How to Revive Everything from Stale Bread and Crackers to Wilted Greens
It happens to all of us. Accidental food waste. We get overly ambitious in the produce section or at the farmers market, and then find ourselves in possession of wilted, sad, limp fruits and veggies that go past their prime faster than we can consume them. We go to the local artisanal baker hungry and can't decide between all the pretty offerings leaving us with two or three partially used loaves and not nearly enough need for bread pudding or croutons. Every member of the family opens a different bag or box of snacks and now they are all staling quickly. The door of the fridge is filled with jars and bottles with a tablespoon or less of product in the bottoms, languishing while we wait for a rare recipe that calls for half a squirt of barbecue sauce or a teaspoon of stone ground mustard.
But as long as you aren't dealing with a mold situation, a lot of these sad almost-done-for products can actually be revived! Here are 5 tips and tricks for helping to reduce your food waste.
How to revive stale bread
Whole or partial loaves of unsliced bread can be revived by simply running the crust side under the tap, avoiding the cut side, and then baking right on the rack of a 350° oven for 10-15 minutes. This process can be repeated daily with no ill effects, helping you get every last slice out of those wonderful breads, especially great if you have been going down the sourdough rabbit hole at home.
How to re-crisp chips, crackers, and crispy snacks
Spread out in a single layer on a sheet pan, mist lightly with water or flick a little water on top with your fingers and bake in a 350° oven for 6-10 minutes. Let cool, and they should have re-crisped!
How to bring wilting vegetables and herbs back to life
Did your chard start to wilt before you made it home from the market? Is the basil flagging days before pasta night? Fill a glass or small vase with cold water, trim a half inch off the stems, and pop them into the glass, then put the whole thing in the fridge. They should come back to life in a few hours.
How to refresh whole vegetables
Carrots, celery, beets, radishes, asparagus, broccoli, cucumbers, zucchini, heads of romaine or cabbage: If they have started to go a bit wobbly, trim a bit off the stem ends and submerge whole in a bowl of ice water for 15 minutes to an hour to revive them. Then dry well and store regularly; you should be able to use them within a day or so.
How to use the last bit of any condiment
Pretty much any bottle or jar with a little in the bottom can become an easy salad dressing. Add 1 part vinegar or citrus juice to three parts oil to the jar or bottle, season to taste with salt and pepper, and shake. Whether it is mustard, jam, honey, or something extra special like black garlic ketchup or mango chutney, the condiment will provide the flavor and special oomph, and no waste!