Stories / Impact

7 Waste Not Tips to Extend Your Summer Produce

Maggie Borden

August 14, 2019


Peaches peels Photo: Keirnan Monaghan and Theo Vamvounakis
Photo: Keirnan Monaghan and Theo Vamvounakis

Where did summer go? If you're like us, you couldn't wait until the farmers' market was chock-full of tomatoes and stone fruit, only to suddenly find yourself in August with a dwindling number of evenings available to bust out a clafoutis, whip up an eton mess, or impress your friends and family with some shrimp sliders at your next cookout. But all that eager al fresco entertaining comes with a price—heaps of scraps and leftovers that seem simply too good to end up in the compost bin. Thankfully, the chefs behind our Waste Not cookbook have plenty of suggestions for transforming peels and ends into condiments, sauces, soups, and sides to stretch your summer harvest deep into fall. Take a look at their tips below:

  • If you have a glut of cherry tomatoes in the summer, roast them in a baking dish until the skins pop and the liquid reduces to a thick syrup. Let cool, package in resealable plastic bags, and freeze. Use for tomato sauce or bruschetta.
  • Make your own hot sauce! Lightly crush chiles, add some crushed garlic cloves and fresh oregano, and submerge in brine (about one cup of water mixed with about 1 tablespoon of salt). Store in a cool space for a week to 10 days to ferment. Purée, thinning out with vinegar, and store in the fridge.
  • If you find that fruit is getting too soft or old, put it in the freezer to use later in a homemade smoothie, or purée and mix with seltzer for a refreshing homemade soda.
  • Store Parmesan rinds in a resealable plastic bag in the freezer and toss into soups and broths to make them more flavorful and delicious.
  • Take the parts of your ingredients that usually get tossed in the garbage or compost, such as broccoli stems and turnip tops, and sauté them in a pan with olive oil and garlic.
  • Instead of throwing away leek and scallion ends, plant them in your windowsill in a shallow cup of water. The stalks will regrow and you can use them again within a week or two, depending on conditions. Place the ends root-side-down in a cup and just barely submerge in clean water. Place the cup in the window and monitor every few days to replace the water as needed. (Clean water is essential.)
  • Save the different liquids from various pickle jars, combine them, and when you have a bunch of random veggies to use up, use the combined brine to make a quick pickle. Cut the vegetables up, boil the pickle liquid, and pour over the vegetables. Seal in a glass jar with a tight lid.

We're bringing the #wastenot experience across America this fall—get tickets to our national culinary series and learn more.


The James Beard Foundation's new cookbook, Waste Not: How to Get the Most from Your Food, offers up a host of delicious solutions to the pressing problem of food waste. Featuring 100 recipes from alumni of our Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and ChangeWaste Not will teach you how to turn every root, bone, rind, and stem into an irresistible dish.

Waste Not: How to Get the Most from Your Food, published by Rizzoli,​ is on sale now.​ Order your copy today!

Maggie Borden is content manager at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Instagram and Twitter.