Waste Not, Want Not

This recession just shows no sign of ending. I know technically the economy is recovering but to many of us it doesn’t feel that way. Prices only go one way, up and incomes are static at best. The growth in food banks and people depending on them is proof of this.

We’re very lucky, we manage to live on our income but that means we don’t have a lot of slack and have to make the most of things. Sometimes it’s hard to know where saving things that may have another use stops and becoming a hoarder and ending up on a TV program ends. I’m sad enough to come back from a recycling centre with more than I took there!

It always made me smile on the allotment when the rubbish skip came. On the first day people loaded the skip with their unwanted junk, old plant pots, pieces of wood and metal, you name it.

On the second day along came more plotholders who’d start tatting the skip and heading back to their plots bearing old plant pots, pieces of wood and metal and what to others was unwanted junk.

It strikes me that allotment sites could benefit from recycling point and save the bother of getting a skip. I really should remind you that stuff thrown away in a skip is not actually free for the taking, ask the owner. I’ve never been refused but it’s their rubbish.

Saving on Food

One area we really save on is food. If statistics are to be believed, then nearly a quarter of food bought from the shops ends up in the bin. Sometimes it doesn’t even get unwrapped! Maybe it’s our age, but we feel it’s positively sinful, not to mention stupid to waste food.

We had some calabrese the other day, one of my favourite vegetables. When you harvest calabrese, don’t uproot the stem but leave it in the ground, More often than not you’ll get a second flush of spears in a couple of weeks and a free portion for the plate.

It’s true that the stems below the spears are tough and often end up in the compost bin but they’re actually full of flavour and ideal for soup. Now, after Christmas, the supermarkets often find themselves with lots of goodies left over which they discount to clear before their use-by date.

So last year we loaded up with, amongst other things, a load of stilton cheese reduced to less than a quarter price and it’s sitting in the freezer. A load of double cream reduced later in the year was transformed into butter (see making your own butter) which can be frozen along with a lot of buttermilk.

So, from the stems that many would throw away, 50p worth of stilton cheese and some frozen buttermilk we’ve ended up enough soup to provide 4 meals at a cost of perhaps 75p.

Exactly the same applies with cauliflowers, the woodier stems make a great soup and can be mixed with broccoli or calabrese. If you use Stilton in soup or any cooking for that matter, use the rind as well.

Incidentally, when buying cheddar cheese it’s worth paying a little extra for a strong flavour. You can get away with using less in cooking and still enjoy the flavour.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
4 comments on “Waste Not, Want Not
  1. Andy Mahoney says:

    Hi John, I hate waste, I was always brought up to clear my plate. What we don’t finish ( Providing is is suitable) make a treat for our 2 little Shih-Tzu Dogs and what is not healthy for the dogs go to the Chickens and what they don’t eat goes to the compost bin!

    I seem to remember reading that once an item is placed in a skip it actually belongs to the skip providers by law??????????

    Keep up the great work

  2. Brian King says:

    We have a recycling point on our site. There is a bench next to a boundary fence near the car park. Plot holders leave unwanted items on or around the bench … excess crops, plants, consumables, plant pots, tools, sheets of plastic, etc etc.

    If anything does not go within a reasonable length of time it is the donor’s responsibility to remove it.

    After one plot holder who had no relatives passed away we cleared his plot. He was a great hoarder and even had unused tools, including 3 brand new digging forks! It all went to the bench. The area looked like a chandler’s shop. Even though it was January and there was snow on the ground 90%+ had gone within days.

  3. Louise says:

    I’d not thought of using woody stems for soup, that’s a great idea, thanks. I agree about the cheese too. a small price of a good cheese is much more satisfying than a larger piece of ‘plastic’ cheese

  4. Hi
    i also find that using free cycle site for your area is very useful. in the last few weeks managed to pick up water butt and a compost bin.

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