For many of us, it seems like we have to wait patiently for months on end for a bounty of produce to arrive at the market (don't rub it in Californians). But once summer is in full swing, we don't want to let a single bit go to waste. You know how to use sweet corn kernels, juicy watermelon, and perfectly ripe tomatoes, but don't forget to put the cobs, rinds, and peels to good use, too—they've all got more flavor to give! Here are some of our favorite uses for all of those summer scraps and more:
No matter how you strip the kernels from their cobs, if that's all you're using, a lot of corny goodness is being left behind. The cobs, silk, and husks can be used to make broth, wrap tamales, and more.
If you've ever purchased a bundle of herbs bigger than you know what to do with, stripped herbs of all their leaves and then wondered what to do with all the lingering stems, or accidentally let your herbs go to seed and flower, well, welcome to the club. The good news is that we're full of ideas for using herb stems and edible flowers.
Melons can be tricky. With no clear external cue for ripeness, it can be hard to tell when you have a perfectly ripe melon. One sign to look for is a large yellowish-brown patch where the melon was resting on the soil (this lets you know it’s been growing for awhile), and cantaloupes give off a strong sweet smell when they’re ripe. But sometimes you still slice into a melon and are met with not-quite-ripe flesh. Not to worry, unripe melons can be redeemed in smoothies, chilled fruit soups, or agua fresca. And don't toss your watermelon rinds, those are meant to live their best lives as jam.
Neglecting your garden, even for a day or two, can result in overgrown produce. If that happens to your okra, you can use the seeds for "couscous" (and no, it's not at all slimy). The large emptied-out pods left behind needn't go to waste either! If you have a dehydrator, you can use Chef Clark Barlowe’s technique to dry and powder them, resulting in a cornstarch-like thickener.
Squash blossoms are hardly a scrap and more of a treat if you can get your hands on them at the farmers market. Use your squash blossoms quickly—ideally the same day you get them. When they're young and tender, the whole zucchini (or summer squash) can be used—skin, flesh, seeds, even the stem! As the season wears on and they grow to baseball bat-sized proportions, scoop out and roasted the seeds just as you would pumpkin.
Okay, you caught us, stale bread isn't a summer scrap—it's a year-round scrap! And we bet you'll welcome it in a cheesy, bacon-y strata all year long, too.
Stone fruit pits and kernels (the part inside of the pits) can be used to flavor vinegars, syrups, liquors, and milk or cream—the latter of which can then be transformed into other treats, like ice cream or whipped cream. The fruits' peels can be transformed into flavorful sugar and even unripe stone fruits can be tasty when treated right.
At their peak, ripe tomatoes are too good to let a single bit go unused—and there's no need to! Tomato peels make a pretty pink salt, while juicy tomato innards shine in pasta and boozy beverages.
And it's not just tomato guts and skins that can be put to good use, imperfect (so-called ugly) tomatoes are just as tasty as their photographic relatives. You might not want to highlight them in a salad or on a tartine, but here are 10 ways to let them shine in their own way.
Tell us: How do you put summer produce scraps to good use?