Being Zero waste is not easy! As we live in an era of consumption, over packaged products and ready-to-eat food, we have lost touch with home-made and ancestral methods of conservation. However, we lived for a long time without a fridge, and we spent a lot less!
Fermentation is an ally of choice in the fight against food waste because it helps to preserve the freshness of our food while exalting the flavors and multiplying the health benefits.
Moreover, fermentation opens up a whole range of opportunities to make our way of life more sustainable: we learn to cook at home, we promote the circular economy, we fight against food waste ...
Want to know more? Here are 8 ways to reduce our waste with fermentation!
1. Extend the life of your vegetables
Tired of losing your vegetables left a little too long in the fridge? Learn how to ferment them! Vegetable fermentation (also known as lactofermentation) can keep vegetables fresh for months, or years at room temperature. In addition, vitamins and minerals are preserved, and even tenfold by the action of bacteria. As a bonus, foods develop new flavors, as nuanced as they are delicious. Fermentation makes it possible to have healthy vegetables all year long!
Most vegetables can be fermented, even those slightly withered or damaged. Just remove the excessively bumped parts and put the remaining in the jar. Even herbs, known for their fragility, keep all their freshness once fermented. Never again a bouquet of basil nearly dead in the back of the fridge!
Eat local vegetables all year long is possible! In doing so, we avoid tons of packaging and greenhouse gases related to the transport of food.
2. Extend the life of your fruits
Would you like to enjoy the taste of freshly harvested berry all year long? Shrub is the solution! A shrub is a cold-infused syrup made with vinegar, sugar and fruits (more or less equal parts). After a few weeks of fermentation, we obtain a slightly sour syrup, full of summer flavors. It's delicious in a cocktail, useful at flavoring kombucha and terribly good with ice cream.
Traditionally, alcohol was also used to preserve fruit. Before the era of refrigerators, transforming apple juice into hard cider was common to preserve the nutrients and flavors.
It is also possible to keep valuable flavor of our favorite fruits by incorporating them into fermented beverages such as kombucha or water kefir.
And in the same vein, there is the preservation of fruit in brandy and sugar, to create an Old boys jam. New fruits are added as the season progresses. The result is a mixture of alcoholic fruits, certainly, but who have kept their nutrients and their flavors. This concoction keeps years on the counter. To consume with moderation... and pleasure!
3. Do not discard your fruits peels
Do you know Tepache? It is a sparkling beverage made from pineapple peels. Pineapple peel is naturally covered with a multitude of yeasts and wild bacteria. Once in a favorable condition, microorganisms reproduce and digest the sugars present in the fruit to create a refreshing, effervescent and nuanced drink.
For apple and pear peels, simply put them in the water and wait a few months to end up with apple cider vinegar or pears. Ginger peels, on the other hand, are known to contain many yeasts. They are useful to give a boost of fizz to your kombucha or to create ginger bug.
Even watermelon bark can be fermented. Like cucumbers, just put in brine and wait a few days: a fresh pickle, crisp and surprising!
4. Reuse your containers
Recycle is good. Give a second life, it's even better! No need to buy a bunch of expensive equipment to get you to the fermentation: go hunting for jars from your recycling bin! For lactofermentations, a simple glass jar is enough, whether it was used to contain spaghetti sauce or jam. You can also keep shooter glasses, espresso cups and even empty capsules as a weight to keep fermentating vegetables under their brine.
Remember to keep your glass bottles to fill them later with your kombucha, kefir and other fermented drinks. Even the bottles of salad dressings can experience a new life by hosting your spicy condiments and sauces. These solutions are appreciated, especially as we know that glass recycling remains a challenge in many places around the world. By reusing your jars, you know exactly what they are getting!
5. Create direct connections from the farm to the table
Looking for your next vegetable for your fermentations? Take a ride to the nearest public market! Most producers offer vegetables without packaging. Less waste, less intermediaries, less transport pollution... We like that !!! Also prefer the purchase of organic vegetables to encourage sustainable agriculture.
Buy local is not limited to vegetables. If you visit your family beekeeper, you will be able to make yourself garlic fermented honey, mead, or jun (honey kombucha). The next time you go to apples, take some unfiltered organic juice to make your own cider. And when you pass by a market gardening kiosk, grab a crate of berries for your next schrub!
In addition, almost all of the ingredients needed for fermentation can be found in grocery stores or bulk buying groups. For example, you can feed your fruit kefir with organic cane sugar, sourdough with whole wheat flour, kombucha with loose tea, and so on. This is an opportunity to create links with local businesses and producers, and reduce waste!
6. Create your own foods
When you start the zero waste lifestyle, you often feel helpless in front of tons of packaging at the grocery store. A good way to escape overpacking is to cook some of your food yourself. Fermentation makes it possible to reclaim so many things!
Did you know that condiments are surprisingly easy to make? Ketchups, relishes, mustards, hot sauces and fermented chutneys will make you forget about commercial condiments. Addicted to sparkling drinks? Learn how to make your kombucha, water kefir, kvass or homemade tepache! You can also make your own cheese or nuts cheeze with a minimum of effort. For the more adventurous, introduce yourself to making mead or sourdough. With a little knowledge, we can produce fresh, tasty and healthy food ... without waste!
7. Preserve your meat, and your fish
Meat and fish are commodity that have long been a problem for their long-term conservation. Traditionally, meat is allowed to age in a process called hanging. This term comes from the animal which was hooked in a tree until its head came off: it was then considered perfect, and it was served as a delicacy. Enjoy!
Although you are not advised to leave a piece of steak on the counter, there are more common and accessible techniques that use microorganisms to preserve meat. For example, cold cuts such as sausages have a true microbial ecology that protects and preserves meat against pathogenic bacteria. Corned beef is also a piece of fermented meat in brine for a few weeks.
However, care must be taken: without good precautions, there is a higher risk of intoxication than with vegetable fermentations. If you still want to experiment with microorganisms, turn to miso or koji. These two cultures are full of enzymes, which are used in marinades, transforming meat, seafood and fish into delicacies and flavors.
8 Cook your kombucha scoby
You have been brewing kombucha for a few months? Your scoby (or kombucha mother) are growing and you have no more friends to give them to? You do not want to compost them? Well, cook them!
Although this suggestion may seem strange, the kombucha scoby is actually made of cellulose, bacteria and yeasts. So it is fibers filled with probiotics! To cook them, you can dip them in a sweet syrup and have them dehydrated to make jujube-type candies. You can also mix them with fruits and have them dehydrated to make fruit rolls. They are also easily incorporated in smoothies, where their little tangy taste adds a je ne sais quoi.
Want to learn more?
Check our books collection and our recipes and howto.