Fermented by L A B

Sustainability

5 [Anti] Food Waste Ferments

Sustainability, FermentsAlana Holloway
 
grapefruit peels
 

It’s no secret that I’ve got an aversion to food waste.  It’s likely the influence from my Gran’s “waste not, want not” attitude and my Mum’s obsession with making sure she gets every last scrap from the whatever bowl/pan she’s been cooking from… when she discovered silicon spatulas it’s as if all her prayers had been answered!   

When I started FBL and began fermenting on a larger scale, it hit me quite hard to see just how much food waste is produced in commercial kitchens by way of peels, rinds and knob-ends (why…what do you call them?!)  Although we have always composted our food waste at FBL (you can read about that and how else we identify as a low-impact business here), I knew there was more that could be done with our scraps, after having followed the closed-circuit food production practices of the hugely inspirational Silo.  

Fermentation lends itself so well to utilising the bits of food you might otherwise throw away and if you’ve been following me for a while, you may have seen some of my experiments on Instagram.  Today I’m sharing with you 5 of the anti-food-waste ferments that I think you’ll get most use out of.

 

Beetroot + Ginger Kvass

Fresh beetroot are beautiful things.  Rather than chucking the rough tops and stringy roots, pop them in a clean glass jar along with some ginger peels and knob-ends then fill with a 2% salt brine solution.  Leave to ferment at room temp until it’s a salty sour drink (usually around 7-10 days) before straining and decanting into a glass bottle.  A slice of orange or lemon would also work beautifully in this recipe. Take it as a shot in the morning for a great kick start to your day.

Optional: Once bottled, leave at room temp to carbonate for a further day or two before popping in your fridge.  


Preserved Citrus Peels

 
preserved lemon peels
 

Next time you cook a recipe that calls for lemon/lime/orange juice, don’t throw the peels away!  Cut them into quarters or eighths and pack them tightly into a jar, salting liberally as you go.  Pop a few whole lemons/limes/oranges in along the way and maybe even add some spices for a lime-esque pickle.  Top the jar up with water, making sure the peels are completely submerged.  These will take a couple of months at room temperature to mature. Here is a more in depth recipe.

 

Tepache

 
tepache
 

This recipe does require an organic pineapple (organic is always advised when fermenting) which are quite tricky to get your hands on and a bit expensive.  But if you’ve gone to all that trouble, best use the whole thing, eh!  Tepache is a pineapple-y, ginger beer-y drink which utilises the peel and core and relies on the microbes present on the skin for fermentation.  Pop the peel and core in a clean Kilner jar and top up with an 8-10% strength sugar water solution (raw cane sugar preferably).  You can also add some ginger, a cinnamon stick, a couple of slices of chilli, cloves, etc.  You get the idea.  Allow to ferment at room temp for 4-5 days before straining, bottling and popping in the fridge.  Remember to burp throughout fermentation to avoid any explosions!

 

Apple/Pear Core Cider Vinegar 

 
apple cider vinegar
 

Next time you make apple crumble/pie/anything with a few apples in it, use the cores and peels to make ACV or PCV!  Pop the cores and peels of 3-4 apples in a 1L Kilner Jar.  Top up with water and 10g sugar.  Cover with a muslin cloth and elastic band to secure and leave to ferment at room temp for 8-10 days, shaking or stirring every day to prevent mould growth.  Strain and bottle.  A more detailed recipe can be found here.

  

Ginger Peel + Knob-End Bug

Instead of making your ginger bug with the good parts of the ginger root, try using all the gnarly ends that aren’t really good enough to eat but are too good to waste.  This is a good ginger bug recipe to follow.


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What Being a Low Impact Business Means to Me

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The health and longevity of this planet means a lot to me.  As humans living on planet earth, we’re faced with hundreds of daily decisions about whether we contribute to the harm of this planet, or don’t.  The media surrounding the many ways in which we can save Planet Earth has been hard to ignore this past year.  Amen to that.  But it’s hard not to become completely overwhelmed by it all, eh! 

Enough is Enough: the Plastic Packaging Has to Go...

SustainabilityAlana Holloway

How it all began

When I first started FBL, I was sure I was going to be a plastic-free, or at least very low-plastic business.   The first Boxes I sent contained bio-degradable packing peanuts to protect the glass jars and bottles.  The labels on the jars and bottles were paper, the Boxes themselves were cardboard and even the tape I used was paper (both of those thigs still stand).  About a month and a half, I had had to send out so many replacement boxes due to breakages, that if I didn’t change something about the way I was packing my ferments, I’d be out of business pretty quickly. Not to mention the extra carbon miles accrued and the tonne of wasted product.  You see, the bio-degradable packing peanuts are made from corn starch and dissolve when they come into contact with liquid.  The nature of ferments mean that they can be pretty lively and occasionally the jar or bottle leaks when in transit. Add that to the condensation from the pre-chilled bottles ad what was often being delivered was a Box of dissolved, gluey, packing peanuts stuck to glass jars and bottles that had crashed against each other and broken … not quite what I was aiming for.

fermented by lab.jpg

 Packaging: marks 2 and 3

When I came across plastic inflatable air-packs, I thought my prayers had been answered.  I had found something that protected to a very high level (the journey my boxes go on with the courier is very bumpy, cramped and turbulent, so high-level protection is vital) that was also 100% recyclable and I have been using them ever since, with much success.  However, the recent hike in awareness about the damage plastic is doing to our planet – recyclable or not – has meant that I’ve had to return to the drawing board. It’s at this point (and at many points before) that I wish all my bottles and jars were the same size; that way I’d be able to use the standard cardboard dividers, some extra padding and I’d be away! Being a one-woman-band has meant that this trip to the drawing board has taken longer than I’d hoped.  There have been quite a few back-and-forths with the packaging company to try and get the design right, which has delayed the process even further, and it’s still not quite there.  You, my lovely customers, have been extremely patient and understanding of the time it’s taking and for that I am ever so grateful…

 

What’s next?

… But then my eyes were opened and on Tuesday of this week (02.10.18), I said enough is enough.  I, like many others, watched the BBC documentary Drowning in Plastic and I felt physically sick.  Even thinking about it now brings a tear to my eye.  I was well aware that we couldn’t go on using plastic like we have been, but I had absolutely no idea quite how bad the situation had become.  And to think that I’ve been contributing to that as a business, makes me feel so ashamed.  I have made a promise that I won’t place another order for the plastic air-packs; there has to be another way.  I have a number of them to get through before I can stop using them altogether, but over the next few deliveries, I’ll be phasing in an alterative.   It won’t be the alterative that I’ve been working on as the design is still being tweaked and then the bespoke cutter needs to be made.  The lead time, once the order has been placed, is then another couple of weeks, give or take.  Then there’s the busyness of the Christmas period to think about.  But, for the sake of not putting any more single-use plastic into our oceans - and the creatures that live within - I’m just going to have to suck it up.  I’m freaking out that it’s all going to go tits-up and I’m really hoping that the temporary alternative won’t result in a load of breakages – I’ve learnt a lot about how to package since my early days – but if it does, I’m praying that you’ll bear with me.

I’ll be sure to keep you updated on any progress that’s made.  If you have any suggestions for my interim alternative, please throw them my way!

That’s it for now! 

Alana x