Want to Get the Most Out of Your Produce? Here’s How…

This past weekend, we gathered in the garden to learn from food educator and Q Gardens co-coordinator, Sarah Carlisle. We see a whole lot of food scraps come through the garden, many of which still have a lot to give! Sarah demoed how to use your everyday kitchen scraps to make vegetable stock, fresh sauces, and vinegars. All are great ways to get the most nutrition (and other benefits) from your produce, decrease your reliance on commercial/packaged products, and save money.

Try out these recipes and let us know what you think!

Freezer Bag Veggie Stock


1 gallon bag frozen vegetable scraps

ideal proportions – ⅓ onion and garlic peels and ends, ⅓ carrot and potato peels and ends, ⅓ miscellaneous (mine is usually kale stalks, broccoli stalks, beet ends and peels, stems from thyme or rosemary or basil… I’ve also found that pea pods make for a really yummy stock!)

extra fresh garlic/onion/carrots/celery if on hand/needing to be cleared out of fridge

water to fill 6 quart pot

10 black peppercorns

1 bay leaf

fresh thyme, rosemary, oregano if on hand

[If you have a chicken carcass or any bones lying about, throw them in with the veggie scraps to make a really rich all-purpose stock!]

To make approximately 3 quarts of veggie stock, combine approximately 1 totally stuffed-full gallon bag of frozen veggie scraps, approximately 10 peppercorns, 1 bay leaf, a few cloves of garlic, a small onion, a few sad carrots and celery stalks, and as much water as will fill a 6 quart dutch oven (or whatever big pot you have).

Let that simmer for up to 5 hours, cool it, and then strain it first through a colander and then through a fine mesh sieve. Store it in 1 quart deli containers, mason jars, or freezer bags and freeze. To defrost, just submerge in hot water for about half an hour.

Citrus Cleaning Vinegar


Fill a mason jar with citrus peels (e.g., orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit peels) and cover with plain white vinegar. Close the jar and keep it in a dark place for 6 weeks. Strain the now citrus oil-infused vinegar and put the peels in the compost. Dilute (1 part water to 1 part vinegar) and put in a spray bottle. Use as multi-purpose cleaning spray!

Scrap Vinegar (for Cooking)


1 part scraps (strawberry tops and hulls, apple peels and cores, mango peels and pits, etc.)

2 parts sugar water (¼ cup sugar dissolved in 1 quart room temperature water)

Combine scraps and water in a glass jar and cover with a lid (not fully sealed) or a cloth and rubber band. Stir daily for one week.

After one week, strain out scraps and pour the liquid (at this point, it’s hooch) back into the jar. Add 1/4 – 1/2 cup of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar (or a previous batch of finished scrap vinegar) and a vinegar mother (Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar contains the mother–it’s the dark, cloudy substance that often settles to the bottom).

Cover again and let it sit for at least two weeks. Stir every other day for the first 5 days or so and then just swirl the jar to disturb the sediment without damaging the new mother, which should be forming on top.

Your vinegar is done when it smells and tastes more like vinegar than hooch. Usually this takes 2-3 weeks, but factors such as temperature and the microbiome of your home can make it take longer.

Pour and store your finished vinegar and the mother in a tightly capped jar or bottle. Remember to save a splash and keep the mother for your next batch!


Pesto/Pistou/Chimichurri/Green Sauce!


2 cups fresh leaves (packed) – Radish greens, carrot tops, purslane, spinach, arugula, basil, watercress, kale – any flavorful green or herb will do! 

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup unsalted pepitas (optional; you can sub nuts or leave out entirely)

3 garlic cloves (or a small shallot, or sub some of the 2 cups of leaves with chives)

½ teaspoon lemon juice (to make it more of sauce or chimichurri, sub at least ½ cup red wine or other vinegar)

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional; to make vegan, sub a few tablespoons nutritional yeast)

½ teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Depending on the flavor and texture of the greens that you use, you will have to adjust the amount of oil, salt, and acid (lemon juice or vinegar) to taste. If you are looking to make a marinade, make it pretty acidic and saucy. If it’s for pasta, you want it silky smooth so blending the oil in gradually is key. Sometimes I want it spicier, so I add red pepper flakes or a bit of a fresh chili pepper. Stop the blender to taste as you go!

Add the olive oil, pepitas, garlic, lemon juice, and salt to a food processor or blender. Blend until it is a thick paste, scraping sides of processor with a spatula. Add the leaves and parmesan cheese.  Blend until it’s well incorporated. Keeps about 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Freeze the leftovers!


Additional Resources


In addition to the instagram page of @zerowastechef, Sarah recommends the following books for instruction and inspiration: An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler and its predecessor of sorts, The Art of Eating by  M.F.K Fisher.

Happy Reading!

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