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The Ultimate Guide to Using Leftover Ingredients

By Morgan Shupe on October 21, 2016, categorized in In the Kitchen

The Ultimate Guide to Using Leftover Ingredients

Using the spare ends of ingredients can be a challenge. Here are my favorite ways to preserve extra ingredients and my tips on how to make the most out of your leftovers.

Methods of Preserving Leftover Ingredients

Quick Pickle

Quick pickles are a great way to extend the life of leftover vegetables, tofu, and fruit. Try pickling berries and adding them to salads for a sweet and tart flavor bomb.

Make a simple brine of one-to-one ratio vinegar and sugar (or extra vinegar if you like your pickles tart). Add optional flavoring elements (extra sugar, herbs, garlic, salt, or peppercorns), if desired. Heat until it reaches a boil.  Fill a jar full of vegetables, tofu or fruit and pour hot brine over top. Refrigerate and wait 24 hours before digging in. Quick pickles must be refrigerated and will last up to six weeks in the fridge.

Flavored Vinegars and Oil

Making flavored vinegars and oils is a great ways to use leftover hot peppers, fruit, herbs, or anything with a strong flavor that will lend well to infusing.

Flavored Vinegar:  Fill quart jars full of desired flavoring agent and top with vinegar, or liquor of choice. Let it sit in a dry, cold place for up to three weeks. Drain and enjoy.

Flavored Oil: Heat oil until just hot and add flavoring agent (green onion, hot peppers, herbs, etc.). Turn off heat and let cool. Blend oil and flavoring agents.  Strain out solids and refrigerate oil for up to six weeks.

Ice Cubes: One of the best ways to save small amounts of extra ingredients is to freeze them into ice cube trays and then transfer them to labeled snack bags. This technique is great for herbs, tomato paste, and coffee.

Freeze: Prep extra fruit or vegetables and freeze them onto a sheet pan. Once frozen add to plastic bag or container. Use fruit for smoothies or baking and vegetables for soups and stews.


How to Save Leftover Produce


  • Apples : Use mealy apples to make apple sauce by slowly cooking chopped apples over low-to-medium heat until soft and broken apart. Applesauce can be frozen into ice cubes and one quarter of a cup can be used as an egg substitute, but only for recipes calling for two eggs or less. Apple butter is also a delicious option.
  • Carrots: Leftover carrot will last a few extra weeks once made into a quick pickle (see above for recipe). Add coriander seeds or made spicy with hot peppers to your carrot pickles. Alternatively, shred your carrots and mix into a slaw or into your favorite baked goods. You can mix up to ½ cup shredded carrots into most quick bread recipes.
    • Carrot Cake Oats: Mix one shredded carrot, with ½ cup oats, 4 to 6 tablespoons plant-based yogurt, 4 tablespoons non-dairy milk, ½ teaspoon cinnamon (and/or nutmeg) and two tablespoons raisins. Chill overnight and top with chopped nuts. Or make some in your slow cooker.
  • Citrus: Chop leftover citrus peels and allow them to dry out. Use the peels to flavor teas.
  • Cucumber
    • Tzatziki : Chop half of a cucumber and mix with two cups thick, plain non-dairy yogurt, garlic, dill , lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
    • Chili Lime Popsicles: Blend half of a peeled cucumber with one quarter of a hot chili pepper, the juice of two limes, and freeze them into popsicles.
  • Fennel: Use fennel stocks in soup instead of celery to add an anise taste to broths. Use fennel fronds in salads or juice them.
  • Herbs: Fill ice cube trays three quarters full with chopped herbs and top with olive oil. Freeze and use in place of fresh herbs in sauces, soups, etc.
  • Root Vegetables: Create a root vegetable slaw by shredding raw root vegetables like carrots and beetroot, mixing them with cabbage and vinaigrette.
  • Root Vegetable Tops: Most root vegetable tops are edible! Sauté with greens, or use in pesto.
  • Tomatoes: Purée leftover tomatoes and freeze into snack-sized plastic bags. Use in recipes to substitute canned tomato puree or in soups or sauces that call for fresh tomatoes.


How to Save Leftover Pantry Ingredients

  • Bread: Cut old bread into cubes and let dry out on a sheet pan. Blitz bread cubes in a food processor to create bread crumbs (blitz basically means to attack and break them up). Add herbs for herby bread crumbs. Freeze for up to three months.
  • Chickpea Flour
    • Fritters: Mix chickpea flour with a pinch of salt and just enough water or plain sparkling water until thin. Dip veggies in batter and fry until golden.
    • Pakora: Make these Baked Vegetable Pakoras using the last of your chickpea flour and substitute the veggies for any you need to use up.
  • Coconut Milk: Use leftover coconut milk to make milkshakes and smoothies, or in soups, stews and curries to make them creamy.
  • Vanilla Bean: Infuse vinegar or sugar with spent vanilla beans. Make vanilla bean powder by drying spent vanilla beans and then grind them into a powder to be added to desserts, baked goods and smoothies.
  • Tomato Paste: Freeze tablespoon dollops of tomato paste on a sheet pan and then transfer to a freezer bag or container. Use as required in recipes.
  • Flour: When you have small amounts of flour left over mix them together in a small jar and use one half to two tablespoons to thicken sauces and gravies. The best flours for this is all-purpose, chickpea, arrowroot flour but small amounts of other flours are ok too.


How to Save Leftover Prepared Ingredients

  • Coffee: Freeze leftover brewed coffee into ice cubes. Fill a glass full of coffee ice cubes and top with non-dairy milk for an instant ice coffee.
  • Whipped Cream: Using a spoon, place dollops onto a sheet pan. Freeze until solid and transfer to a freezer bag or container. Remove from freezer and add directly or hot chocolate or allow to defrost for a few minutes before adding to desserts.
  • Tofu: Use leftover tofu to thicken smoothies, pureed into a creamy dip or scrambled for breakfast.
  • Tortillas and Flatbreads: Grill or bake flatbreads into chips by brushing them will oil and seasoning and grilling or baking until crisp.
  • Miso: Add miso to gravy, marinades and dressings for added umami flavors. Or make Miso Mushroom soup.
  • Pickle Brine
  • Refrigerator Pickles: Fill a jar with vegetables and top with pickle brine. Let rest in refrigerator for 1 week before consuming. Reuse brine upto 3 times.
  • Salad Dressing: Replace vinegar with pickle brine in your favorite salad dressing recipes.
  • Rice: Use leftover rice or other cooked grains in fried rice.
  • Smoothie: Use leftover smoothies in smoothie popsicles.
  • Spice Mix: Use on popcorn, on roasted vegetables, mixed int baked potatoes, or on baked tofu.

What’s your favorite way to use up your leftover ingredients?

Morgan Shupe

Morgan Shupe is a Vancouver chef, freelance recipe developer and regular contributor to Vega’s Expert Panel. Her amazingly delicious plant-based recipes for meals and smoothies are well-renowned at the Vega HQ kitchen—where she was formerly Vega’s Chef.
Morgan Shupe

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