FOOD

Jamie Oliver's Food Waste Tips Will Make Your Cooking Even Better

Bloody brilliant.

10/05/2017 6:38 PM AEST | Updated 10/05/2017 6:38 PM AEST

Food waste isn't exactly a 'sexy' topic like brownies or doughnuts, but it's an incredibly important one -- and it's not going away.

Australians waste millions of tonnes of perfectly edible food each year. For an idea of what that looks like, every week we throw out one in five bags of food shopping. That adds up to approximately $1,000 wasted per year.

So, what do we do?

Being food waste wise doesn't mean you have to grow your own veg or start a communal compost. Everyone has the ability to drastically reduce food waste in the home, and Jamie Oliver can show you how.

In fact, these food waste tips will actually make your cooking taste even better. Seriously.

The most powerful weapon in the fight against food waste is the knowledge of cooking. It's our best friend.

"Let's just be really honest, food waste shouldn't really be a subject," Jamie Oliver told reporters at Woolworths' food waste event.

"Adapting recipes, knowing your way around a supermarket, market and your own kitchen and fridge is the key. If you look at all the recipes from the beginning of time, they've always been developed to adapt to what's available.

"The most powerful weapon in the fight against food waste -- and diet-related disease and maintaining culture -- is the knowledge of cooking. It's our best friend. It's the knowledge of cooking (that everyone used to have) which helps, and we need to get back to that."

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Here are Jamie Oliver's eight tips for reducing food waste in the home.

"These are some of the things I do at home to use up random bits and pieces -- other than curries, soups and stews, where I can just clear out my fridge."

1. Cook nose to tail

Walk into the meat section of the supermarket and you'll see perfect packages of prime cut meat. It's not something shoppers often think of, but where's the rest of the cow/pig/lamb?

"If everyone's buying the steaks and the prime cuts, what do you do with all the 'second-class' cuts? Stew, mince, make stocks," Oliver said.

2. Pickle veggies

Floppy carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and radishes don't need to end up in the bin.

"I love picking vegetables. I've always got big jars of pickled veggies on the go," Oliver said.

"You can spice them. I just lightly sweeten the vinegar, hit it with salt and steep whatever I want. That's a real gift. You can use them to brighten up stews and curries towards the end of cooking, or for sandwiches."

Don't know where to start? Here are 10 foods you should definitely try pickling.

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If life gives you veggies, make pickles.

3. Give stale bread a second life

If bread is a food which always ends up stale and sad in your house, instead of throwing it out, it's time to give it another (delicious) life.

"Stale bread is one of the most important parts of old school British and Italian cooking. But we just chuck that stuff out like you wouldn't believe," Oliver said.

"Stale bread and bread crumbs are your best friend -- whether it's getting whizzed up, put in the freezer, dried or kept in a jar. Happy days. You can use it in desserts and sauces, and make pangritata (fried breadcrumbs) to put over salads, stews and pasta. It's delicious."

4. Infuse vinegar with leftover ingredients

"I'm nuts about vinegar, it's one of the most underrated parts of the pantry. Just throw stuff in there [to infuse] -- herbs like thyme, fruit and spices. Have different scented vinegars for different meals and different jobs," Oliver said.

"I don't just use vinegar for dressings and marinades, I use it as part of my balancing when cooking. When I'm cooking anything I'll have a taste -- salt, pepper, fresh herbs and vinegar is always in that story.

"[For instance] a lovely dark stew with some strawberry vinegar at the end is brilliant. It just lifts it up a little bit."

Barrett & MacKay
Along with vinegar, go ahead and infuse olive oil too.

5. Embrace 'frumpy' veggies

Often times we let 'frumpy' veggies like carrots and cabbage go off in the fridge because we don't know how to make them interesting. But Oliver has one easy solution: make slaw. It's the perfect side for main meals and it couldn't be easier (or cheaper) to make.

"Slaw is a great little mechanism for waste. I really love the idea that you can create something utterly beautiful out of 'frumpy' veggies like cabbage and carrot. Pretty much always I've got some salad or salsa happening in the story. It's about adding brightness and 'ping'," Oliver said.

The key is to cut the vegetables in different shapes to add texture and flavour.

"The minute you cut different, it tastes different. However you do it, do it your way. There's no right or wrong.

"If you're going to buy a mandolin, spend a bit more and get a stainless steel one. You'll have it for life. If you haven't got that, use a trusty box grater, speed peeler or julienne peeler. However you do it, turning big, chunky, frumpy veg into something that's beautiful and delicate is the joy of cooking."

Westend61 via Getty Images
On the next burger night, make a fresh slaw for the side.

6. Don't peel veg

"After so many years of cooking, I realised that the most tasty part of these veggies is the skin," Oliver said.

"I spent a whole career peeling and then one time, we slow roasted and confited this whole celeriac. We were eating it and I got to the skin and it was ridiculous, insanely delicious. The flavour is in the skin. It's the same with carrots and beets. Unless there's a reason to, I just wash and scrub my veggies now."

If you've ever roasted veggies in the oven with skin on, you'll know the difference in taste.

"Just try it with skin on and skin off, and you'll taste the difference. It's pretty phenomenal."

7. Infuse water with leftover ingredients

Infusing plain water with fruit, herbs and spices has a two-pronged effect -- not only do you make water taste 100 times better, but you give ingredients (like a squeezed lemon or leftover mint) a new life.

"A great way to embellish water and give it a little edge is to add anything leftover -- rosemary, lemon, mint, cloves -- and it just takes it up a little notch."

Getty Images/iStockphoto
Roasting veggies with the skin on adds texture and depth of flavour.

8. Welcome ripe fruit

Many of us throw out slightly bruised apples and bananas as soon as they're spotty, but there are easy ways to use overripe, still-delicious produce.

"Peel, core and cook apples low and slow, with a squeeze of fresh orange juice and a splash of water, until soft and nicely stewed. Then enjoy with yoghurt or granola, or freeze to use in smoothies," Oliver said.

"Mash up super-ripe avocado with chopped spring onions, as much fresh chilli as you dare and a squeeze of lime for a super quick guacamole.

"Peel, slice and arrange bananas on a baking tray, then dry out in a very low oven. Once cool, pop in a jar and they'll be great for snacking on or scattering over your morning porridge."

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