As much as we all endeavour to eat more fresh fruit and veg, there's always something at the bottom of the fruit bowl or salad drawer that starts to get a little funky before we get round to eating it...
To help you avoid throwing your fresh produce away, we've come up with some super handy tips and tricks to use up your perishables before they go past the point of no return.
From dreamy dressings to reviving lettuce leaves, check out our favourite hacks below.
Infuse your own oils
You know all those fancy herb and spice-infused oils you see on the shelves in delis? Well, it’s actually easy – and a lot less expensive – to make small batches of your own with leftover produce.
There are two ways to infuse oils. ‘Cold infusion’ works well with milder herbs like coriander and parsley. Blitz in a processor, then mix with the oil. Refrigerate for a day, then strain and transfer to sterilised bottles. Keep in the fridge and use within 10 days.
‘Hot infusion’ is best for more robust ingredients, such as the woody herbs rosemary and thyme, sliced or dried chillies or whole garlic cloves. Heat the oil on a low setting until it’s bubbling gently, then remove from the heat, add the flavourings and leave to cool in a covered container. Chill in the fridge for one day, then strain and bottle. Keep refrigerated for up to a week.
All these flavour-packed oils are wonderful in salad dressings, drizzled over soup or pasta, or as a dip with sourdough bread. What's more, a bottle of homemade infused oil makes a thoughtful pressie – just tie a ribbon round it!
Flavour fest: Try cold-infused mint and lemongrass or lemon zest and thyme; or hot-infused chillies, garlic and orange zest. Then invent your own combos – the sky’s the limit!
Make herbs last longer
It’s so easy to buy fresh herbs for a specific dish then leave half a packet withering at the bottom of the fridge or wilting in a pot on your kitchen windowsill. But it’s a shame to let them go to waste, especially at this time of year when they are so abundant.
Rather than leaving herbs hanging around, you can freeze them in an airtight bag while they are still bright and green, then bring them out again when they’re needed.
Any leftover hardier herbs, such as rosemary, sage, thyme and oregano, can also be frozen in oil. This method reduces the risk of browning and freezer burn. Fill an ice cube tray with chopped herbs mixed with enough olive oil to form a paste, then freeze. This is a great way to have herbs on hand for stews, roasts, soups and potato dishes.
Flavour fest: Why not try herb butters? Mix finely chopped herbs into soft butter then use baking paper to roll the mixture into a log shape. Store in an airtight container in the freezer. Cut into slices straight from the freezer and melt directly on everything from fish, rice and mashed potatoes to steaks, steamed veg and sizzling prawns.
Basil is the prince of pesto ingredients, but you can also make it with any leftover coriander, mint or parsley – or with sun-dried tomatoes for a red pesto.
Blitz herbs in a food processor with pine nuts (or any unsalted nuts), Parmesan, oil and garlic until smooth, then season with pepper. Use immediately or freeze for up to three months. Try it on roast chicken, or dollop on pasta or sautéed veggies.
Revive your salad
We Brits throw away 19% of the food and drink we buy each year according to wrap.org.uk – and salad is one of the main casualties when it comes to waste.
Fridges notoriously remove the moisture that salad needs to stay fresh. To bring leaves back to life, simply submerge them in a bowl of iced water. They should gradually float to the top and look refreshed and bright green.
Whip up a DIY pickle
A cool, tangy pickle straight from the fridge is one of the delights of summer. You can use all sorts of leftover veg that would otherwise be destined for the dump.
For a superfast pickle, thinly slice and toss radishes, cucumbers or carrot ribbons in a mixture of equal parts salt and sugar. Allow to stand for 10 minutes, drain any liquid, then serve immediately in sandwiches and salads, as crudités or as a garnish for fried rice and stir-fries.
Ideal for long-term pickling, briny pickle needs a little more prep and mellows the flavour of veg while softening it.
Whisk 300ml vinegar, 3tbsp sugar, 1tsp peppercorns and 1tsp salt in a small pan over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Cover and bring to a boil. Pack veg, such as small or sliced onions, broccoli florets or trimmed green beans, into a sterilised jar. Pour over the hot vinegar, put the lid on and cool. Store for at least a week to allow the veg to pickle. This will keep for up to six months unopened, or up to two months in the fridge once opened. Serve with cured meats, such as ham, on top of avocado toast, tacos or burgers, or with roast pork.
zhuzh up your ice cubes
To make, fill an ice cube tray with leftover fruits – summer berries and citrus slices all work well. Then add filtered water and freeze. As the cubes melt, your drink is infused with the flavour of the fruit – and you can nibble on it, too!
save those egg yolks
The weeks leading up to Wimbledon are the time for meringues, strawberries and cream, but don't go throwing those leftover yolks in the bin. Instead, why no try using them to make a speedy weeknight carbonara, or an ultra decadent crème brûlée? Both recipes call for separated yolks and no egg whites, perfect for using up your meringue recipe discards.
Flavour fest: Not much of a pancetta fan? Miguel Barclay's smoked Mackerel and kale carbonara is just as smoky, savoury and delicious as a regular carbonara without the bacon bits.
Make your own stock
Vegetable offcuts, such as carrot and potato peelings, celery tops and broccoli stalks, don’t have to be binned – they can be used to make a fantastic, flavourful veggie stock.
Put them in a large stockpot, then add cold water, any herbs you have to hand and some peppercorns. Simmer for at least 1 hr, then strain and season. This stock can be frozen in plastic containers or ice cube trays for up to six months.