15 Mar 2021

Waste not want not: how to cook with not-so-fresh food

From Nine To Noon, 11:38 am on 15 March 2021

Many of us are guilty of throwing out food from the fridge that's gone to waste - but when you add it up, Kiwis are wasting over 157,000 tonnes of food a year. 

While there’s a lot of fruit and vegetables being thrown away, bread is the top culprit at just over 15,000 tonnes a year – that's 29 million loaves wasted. New Zealanders throw out about 12,000 tonnes of leftovers every year, too. 

In her new book Waste Not Want Not, Sarah Burtscher looks at the top 10 foods we tend to waste and pairs them with yummy recipes - including Forgotten Vegetable Soup and Easter Spiced Whole Orange Cake

Although Sarah has run restaurants in Christchurch and Tekapo, she describes herself as a 'home cook'.

“I cook from the pantry, the fruit bowl and the fridge,” she tells Nine to Noon's Kathryn Ryan

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Photo: Supplied

People just don’t seem to know how to save certain foods from being inedible, Sarah says. 

“If you’ve burnt the cake just cut the top off and put the icing on the unburnt bit.” 

If bananas are your guilty throw-away item, Waste Not Want Not includes a great recipe for Banana Peel Cake, Sarah says.

“[Or] I like to peel [the banana]. You can put your peel in water and keep it for 24 hours and then feed your plants from that water – it's a really good way of using up that banana skin." 

More waste-saving tips from Sarah: Ageing potatoes can be cut up and thrown into a soup to bulk it up, the sticky remains of jam in a jar can be thrown into a smoothie, cheese scraps can go onto a pizza, butter wrappers can be saved to grease cake tins. 

Sarah's recipes:

Forgotten Vegetable Soup

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Photo: Sarah Burtscher

Easter Spiced Whole Orange Cake

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Photo: Supplied

The top food waste products in New Zealand: 

  • Bread 
  • Leftovers 
  • Oranges and mandarins  
  • Apples 
  • Bananas 
  • Potatoes 
  • Poultry  
  • Rice 
  • Lettuce 
  • Beef 

Sarah's book Waste Not Want Not will be available on bookshelves from April 10.