More taste less waste – new ingredients and new flavours

Just like binary reducing waste and using new ingredients can be delicious and sustainable

A few years ago when Kopi Luwak coffee was in the press (if you haven’t come across it yet – its coffee which is made from partially digested coffee cherries which is collected from the droppings of the Asian palm civet) it caught my attention.  It apparently tastes delicious and no coffee will ever compete again.  However, it’s not the sensory aspects of the coffee that caught my attention but rather – who first decided that roasting and making a hot beverage from cat droppings which be a good thing to do.  

What it does demonstrate (putting aside the animal welfare aspects of the civet) is that if we think a little differently about what we eat and drink there may well be delicious new food and drink options out there which will reduce waste and hopefully taste delicious in the process.

Hop leaves being stripped off during hop harvest ready for composting

Hop leaves would be a good example of this.  Originally hops were added because they provided microbial stability to beer and since then we have fallen in love with the different bitterness and flavours that hops impart – but in all cases the leaves would go to waste.

Just like our hop leaves impart a tangy, wine like taste to the beer and we love the idea of using waste as a core ingredient to impart a unique flavour to what we eat and drink. There are so many different ways to reduce waste but here are few food and drink related favourites.

  1. Try a lockdown meal kit

With the restaurants still closed meal kits are a great way to experiment without the waste.  In our house, eating something which falls outside the standard cooking has meant that there are very seldom leftovers which would normally be dutifully packed into the fridge for two days before eventually throwing out.   Some wonderful restaurants are even brining fine dining into the home with their 3 course dinner meal kits.  

2. Eat in season produce

I was in Uganda for work at one point and we were given avocados to eat that had just been picked from the tree.  It was the most delicious avocado I have ever eaten.  Fruit and vegetables that are allowed to ripen naturally and their enzymes to develop just taste better.  To satisfy our appetite to eat strawberries all year around, product is harvested early and kept in chilled containers.  It ripens out of the natural environment and does not develop its full flavour.  Because we have become so used to eating everything all the time seasonal fruit and vegetable calendars. can help as well as in-season recipes for some inspiration or

3. Buy waste-reducing brands

There are so many brands doing interesting things in the sustainability space and all attacking it from a slightly different angle.  Flawsome drinks and Urban Cordial both using surplus fruit to make their fruit juices and cordials.  Toast ale using leftover bread or crumpets to make their beer and Discarded rum using banana skins to make their unique tasting rum.  looked at brands turning waste ingredients into new food products and in some cases this has created a halo effect for the original company as is the case of ‘The real Dill’ which turned its cucumber infused water waste product from pickle production in a mix to make Bloody Mary.   Perhaps one day hop cones will be the by product for hop leaf production!

Cauliflower with no waste – florets, leaves and stems in 3 dishes

4. Experiment with new ingredients

One could argue that beer is the home of the original upcycled product with marmite being made from spent brewer’s yeast.  With some innovation thinking food and beverage innovation is ready for the next marmite.  

Perhaps not as bold as sampling civet dropping but there are other ingredients to consider which would normally be considered waste products.  Try to repurpose food scraps before they make it to the compost bin. Broccoli stems can be chopped and cooked just as well as the florets, and other scraps can be transformed into homemade stock!   And skin – with the focus on gut health and the role of fibre in our overall well-being – a lot of what we throw away in the skin of fruit and vegetable is high in fibre and other nutrients and worth considering.   We eat apple skins but not bananas or mango skin – why?  So get that banana skin into a smoothie and see what you think. 

5. Love the ugly

Supermarkets have conditioned us to what fruit and vegetables should look like.  However, some of the best fruit and vegetables that we have eaten from local farmers markets would be something I would instinctively not choose in a supermarket but have been some of the tastiest fruit and vegetables I have eaten.  If we could recondition ourselves on what good fruit and vegetable looks like we could help reduce waste before it even hits our homes.

Here at binary we love all things food and drink related. So if you discover an interesting brand or make some thing delicious with a banana skin or another forgotten ingredient we would love to know.



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