Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

10 tips from Northern Ireland's foodies on how we can reduce our domestic food waste mountain

With supermarkets admitting to throwing out tens of thousands of tonnes of food each year, Amanda Ferguson talks to 10 experts about avoiding this at home, and one shares a tasty recipe for leftovers.

Salad leaves are often wasted because they perish so easily
Rozanne Stevens' Friday Fried Rice

Chef Nick Price is an award-winning Northern Ireland restaurateur

"Salad leaves are often wasted because they perish so easily. I had some watercress left over the other day that was not looking its best so it went into a soup. People tend to forget that with herbs like rocket and watercress, you can cook with them. Gem lettuce can be braised as a vegetable. Part of being a good cook is thinking about how you use up what is left over. In the old days, leftover Sunday roast would be turned into faggots or pies. It's good to plan ahead when you're out shopping and think of what you can reuse."

Belfast student Stephen Chisholm is a quarter finalist in the Great Irish Bake Off

"There are loads of things you can do with bread. I like making revival or Jesus bread. When bread has gone a bit stale or is on the verge of mouldy, tear it up and put it into water and soak overnight. You can incorporate it into new dough, as it's mushy. You would think it might be bland, but the flavour is incredible. Keep all your odds and ends in the freezer, take them out when needed, and make breadcrumbs, by drying them out in the oven. These can be used for stuffing and in homemade burgers."

Danny Millar of Balloo House is the patron of Love Food, Hate Waste, a DoE Rethink Waste campaign

"The campaign encourages people to appreciate food and think about where it has come from. Food is a gift people take for granted. People should be buying less. You don't need to fill your trolley or at Christmas go boogaloo buying too much. The shops are only closed for a day or so. I always get two or three meals out of chicken. I recommend buying a good one, who had a good life. You can have your chicken dinner and then use leftovers with pasta, a bit of Parmesan and butter, and of course make a soup. Chicken broth is good for you, there are no preservatives, you've made it yourself."

Joris Minne is restaurant critic and food writer for the Belfast Telegraph

"I remember chef Richard Corrigan saying his big advice was not to buy big American fridges. Big fridges encourage bulk food buying. They should really be full of Champagne and beer. The secret to not wasting food is to buy small quantities and buy local. I do what my mum used to do and buy each day. It's easy to do in modern Northern Ireland. Pick up the food for that evening and use it for dinner and the kids' lunches the next day. A simple vegetable soup can be used again as a base for fish soup. Fresh food is very versatile. Dishes like bubble and squeak, boxty and other home made dishes are all designed from leftovers. The leftover is coming back."

Chef and broadcaster Paula McIntyre from Aghadowey

"Dearbhla Reynolds runs classes at Ox restaurant teaching fermentation of vegetables and cheese making. You grate vegetables and pack them with cheese bacteria and salt. Put in jam jars, they keep for a year in the fridge. I've done it with beetroot, celeriac and carrots. Also, if I have a load of onions, I smoke them and make them into a chutney. It keeps very well and is also very tasty. I tend to shop often. When you do a big shop you tend to over-shop. Making a list is important and don't deviate. Years ago people planned the menu for the week. People need to get back to that. I use a lot of tinned beans, there is no waste with them. Just plonk them into a stew. Also pick food, I was out this morning picking elderberries."

David Gillmore is head chef at James Street South in Belfast

"The majority of vegetables and trimmings can go into soups, stews and making vegetable stock. Meat-wise, the same again. If you've had a roast dinner, use the leftovers for sandwiches, stews and soups. The freezer should not be seen as the enemy. At the restaurant, we use all our fish trimmings for fish stock so nothing is wasted. For simple soups and stews, once its broken down, what it was before is irrelevant, as long as it was edible. People are tempted to buy too much at supermarkets. Two for one is only good if you will definitely use both. Using local shops is maybe a bit more expensive, but you're not buying as much."

David Adams runs Bistro Este in Ballyhackamore

"As most chefs work with fresh produce delivered on a daily basis, we always find it strange that people would fill their fridges with produce on a weekly basis and expect it to last. The only way of cutting back on waste is to shop more often in local independent stores that put more focus on quality than any of the large chains ever will. Our parents' and grandparents' generation would never have dreamed of dumping so much produce on a weekly basis. Menu planning for the family can also help to control the amount that you purchase."

Dr Lynsey Hollywood is a lecturer in consumer studies at the University of Ulster

"The shopping stage is critical. It's very important to plan ahead. I follow shoppers as part of my research and many have a tendency to impulse buy. Try not to shop when hungry, stick to a list and only buy what you will use. We also need to raise awareness about the difference between use by and best before. Best before dates are not there to tell you not to eat something. People don't need to be afraid of them. People should learn to portion food and freeze it."

John Blisard owns Belfast restaurants Bubbacue and Boojum

"Our restaurant model is based on a small menu, with all food preparation happening as and when we need it, so we generally discard very little. The best way to avoid waste at home is to try to buy items that can be used in many dishes and plan your meals accordingly. For example, last week I bought limes, fresh coriander and chilies to add to a curry, then used the leftovers for a quick chopped tomato salsa, which we had the next day with fajitas."

South African chef and author Rozanne Stevens splits her time between Belfast and Dublin

"Reducing food waste is all in your planning. Step number one is plan your menu, meals and snacks for the week, but only for five days of the week. That gives you two days of wriggle room to use up leftovers, eat out, have a snack instead of a sit down dinner etc. Stop fooling yourself that you're going to finish that overstocked fruit bowl and salad drawer – just buying healthy foods does not magic them into your stomach. Learn to handle and store foods properly so you can extend their shelf life.

Friday Fried Rice

400g cooked white or brown rice;

4 eggs, beaten; 4 tbsp sunflower oil; 1 tbsp grated ginger or ginger paste; 6 spring onions, chopped, use white and green; 250g button mushrooms, sliced; 6 rashers, diced; 3 tbsp soy sauce; cup frozen petis pois; few drops toasted sesame oil; black pepper. Optional extras: prawns, cooked chicken, grated carrot, sliced cabbage

Heat a teaspoon of oil in a wok. Add beaten eggs and stir until well cooked, dry and broken up. Set aside in a clean bowl. Wipe the wok, heat up 3 tablespoons of oil and cook all the vegetables and meat you want to use. Add rice and soy sauce. Stir well and break up any lumps. Add peas and stir well to defrost. Once the rice is piping hot, stir through the egg and season with black pepper and sesame oil. For food safety, only reheat once.

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