Halloween is approaching but does the back of your fridge look like a scene from a horror movie?
For many of us October marks the transition from Summer to Autumn which naturally leads to a seasonal change in what we eat. But as we swap our salads for warming vegetables it’s inevitable that there are foods likely to be forgotten in the the back of the fridge.
So this is the ideal time of year to take an inventory of what food you have in the kitchen and use up whatever you can to make room for the new season. For example, using those opened summer BBQ condiments as marinades can really spice October up.
Food waste is a huge environmental problem so we should all be doing our bit to reduce the amount of food we throw away. But it’s not just about the environment – throwing food away is also a huge waste of our hard earned money.
The USDA and EPA a have announced their plan to reduce food waste by half before 2030. Currently between 30 and 40 percent of food goes to waste. According to the official USDA statement the average US family of four annually discards more than two million calories worth of food or around $1,500. – Now that’s a frightening thought!
If you do have too much food it’s better to share than bin it.
This month many of us celebrate with a harvest festival and our children are asked to take food donations to school. But it doesn’t have to happen just once a year. It’s likely there’s a food bank near you and many supermarkets have food collection points. Obviously opened or perishable food products can’t be donated! But there are plenty of recipe sites and apps for using up food such as Love Food Hate Waste.
Some useful tips to help you reduce your food waste.
Prevention is the best remedy. Planning meals and using a shopping list is a good way to avoid buying too much food.
Good storage techniques will keep your food fresher for longer.
- Keep your fridge at the right temperature – this should be between 0°C and 5°C. If your fridge is too warm the food doesn’t last as long. According to the UK’s food waste prevention organization, WRAP, 70% of fridges are too warm. Excessively low temperatures in a fridge can damage some foods and reduce their nutritional value.
- At the correct temperature your fridge is the ideal place to store most fruit and vegetable except bananas, pineapple, potatoes and onions.
- And did you know that tomatoes may last longer in the fridge but they taste better at room temperature. If you haven’t time to let them warm up naturally let them soak (before you cut them) in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes.
- Don’t forget, you can put food into the freezer any time up to the use by date which is useful if you can’t eat it in time before it expires.
And, of course, regularly using the EatBy App is the most effective way to become more organized in the kitchen. The EatBy App helps you keep track of your food at a glance. It reminds you as food approaches its expiry date so you can either eat it of freeze it for later. The integrated shopping list is designed to reduce buying too much food.
And talking about Halloween…
We all love to carve Jack o’ lanterns from pumpkins or turnips. Today the lanterns are simply decorative and fun to make with the kids. Traditionally they were carved for All Saint’s Day or the harvest festival and represented spirits in purgatory before they moved on. The lanterns were placed at the doorway to frighten off malevolent spirits and the flame inside was representative of Will O’ the Wisps – the strange phenomena of flames sometimes seen by harvesters over the peat bogs in Europe. The link between Will O’ the Wisps and food waste is, of course, methane gas. It is believed that Will O’ the Wisps are caused by methane gas escaping form the depths of peat bogs. And the biggest problem associated with rotting food waste is the methane gas it produces which is many times more devastating, as a greenhouse gas, than carbon dioxide.
Britain and America wastes a lot of pumpkins every year at Halloween. In the UK alone 10 million pumpkins were sold last year at Halloween and only 5% were used for cooking. That’s to 18,000 tons of pumpkin food waste in the UK and over half a million tons in the US!
Eat flesh for Halloween!
So rather than wasting the flesh of the scooped out pumpkin it’s a better idea to use it in a traditional Halloween recipe. Pumpkin pie is a popular choice and pumpkin soup is an ideal way to warm up after an evening of trick or treating.
Here’s our favourite recipe for a delicious pumpkin soup…
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- 2 onions
- 2 Chopped garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- Your chopped pumpkin flesh
- 2 chopped carrots
- 150 grams of split red lentils
- 1 litre of vegetable stock
- A pinch of salt, pepper and sugar to taste
- 50 grams of cream or crème fraiche
- Heat the oil in a large pan or cauldron and add the onions, garlic and fry until soft.
- Add the pumpkin, carrots and lentils and pour in the hot stock.
- Season to taste.
- Cover and simmer for around half an hour or until the lentils and vegetables are soft.
- Remove from the heat.
- Blend, add cream or crème fraiche and blend again.
- Leave some cream over and allow the kids to make a scary face on the soup.
- Serve with crusty bread.
Fun Halloween Pumpkin Facts:
- The largest pumpkin pie ever baked was at New Bremen Pumpkinfest in New Bremen, Ohio, USA, on 25 September 2010 measured 6m diameter and weighed 1,678 kg (3,699 lb).
- The heaviest pumpkin weighs 1,054 kg (2,323 lb), was grown by Beni Meier in Switzerland in October 2014.
- Pumpkins are in the same family as cucumbers, melons and zucchini.
- Pumpkins were first discovered by French explorer Jacques Cartier in 1584 while exploring the St. Lawrence region of North America. He called them “gros melons” which translated into English to “pompions,” which evolved into “pumpkin.”
- Pumpkins are high in fiber and low in calories, fat and sodium. They’re an excellent source of Vitamins A and B, potassium, protein, and iron.
- Pumpkin seeds can be saved to grow new pumpkins next year. They should be planted between the last week of May and the middle of June to be ready for October.
Follow these links to download the EatBy App onto your device.