Make the most of your pantry provisions and reduce your weekly food waste with these tips from bestselling author, minimalist and philanthropist Sarah Wilson. In this instalment of The Helpers Series – curated by activist and changemaker Maree Lowes – you’ll learn Sarah’s top eight food hacks, plus how to make her signature Genius Garlic Paste. It’s a recipe for low-waste kitchen success!
Today’s Helper: Sarah Wilson
Bestselling author, minimalist and philanthropist
A NOTE FROM MAREE:
When you find yourself chatting with Sarah Wilson, you’re never left wondering if she’s interested in the conversation. I found this out when I first met her – a serendipitous encounter in Alice Springs the evening before she was due to start hiking the Larapinta Trail. This particular night, I couldn’t help but notice that when a topic captures Sarah’s attention, she zones in with laser precision and no stone is left unturned. Her exploration of what’s possible is always steered by her core purpose to engage humans with each other. This is why the legacy Sarah has cultivated is one of contribution, as much as it is one of prolific achievement. So while we spend 2020 watching our globalised systems crack and shift, I’ve often thought of Sarah and the ideas that she’s been championing for years. Her publisher calls her latest book Simplicious Flow “a manifesto for change, a challenge to us all to take charge of our kitchen, our expenditure, our time, our own health and the health of the planet”. Perfect for right now? Yup. So I asked Sarah to share a few of her most practical tips for this time.
Tackling food waste – Sarah Wilson
As we face further isolation over the coming weeks, knowing how to not waste a skerrick of food is a life skill you’ll want to have under your belt. I wrote my latest cookbook Simplicious Flow because I felt I had to address the stinkin’ fat elephant in the kitchen – food waste is killing the planet. In fact, if it were a country it would be the third-largest CO2 emitter on the planet.
So in the spirit of saving food from the waste heap, here are eight hacks that you can implement from today. I hope they inspire your anti-food waste creativity during social isolation!
1. Use up your jar dregs. This is a fun sport – finding ways to extract the stuck bits of a spread or condiment from the awkward angles of a jar or bottle. Here’s a good one: in your almost finished mustard jar, add 1/4 cup of olive oil and 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Shake the jar vigorously for a great salad dressing.
2. Freeze your nuts. It’s true that oils in tree nuts (and seeds) go rancid very quickly when exposed to heat, light and air, but there’s a simple solution. As soon as you get home, store them in the fridge or freezer. They’ll last 4–6 months in the fridge and 6–12 months in the freezer. They also taste better – crispier and sweeter – direct from the freezer (no need to thaw).
3. Never chuck a banana again! If they’re ripening too fast, store them in the fridge. The skins will go dark and brown, but the flesh will be perfect for a good few days. Or peel them, snap into chunks and store in yoghurt punnets or old zip-locks in the freezer to make smoothies and healthy ice-cream.
4. Ignore the best before date. The use-by date tells you when food must be eaten for health and safety reasons. The best before date gives a rough indication of when it tastes the best. Many countries have removed best-before dates. I personally ignore them. You should, too.
5. Save your bacon rind! Preheat an oven up to 220°C, place leftover bacon rinds on a wire rack over an oven tray and bake for 5 minutes until puffed and crispy. Enjoy as they are or crush them up and use in salads, wraps, or as a topping for soups. Or you can freeze the rinds to use in a stock.
6. Don’t buy coconut milk. Buy coconut cream, which is the same price per can, and dilute with water 50:50. It’ll give you twice as much!
7. Keep your coffee grounds and use them to make a face scrub. Just mix 3 teaspoons of cold coffee grounds with 2 teaspoons coconut oil. Apply in a gentle circular motion, then rinse with warm water and pat dry.
8. Make this genius garlic paste. I’ve included the recipe below as garlic is an antiviral and Australian garlic is at the end of its season right now, so it’s the perfect time to stock up.
Sarah’s Genius Garlic Paste
This recipe takes about 42 minutes to make and produces enough ready-to-scoop-with-a-spoon garlic to last 6 months – no peeling or mincing required. The benefits of this genius hack:
• We avoid having to peel and mince the garlic. Which is where the ‘genius’ bit comes in, ’cos it really is the most tedious job in a kitchen.
• It’s fermented, so you can eat it raw without belly dramas.
• And because it’s fermented, it will also keep for yonks – at least 6 months.
• One study found that fermenting garlic increased its antioxidant properties by up to 13 times.
• Plus, it’s sustainable because we make it when Australian garlic is available; the rest of the year it’s imported, mostly from China.
• Finally, it’s super convenient – ready to toss into any dish, raw or cooked.
Makes 2 cups
• 8 heads of garlic
• 2 teaspoons sea salt
• 1 lemon, rind, pith and seeds removed
Preheat the oven to 90°C (70°C fan-forced). Place the garlic heads on a baking tray and bake for 1 hour. The cloves will ‘loosen’ from their skins (some ovens may take longer, but don’t be tempted to crank up the temp!). Allow to cool a little, then simply pop the cloves from their skins, being sure not to snip off the ends at all.
Add the garlic, salt and lemon flesh to a food processor and process to a paste. Transfer to a couple of wide-mouthed jars, leaving 3–4cm from the rim – no more than this, as extra oxygen can muck with ferments. Press the paste down with the back of a spoon to remove air pockets. Weigh things down with a cabbage leaf and something heavy on top (like a large smooth pebble or a shot glass).
Leave in a cool place, with the lids placed lightly on top, on a tray (the jars might overflow with liquid) for 2–3 weeks to ferment. You may occasionally need to press down on the glass or weight to continue to release air pockets. The paste is ready when it tastes milder than raw garlic.
Seal tightly and place in the fridge. It will keep for 6 months.
The Helpers Series is a blog series inspired by a wise (and widely shared) snippet of childhood advice courtesy of Mister Rogers – “look for the helpers”. It was curated and created by activist and passionate changemaker Maree Lowes, who has rallied some of her favourite ‘helpers’ to offer up their best advice and tips for getting through these challenging times. #thehelpersseries
If you want your very own copy of Simplicious Flow with more handy tips and tricks for saving food waste, Peppermint readers get 20% off the I Quit Sugar store with the code MHW2020. Just head here to shop.
WORDS: MAREE LOWES / SARAH WILSON
ILLUSTRATIONS: EMILY EHLERS