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Thursday, 31 May 2018

Never throw a scrap of leftover food away again: These ingenious tips show how everything can be put to good use

British households now throw away five million tonnes of good food a year, worth around £15 billion, the official Waste and Resources Action Programme announced last week. 
As supermarkets such as Tesco plan to ditch ‘use by’ dates on many products, and pressure grows to stop wasting food, follow our A-Z to find out how you can cut down on waste, slash shopping bills and make your groceries go further.
A is for Avocados after sun
Old avocados make an effective treatment for sunburn. Containing protective antioxidants, including plant phenols, flavonoids and carotenoids, avocado can help repair skin and may protect against DNA damage.
Just rub the inside of the skin over any areas of sunburn. Leave the avocado on for an hour or so before rinsing away with lukewarm water.  
B is for bring stale bread back from the brink  
Bread is the most wasted food product in the UK, surveys show. But stale crusty bread can be revived by running it under the cold tap, then popping it in a hot oven — around 180c — for six to 12 minutes. The heat and steam turns starch in the crust into a gel, which dries to a glossy, crisp crust. The stale interior will also release moisture, for a softer texture.
C is for cook up a compote
Cupboards full of rock-hard dried fruit? It’s the perfect base for a compote, says cookery writer Danielle Svetcov. Chop fruit into a saucepan, then cover with water. Add orange peel, a tablespoon of sherry, and simmer for 20 minutes, until syrupy. Store in the fridge and use within two weeks.  
D is for disinfect your chopping board with old lemons
Use old lemons to clean and disinfect chopping boards. Sprinkle the surface of the board with a little salt, then rub firmly with the cut side of half a lemon to remove stains. The citric acid has a bleaching effect and will also banish lingering smells.
E is for extend eggs' shelf life
If your eggs are nearing their best-before date, freeze them! Egg expands when frozen, so to avoid burst shells, break your eggs, beat them and freeze in a sealed container. They can stay in there for up to six months. 
You can freeze yolks or whites separately in the same way. The Oxo Good Grips 3-in-1 Egg Separator (£5, from johnlewis.com) will help you do this neatly. When freezing the yolks, mix in half a teaspoon of salt per 240ml raw egg yolk to stop it turning into an inedible gel during the freezing process. 
F is for freeze your fromage
If soft cheeses develop mould, throw them out — harmful bacteria could be growing. But hard cheeses such as cheddar or red Leicester can be rescued. Just trim off the mould, then grate the rest to add to food.
You can also freeze hard cheeses for up to six months — although they’ll be crumbly after defrosting, so will be best used in cooking.
G is for get crunchier biscuits
Rejuvenate your biscuits and crisps by spreading them on a baking sheet and giving them five minutes in a 180c oven. This removes humidity and restores the cr 
H is for home-made oil
Fresh herbs can be expensive, so put leftovers to good use. Flavoured oils can be used in salads, to dip bread in, or to cook with. Chop the herbs, drop them in 200ml bland vegetable oil and gently warm on the stove for five minutes. Once the oil has cooled, sieve out the herbs, bottle and keep in the fridge for up to two months. 
I is for iceberg smoothie anyone?
Iceberg lettuce may taste bland, but its mild flavour and long shelf life makes it a very versatile ingredient. Ninety-six per cent water, and low in sugars and calories, wilting leaves are ideal for hydrating smoothies. Old lettuce can also be turned into soup by chopping it up, adding a few handfuls of frozen peas, onion, garlic and chicken stock, simmering for ten minutes and blending. 
J is for jam jar marinade
Do you have a larder filled with jars with tiny bits of jam in the bottom? Use them to create a marinade. Add an equal quantity of balsamic vinegar to any berry jam, finely chopped garlic, then shake to create a marinade for steak. Add apple cider vinegar and cardamom to apricot jam for pork. 
K is for kale conditioner
Packed with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients, a kale scalp mask will help boost hair growth, says New York hairdresser Lisa Lobosco.
Blend four past-their-best, washed kale leaves, the juice of a lemon and a teaspoon of olive oil into a paste.
Rub into the scalp and leave for 20 minutes.
L is for leftover lollipops
Exotic fruits that are fiddly to prepare, such as mango and pineapple, often end up rotting in the bowl. If you have fruit that’s a little past its best, puree in a blender and freeze the pulp in lollipop moulds to make snacks for kids. Also works with peaches and apricots. 
M is for make a white whine syrup
You can freeze vinegary leftover wine in cubes and use it enhance your cooking — or turn it into a syrup. Stir one part sugar into three parts wine, add a cinnamon stick, star anise or vanilla pod, and simmer until reduced by two-thirds. Pour over ice cream and stewed fruit, or add to marinades or salad dressing. 
N is for no more dirty marks
Stale white bread has a multitude of uses. Scrunch a slice into a ball and use it to buff away scuffs, dirty marks and fingerprints on painted walls and wallpaper. You can also use a slice to mop up fine shards of broken glass — just wipe over to pick it up. 
O is for over-ripe apples
We throw away 4.4 million apples a day in the UK — but instead of chucking bruised apples, cut up and pop a slice in your cake tin. The moisture will prevent baked goods from going stale. 
P is for pep-up potatoes
We bin nearly half of the potatoes we buy. To extend their shelf life, store them in a breathable potato bag with blackout lining, such as the Potato Preserving Bag (£4.59, from lakeland. co.uk). Potatoes also freeze well if they are blanched in boiling water. 
Q is for quinoa brownies
Use leftover quinoa to make brownies. Cookery writer Gunjan Dudani says blitz 340g pitted dates, 40g desiccated coconut and 1 tbsp coca powder to form a dough. Mix 340g cooked quinoa, 1 tsp maple syrup and salt — then stir into the dough. Add 150g melted dark chocolate, press into a greased pan, sprinkle with coconut and put in freezer for 15 minutes. 
R is for roast your grapes
Toss past-their-best, wrinkly grapes in olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for 20-30 minutes until sugars caramelise and skins blister. Roasted grapes — served hot or cold — will make a great accompaniment for cold meats, and can also be served with salads, cheese or poured over vanilla ice cream. 
S is for sour milk shells
If milk is sour but not curdled (once milk starts to separate and curdle it needs to be poured away) you can still use it. Milk turns sour when the harmless bacteria found in dairy products start to convert natural sugars into lactic acid. Used instead of fresh milk in scones or pancakes, the acid in sour milk reacts with the raising agents in these recipes to produce large amounts of carbon dioxide and a fluffy rise. 
T is for tomato polish
The citric acid in your dried up tomato ketchup or week-old leftover tomato pasta sauce will eat through dirt and tarnish on copper pots and pans. Just apply the tomato paste with a cloth, and scrub until the shine is restored. 
U is for umami paste
Leftovers with strong flavours such as parmesan rind, old anchovies or dried-up garlic can be rescued by combining them to make an ‘umami’ paste. This has lots of potential uses — stir a teaspoon into bolognese sauce, stew or an oriental dish for a rich flavour.
Blend one tablespoon each of tomato paste, anchovy paste and soy sauce with two tablespoons each of grated parmesan rind and olive oil, a couple of minced garlic cloves, a handful of mushrooms and a dash of chilli.  
V is for veggie peel fritters
When you peel vegetables, you’re removing the most nutritious part.
Try making fritters. Carrot, parsnip, sweet potato and courgette peelings, and sliced cauliflower or broccoli stalks, work well. Mix with a beaten egg, a tablespoon of flour, minced garlic clove, a teaspoon of mixed herbs, and a handful of parmesan. Fry spoonfuls of mixture in hot oil until both sides are crispy.
W is for walnuts to revive furniture
Treat scratches on wooden furniture by snapping an old walnut kernel in half, and firmly rubbing the exposed edge of the nut over the mark. The oil from the nut should fade the scratch.
The flavour of any stale nuts can be refreshed by giving them a quick blast in the microwave for 60 to 90 seconds.
X is for x-tra sharp blades  
Past-its-best uncooked rice can be really handy. Pouring half a cup into your blender and blitzing it for a minute will sharpen the blades. To remove limescale and tide marks from an awkward-shaped glass vase, add a handful of dry rice to soapy water and swill around.
Y is for youthful skin with yoghurt
Got a spare pot of ancient yoghurt sitting at the back of your fridge? For radiant skin, try applying a natural yoghurt masque. Paint the yoghurt over the skin and leave to set for 20 minutes before rinsing with cool water. The combination of lactic acid and fats in the yoghurt will help to loosen flaky skin cells and soften fine lines. 
Z is for zesty fire lighters
Got a spare pot of ancient yoghurt sitting at the back of your fridge? For radiant skin, try applying a natural yoghurt masque. Paint the yoghurt over the skin and leave to set for 20 minutes before rinsing with cool water. The combination of lactic acid and fats in the yoghurt will help to loosen flaky skin cells and soften fine lines. 

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