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Peelings and scraps: Inedible Food Waste

Some fruit and veg comes with tough, inedible outer coatings (like skin of pineapples or melons) or seeds and cores that can’t be eaten (like apple cores and peach pits). Other waste that can’t be eaten includes bones from a roast chicken. This must be disposed of in some way. There are also peelings from things like carrots and potatoes.

Peelings and scraps: Why do we peel vegetables?

The peel around vegetables is full of nutrition and fibre, but some time between World War Two and now we started peeling vegetables. During the war “housewives” became thrifty and nutrition-wise cooks and kept the peelings on vegetables. Some processes require the outer coating to be removed, for example, in canning, where clean fruit and vegetables are needed, peeling is recommended to reduce the bacteria present. Most of the time, though, it is an unnecessary and tiresome process. In the past peelings and scraps would have fed chickens and pigs, often boiled up to make “slops”, but this has been phased out due to fear of passing on animal diseases like scrapy and BSE.

How much is there?

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) estimates around 30% of our 9.5 million tonnes of food waste in the UK every year is the inedible parts of plants and animals.

What can I do?

  • Compost at home! It’s easy to start a compost bin. Read more about how to start on our Recycle Devon website.
  • Save vegetable peelings and scraps for stock. Read more about making stock from scraps.
  • Learn which peelings and scraps are actually inedible. Carrots, potatoes, parsnips and many other fruit and veg actually have perfectly edible skin. But don’t try eating avocado pits or apricot kernels!
  • Use all the leaves of veg – make carrot top pesto and eat those beetroot leaves – delicious.
  • Free seeds! Instead of throwing away seeds from vegetables like peppers and squash why not have a go at growing new plants and then harvesting your own. When seeds can cost up to £4 for a packet it makes financial sense too!

Recycle Devon have written a handy book to help you reduce food waste packed full of these tips and more together with loads of recipes to use up leftovers.