Wasting not, wanting not

  |   Cooking, Food, Science   |   No comment

Crackling has an affiliation with the Zero Food Waste Australia campaign, chilli plants withering towards the finish line of summer, an aging bag of juicing apples and a keffir lime tree. Time to share with the group.

zfw logo small

Zero Food Waste is a way of thinking around what food we buy, what will do with it and what are the boundaries of edibility. Yes, that is a real thing. Given that a food item is not bubbling with pathogenic microorganisms that could give you a food borne illness or spoiled beyond recognition it is still edible. But who decides on that boundary?

Let’s take fruit and vegetables, in this instance, and call them F&V for short.

Who decides when F&V has reached the boundaries of edibility, is it

  • The retailer who removes them from the shelves when they get less than picture perfect to make way for more produce?
  • The consumer, going by retailer’s use by dates rather than your own sensory perceptions?
  • The consumer because you can’t fit them in to your menu plan before you feel they are “off”?
  • Food photographers, stylists, bloggers, writers and the usual suspects who favour the photogenic stuff?
  • The forces of availability – can you rely on a continuous supply to the extent that you can afford to throw out less than beautiful F&V?

Now apart from the first instance, I include myself in all of those categories. Even with chef and food science / tech training and years of experience of running a household, I still get to the back of the fridge and find neglected F&V. Perhaps I bought it for price point or impulse reasons and then forgot to work it in to a menu plan or just went off the idea. It is easy to do, chiefly because we in the developed world can rely on a continuous supply.




But the question is:

if we do not address food wastage in the food value chain, will that continuous reliable supply of F&V be there for our grandchildren, or our children or even us in old age?

The world population is increasing like never before and while food production is benefiting form technological advances studies show that one third of all food produced goes to waste before it reaches market. Figures are not out on how much bought food goes to waste because we forget to use it.

Did I mention the Zero Food Waste Australia campaign? The facebook page provides links to academic reports giving data and insights in to the scale of the problem. Together we can work on solutions because we are all stakeholders. Starting with the foodies, the food bloggers, the food photographers and the cooks – leave a comment here if you would like to get involved in a competition this winter.

Keeping food out of Landfill

According to the WA waste authority, 6.5 million tonnes of food waste goes to landfill each year in this state. In the Netherlands, householders’ bins are checked for proportions of waste food. There is naming and shaming. The problem is shrinking.

apples 1

So, what can be done with the 2 kg bag of Manjimup Pink Lady “juicing” apples I bought from a major retailer because they were cheap. The value within these apples has now changed from sensory pleasures of crisp, flavoursome fruit and vitamins and fibre, but to the gel-forming pectin locked in the pips. Pectin is a long chain polysaccharide with hairy branches that will trap molecules and hold them together in a stable gel.

There withered chillis in the garden who still have the strength to glow like a Tex Mex truckstop.

chillis 1


But this is not recipe motivated by pure social and ethical responsibility. My guilty pleasure is sweet chilli sauce. And Japanese Mayo and crisps (chips, if you will). I would fight you at the buffet table to get the last serve of that, so be warned.


crisps 1


Recipe:  Sweet Chilli Sauce with Keffir Lime

2 kilos of apples, chopped

800g of white sugar

at least 2 cups of chillis, more if you can stand the heat

at least 3 kaffir limes and four or five leaves

300ml vinegar, any kind but balsamic

Glass bottles or jars with lids

Jelly bag (or an old clean pyjama top)


Large pan


Wooden spoon


apples 2

  1. First thing – alter the structure of the apples to release the pectin. We are after the linear polymers of alpha – delta galacturonic acid and we have to get them away from their soft tissues) Chop roughly and add half their volume of water and simmer for half an hour until they look like this.

apples 3


  1. Strain like this, –  put the apple pulp in to a cloth, tie it up and let the liquid pectin drip out slowly. You will need to find a well placed hook or improvise with a garden bench and a wooden spoon.*jelly bag
  2. When the mass has stopped dripping, the liquid pectin is ready.
  1. Put the sugar in the pan over a low heat and add the vinegar – the weak acid which will help form the pectin gel, and heat until dissovled stirring slowly
  2. Pick over the chillis and remove any that are blotchy, this is a basic human skill and you have it still even if you are used to opening a bag of pre-prepped stuff. Take off the stalks and and put them in  your blender bowl with enough water to lubricate. Blend to a paste and add to the pan.
  3. Bring back to just below boiling point and simmer for half an hour, adding the sliced kaffir limes and their leaves in the last 10 minutes of cooking.
  4. Sterilise your bottles or jars by immersing them in simmering water for ten minutes and draining well.
  5. When the sauce has cooled for about 20 minutes, pour in to jars or bottles (use a funnel, your aim is not that good)


So the waste from this recipe, the apple pomace that came out the jelly bag was left in the sun to dry and then added to the Crackling Compost heap.


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