoes, the formula of using up items around your kitchen before they go bad by making a sauce is a solid one.
Click through the gallery below the Crespo Organic Kitchens 6 new sauce recipes!