Environment-friendly Kitchen Practices: Part I

Digiatal art of the team at Kitchen Rings wearing T-shirts saying they care for the Earth

In this part of the 3Rs in the kitchen series, you can see how giving a twist to a process, or a seemingly useless item in your kitchen, will make it useful.

Part I: How to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle—By-Products of Food

While making food, we often discard things we do not realise have value to them. Here is a list that can reduce the burden on Earth’s resources as well as respect farmers who toil for us.

1. Water in which noodles were boiled

You must have followed recipes that call for boiling 5 to 10 cups of water (for making macaroni, noodles etc) This hot liquid is often just drained off into the sink. What a waste! And indeed, how thoughtless!

Apply the 3Rs! Don’t discard it! Instead, pour it into a saucepan and reuse it to

  • Make soup—Remember, the water is hot, it has the salt and oil in it—just add your soup mixture, pop in a few chopped and stir-fried vegetables and voila, you have a bonus soup!
  • Boil eggs—pop the eggs in the water with the help of a spoon. Boil for 10 minutes. Now take out the eggs and plunge them into cold water. Your boiled eggs are ready for immediate use. Or use it for the next morning. It will be a super start to your busy day. (Try serving these eggs with a dash of salt and pepper, a bit of mayo and fresh salad leaves, with some hot rolls).
  • Clean oily pots—Add some dish-washing fluid to it and use it to soak your oily pots in it. The hot water will aid in cutting the grease away and they will sparkle when you clean them.

2. Malai (Cream) from boiled milk

You do know that milk that is delivered home or bought in pouches from dairies has to be simmered for at least 5 minutes after it reaches the boiling temperature. It is then cooled and refrigerated as soon as possible, especially in a country like India.

This boiled and cooled milk will develop a skin of cream or malai on it. If you are like my Dad, you’d swipe this right off and eat it with gusto. However, if you are like me, you dislike the very look of it!

But I do know that this cream is rich with nutrients that can be used in baking or Indian sweets. Trust me, it is delicious and you will enjoy it in this new avatar! Apply 3Rs!

Box showing frozen cream
Cream can be stored in the freezer

So what you need to do is to skim off the fat or malai into a steel box every day and store this in the freezer.

And the day before you want to use it for making muffins for your breakfast, you just need to defrost this cream and use it in place of butter or oil! It can be also used to make some great gajar halwa. Or, beaten lightly with a fork and added to gravies.

(The very industrious ones make butter out of this and convert that into ghee…I’ll cover that in another post—the smell of that homemade stuff is out-of-this-world )

3. Overripe bananas

Two over ripe bananas
Overripe Bananas? Don’t chuck them!

Technically not a by-product! So you bought bananas and forgot to eat them. And now you are faced with bananas that are starting to look and smell overripe. What do you do?
Apply 3Rs! Don’t throw them out! You can simply peel, mash and

  • use them in pancakes or banana bread or muffins
  • add it to a thepla that can be taken along on a journey
  • box them in the freezer until you need them for a recipe

4. Leftover bread

Use any leftover bread or the discarded edge of sandwiches. Simply store them in the freezer, firmly wrapped in the original plastic cover, till you need them. Choose any from the ones listed below to apply the 3Rs!

  • Cut into cubes and made into bread upma
  • Give it a blitz in the food processor to get bread crumbs. Dry them on low setting in the oven and store in airtight boxes. You can try adding special flavours to the crumbs by mixing in some lemon zest or garlic/ onion powder and/or pepper. Use these crumbs for coating cutlets and sprinkling on casseroles.
  • Use it to make bread pudding after lightly toasting and buttering them.

5. Whey from paneer and hung curd

Paneer is collected in a clean cloth and the whey is left behind
The whey is more nutritious than the paneer!

Indian food uses paneer in various forms. Follow these simple steps to make homemade paneer if you don’t already do so.

Similarly, foods require hung curds or thick yoghurt. In both these cases,
you use up the main ingredient, the “hero” (paneer or thick hung curds) happily.

But coming to the point about the greenish whey. I simply groan when I see people draining the nutrient-rich liquid down the drain. It contains more health than the “hero” itself! So apply 3Rs!

You can use whey instead of water in many recipes.

  • Knead the flour with whey to make roti/ bread dough.
  • When making daal of any kind, substitute water for this liquid.
  • Add to any gravy, vegetarian or non-vegetarian.

How many of these are you already following in your home? Let us learn from each other! Do share tips from your kitchen.

The next two parts are also up on the blog. Let’s try and do what we can do about kitchen waste conservation.

Part II: How to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle—Raw materials from food

Part III: How to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle—Other kitchen wastes

Let’s get going!



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