Rob’s top tips to avoid waste

Top Tips on Reheating Meat or Fish:

  • Whilst important to utilise as much of your scraps as possible such as sauces, gravies, vegetables and meats they should also all be totally fresh
  • Once your meat has been cooked – allow it to cool as quickly as possible and remove it from the bone. Then place it in a fridge. Do not store leftovers for longer than 2 days. If you reheat food make sure it is piping hot and do not reheat twice.
  • When starting to use it for your reheated dishes remove any excess fat so as to stop your reheated dish from being greasy
  • Keep any bones and trimmings for stocks and sauces
  • Remove any bones and skin from fish that you may be reheating in products
  • Meat and fish products should be chopped small or minced well for reheated products as this stops them from going tough
  • Reheated fish and meat products can sometimes be bland so often an extra spice or seasoned product can be added. To reduce added salt consider items such as smoked haddock for fish items, diced hams and gammons for meat plus other products like: onions, mushrooms, curry powders and pastes, lemon rind and juice.
  • Any added ingredients to compliment your fish or meat should be cooked first eg: potatoes for fish cakes, vegetables for shepherds pie, onions in rissoles – this is because short reheating times do not allow vegetables to cook from raw
  • It is important to add moisture to your item in the form of a sauce or gravy. The meat or fish has already lost moisture during its first cooking process. Create a white or light coloured based sauce (Béchamel or cheese) for white meats and fish and a brown sauce for dark meats and game. See recipes below.
  • If considering a shallow or deep frying of your reheated products such as kromeski and croquettes then they must be bound in a thick sauce to stop them falling apart during cooking and cooked in a hot oil to stop the fat oozing into the product and making it greasy.
  • It is recommended that all reheated fish and meat is protected from the heat to stop it drying out. That is why they are often enclosed, e.g. mash on a shepherds pie, pastas around a cannelloni, breadcrumbs on fish cakes, batter on toad in the hole
  • When adding your fish or meat to a sauce for reheating make sure it goes into a hot sauce but not boiling – a boiling sauce will toughen the product instantly.
  • The added flavour for your sauce comes from making a good fresh stock from the left over bones and vegetables.

Tips on Vegetables:

  • Usually only a short time elapses during picking vegetables and their processing into tins or freezer bags. This means that on most occasions the nutritional content can be as good as like for like fresh ones. However prices can vary. Wash of any brine from tinned vegetables before using them.
  • When freezing your own vegetables they should be young, seasonal and in excellent condition.
  • Scalding vegetables before hand preserves nutrients and colour and stops contamination of odours from other items.
  • Prepare them as you normally would for cooking and in small batches immerse them in boiling water. Small batches preserve nutritional value and stops colour loss. Literally scald for about 1½ minutes for peas up to 3 minutes for carrots and then place into some cold icy water. This stops them cooking further.
  • Once cold place into your bag or container and fill to the brim. This is important as you need to exclude as much air as possible – otherwise your shelf life and quality goes down.
  • Freeze as quickly as possible after this process.
  • Do not thaw when removed from freezer before use. As they have been scalded their cooking time will be less.
  • Remove from their packaging and cook in boiling water – reducing the cooking time from that of fresh vegetables.

Tips on the Kitchens Scraps:

  • Keep your butter wrappers to place over products when cooking to keep them moist – utilises the final bits of butter and saves on tin foil and baking paper.
  • Trimmings of Vegetables can be used to bulk out stews and casseroles or made into soups. They can also be used perhaps diced and mixed with olive oil and herbs to bulk out salads and couscous.
  • The end bits of cheeses! – Yes, you know what I mean – grate them and place into a bag in the freezer. Then when required use a sprinkle for gratinated dishes, flavouring cheese sauces or mash potatoes.
  • Chopped herbs – any spares can be frozen and used to flavour reheated dishes and stews. The colour denatures but the flavour is great.
  • Scraps of bread for bread crumbs for coatings and rissoles or slightly stale bread for bread and butter pudding.
  • Consider using slightly sour milk to make soda bread (only takes 30 minutes to make this yeast free product and great tasting) See recipe below.

Freezing and Food Safety:

  • Remember that freezing food only makes bacteria go to sleep – it doesn’t kill them. This is why products that have come out of a freezer must not be refrozen and consumed as soon as is reasonably possible.

Slow Cookers and Pressure Cookers

  • Pressure cookers have the chance to be the saviour of our budgets during the crunch times.
  • Using a pressure cooker can reduce cooking times by 70% (what an energy saving). Not only that but after a busy day you can still cook something easily and quickly
  • Pressure cookery is known to preserve a great deal if vitamins and nutrients
  • Pressure cookery is ideal for small kitchens or bedsits as the heat remains in the pot keeping room temperatures lower. Plus as everything is in the sealed pot – there aren’t any splats of food to clean up.
  • Pressure cookery requires less liquid
  • Always read the instruction on how to use your pressure cooker. Modern cookers are safer than those from the 70’s and 80’s
  • Slow cookers offer another way to cook traditional stews and casseroles.
  • They can be set up to cook over night to minimise energy costs. Food can then be chilled, frozen in portions or reheated as required. Not so good if you are a working household
  • Slow cookers whilst great for maximising flavour and tenderising products can sometimes reduce the vitamin and nutrient value

2 Responses

  1. fab

  2. Slow cookers, pressure cookers and cast iron casseroles: a comparison.
    Slow cookers do what they say; little liquid is needed, no supervision once the food is prepared, low electricity consumption, very good flavour, easy to use. Disadvantages, only suitable for ‘stewing’ type meat, pulses and veg if turned on for the whole working day, loss of vitamin C likely.
    Pressure cooker, works by increasing temperature of boiling water because of the high steam pressure. Advantages; cuts cooking time, retains vitamin C if veg steamed, ‘fresh’ flavour, low fuel consumption. Disadvantages; needs supervision and careful timing, only water based cooking liquids suitable, sometimes extra liquid is needed for stews, doesn’t ‘bring out’ the flavour of food like long slow cooking, new cooking method to learn.
    Cast iron casserole, cooks well because the iron retains heat well and doesn’t tend to burn. may use slightly less fuel than some other casseroles, can be used on the hob as well as the oven, useful for roasting stewing and boiling, suitable for oven to table. Disadvantages, heavy, can crack if dropped or cooled very quickly, expensive.
    I use all three types of cooking equipment, they all have their place depending on what type of cooking you do.

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