6 foods you can rescue from the brink of the compost bin

red grapes
CC BY 2.0 Seth Werkheiser

These ingredients might look inedible, but they're delicious if you know what to do with them.

If you spend any time reading about food, then you've probably come across lists of kitchen tips about how to turn stale crusts into bread crumbs, bones into stock, bruised apples into applesauce, and more. While useful to know, this is fairly straightforward advice with no earth-shattering repercussions.

This list, however, is different. This list takes reviving old food to a whole other level. These are the foods that you really didn't think were destined for anywhere other than the compost bin and shows how you can turn them into something surprising and delectable.

Most of these ideas come from a fabulous source, LifeHacker's 'Eating Trash with Claire' series. Author Claire Lower has ideas that never would have occurred to me in a million years -- and yet make so much sense! Take a look and let me know what you think.

1. Feta brine & mozzarella whey: If you're a cheese lover, you may be left with tubs of white liquid that usually get dumped down the sink. Stop doing that! This is great stuff for adding to rice, bread and pizza doughs, pasta-cooking water, and even stock pots. Lower writes:

"For the whey, just cook the rice however you usually would, using the whey in place of your usual plain tap water. The brine may need to be diluted depending on how salty it is. Mozzarella whey will impart a subtle, slightly creamy flavor to the batch, while feta brine will add a much more noticeable amount of funk and salt."

2. Leftover thyme stems: If you use fresh thyme in your cooking, you'll be familiar with the thin woody stalks left behind after stripping off the leaves. Turn these into a delicious cocktail syrup. Make a simple syrup, with a 1:1 ratio of white sugar and water. Heat till sugar dissolves, toss in stems, and let infuse overnight. Enjoy with gin over ice.

3. Soft, mushy grapes: I must say, this idea floored me. I've thrown away far too many grapes in my life because, once they turn mushy, no one in the family likes to eat them. It turns out, roasting mushy grapes turns them into a decadent chutney of sorts that accompanies cheese, crackers, and wine perfectly. Toss grapes with olive oil or melted better, add a grind of pepper and a dash of kosher salt, and roast till skins have burst and "their delicious juices have condensed to a syrup." (Is your mouth watering yet?)

4. Sad leftover greens: When in possession of greens, make pesto. Pesto is the answer to every greens-related problem. Whether it's cilantro stalks, parsley stems, limp arugula or kale, wilted carrot tops, even chard stems and strawberry tops, you can toss almost anything in a blender with olive oil, parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, and a dash of lemon, and the end result is always fabulous.

5. Old lettuce: Who knew there was hope for old lettuce? Before it goes black and slimy, but is tragically beyond the redemption offered by an ice water bath, turn it into a savoury condiment that can be spread on bread, a.k.a. lettuce jam. Described by original author as a sort of salsa verde, lettuce jam involves steaming the lettuce and mixing with shallots, capers, cornichons, and Dijon.

6. Apple peels: Usually my kids eat these, but if I can fend them off long enough, Lower says they make excellent chips. Toss the peels with a bit of cinnamon sugar and melted butter and pop them in the oven for 10 minutes or so. Watch carefully so they don't burn. (via the Kitchn)

Do you have any tricks for using up unusual foods that are just about gone?

6 foods you can rescue from the brink of the compost bin
These ingredients might look inedible, but they're delicious if you know what to do with them.

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