Cooking and the Environment

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Food Discussions' started by SatNavSaysStraightOn, Oct 11, 2017.

  1. SatNavSaysStraightOn

    SatNavSaysStraightOn (Site Owner) Staff Member

    NSW, Australia
    I hate both food waste and waste of precious environmental resources when cooking and get annoyed with both cooks and cookbooks/recipes when they state things such as
    • 'leave under running water',
    • 'rinse until the water runs clear',
    • or when cooking with certain food groups it tells you to discard portions of the veg that are perfectly edible, such as the greener parts of a leek because it will colour the food green later on (or add a green tinge to the soup).
    Am I alone in this? What do others do? Do you throw away those edible parts of your veg just because the recipe doesn't use it? Do you add it anyway and accept the slight green tinge that the green parts of leeks may add to your soup? What other annoying or wasteful instructions have you seen in recipes?
  2. Elawin

    Elawin Über Member

    If something says leave under running water, I put a bowl underneath the tap. At least then the water can be used to water plants or, if it's not mucky, tip it into a bucket and use it to wash the floor - I do that with any washing up water too, provided it's not greasy. As for rinsing things until the water runs clear, only is something really needs it. I do do this with rice, lentils and green leaves which may have grit it, but the first couple of rinses are always in my drainer bowl with a good swish round. As for food waste, I do take off outer leaves of cabbages etc and only peel root veg and hard fruit if absolutely necessary. If I can't use it up straightaway, it can always be given to the dog. As for leeks (and spring onions, for that matter), I use all of them - the green bits of leeks are often the tastiest bits anyway even if they are a bit coarser and may take a tad longer to cook.

    As for wasteful instructions, "cook the [whatever] and then drain". The number of people who will pour that liquid down the sink amazes me. That cooking water can be used as a good base for (or instead of) stock, or put in the fridge/freezer with odd bits of veg to be used later. Also, one of the best natural drinks out there is fresh, hot cabbage water with pepper in! The mutt is quite partial to veggie water in his dinner too.
  3. morning glory

    morning glory Obsessive cook Staff Member

    I wouldn't throw the green parts away but I might not use them in a specific recipe because of the visual aesthetic - especially if it is going to be photographed! It depends on the recipe. I'd make stock using the green parts rather than chuck them.
  4. Francesca

    Francesca Guest

    @SatNavSaysStraightOn & @morning glory,

    Same here .. I make stock from the veggies parts I do not use in a recipe ..

    Interesting post ..

    Have a nice evening / day ..
  5. ElizabethB

    ElizabethB Senior Member

    Lafayette, LA. US
    I have 2 4'x4' table height garden boxes on my patio for veggies and multiple pots for my herbs. I have a compost bin in the back corner of the yard.. Coffee grounds and filters, tea bags, egg shell, peelings, and all uncooked stems, leaves, cores go into the bin.

    George's mower has a bagger attachment. A couple of times a year I have him bag the grass clippings and add that to the compost bin. We used to have a beautiful live oak which gave me all of the browns I needed. Unfortunately we had to have it removed. Not really a problem. Both of my neighbors have oak trees. When the leaves fall George uses his mower to gather and mulch their leaves. Win - win. I get browns for my compost and the neighbors don't have to rake leaves.

    I just recently started freezing cooking water. It makes a great base for broths, stocks or soups.
  6. morning glory

    morning glory Obsessive cook Staff Member

    I'm beginning to feel guilty...
  7. The Late Night Gourmet

    The Late Night Gourmet Über Member

    Detroit, USA
    I do try to use as much of whatever I'm making as possible. But, I did once discard the greens from vegetables as instructed; now, they usually become a pesto. I also do adapt the instructions to what I want to do, rather than following them by rote.

    One wasteful thing in just about every recipe (including mine :whistling: ) is the direction to preheat the oven. If you've timed it just right, the oven will beep right before you finish the step to place whatever you're making in it. More often, depending on how many things are delaying your food prep, the oven stays preheated much longer than it needs to.
    Elawin and ElizabethB like this.
  8. ElizabethB

    ElizabethB Senior Member

    Lafayette, LA. US
    @morning glory

    For me cooking = gardening and gardening = composting.

    @The Late Night Gourmet

    DITTO on the preheating. My (old) electric oven takes 7 minutes to reach 350 degrees F.
  9. Elawin

    Elawin Über Member

    I very rarely bother to preheat the oven. My old fan oven instructions advised users to place the food in a cold oven set at the normal (i.e. non-fan) temperature. On average I found that foods cooked that way would take about 10 minutes longer to cook than the recipe stated, but still far less time than preheating the oven and putting the food in the oven then. Even with my new oven, I find the only things that require a preheated oven are those things which do not take long to cook (such as pizza). I do preheat the oven when making bread, as then I can put the dough on its tray on the counter top just above the oven to rise - my unheated kitchen faces north and keeps quite cool. It also gets very cold in winter.....
    Lynne Guinne and ElizabethB like this.
  10. Lynne Guinne

    Lynne Guinne Senior Member

    New England
    Technically, the only time you need to preheat is if you are using the oven for something that needs to rise. Bread, cake, muffins...they need the oven to be at temperature when the raw ingredients go in. Also, if you need to preheat the cooking vessel before putting the mixture in to bake, you need to preheat. Meats? Potatoes? Casseroles? Just stick them in, close the door, turn the oven to temp, and carry on.

    I'm so slow when I bake that I don't start preheating until I'm ready to introduce my wet ingredients into my dry, or even just as I'm ready to start filling the pan. In the case of filling my scone pan wedges, the oven can preheat in the same time I take to fill the little compartments.
  11. MrsDangermouse

    MrsDangermouse Senior Member

    Hampshire, UK
    On the oven pre-heating topic, I think it depends on a) the oven and b) what you're cooking.

    My top oven (conventional) takes ages to come to temperature, whereas my bottom oven (fan) only takes about 10 mins. If I'm going to use the top oven for anything then it definitely needs to be pre-heated otherwise the food is only gently warmed :meh:

    I rarely do casseroles in the oven as I use the slow cooker for those, and if cooking small ready-made things then I'll use the Actifry - they're much more energy efficient. So even if using the bottom oven I do pretty much always pre-heat it. For roast meats I like to get the oven really hot so the meat gets a first blast of heat before turning it down to cook. I find this way gives a nice crispy skin with the best flavour - especially for chicken or pork with crackling.

    I also pre-heat for pizza....I use a pizza stone and read somewhere about an experiment where someone varied how long the pizza stone had pre-heated for and the effect on the pizza crust. They found that heating the stone for a full hour gave the crispiest and most authentic crust, whereas only pre-heating or 45 minutes or less meant that the pizza base invariably undercooked in the middle. Since I've been pre-heating for an hour I have found that the pizzas cook much quicker and we do get fewer soggy bottoms :wink:
  12. toddhicks209

    toddhicks209 Active Member

    I'll use up as much of a vegetable as I can and only discard the remnants that wouldn't be suitable for the dish due to being too tough or stringy, etc.
  13. The Late Night Gourmet

    The Late Night Gourmet Über Member

    Detroit, USA
    I forgot about this, but you're absolutely right: you're really preheating the stone more than you're preheating the oven.
    ElizabethB likes this.
  14. morning glory

    morning glory Obsessive cook Staff Member

    My pizza stone (a very expensive French one!) got broken when my daughter somehow dropped it down the cellar stairs. I now use a pan - wish I had known about this when I had the stone!
    MrsDangermouse and ElizabethB like this.
  15. Elawin

    Elawin Über Member

    I just use a flat baking tray - the same one I use for bread. On the odd occasion I have pre-cooked the base, I just stick it on the shelf. Most pizza stones are too big for the depth of my oven, and the smaller ones I have found are too small for the size of my pizzas!
    ElizabethB and MrsDangermouse like this.

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