I saw an article the other day about a retired couple who had embraced sustainable living and the very in-vogue concept of ‘zero waste’ to such an extreme that they took an entire year to fill up one rubbish bag.
Now, I am nowhere near this level of dedication and while I can admire it, I am not completely sure that I could aspire to it. That being said, like much of my cooking, my recent pomegranate obsession (here and here – if you’re interested) left me with one by-product that I could bear to see go to waste – the pomegranate skin.
Even though it isn’t something I would want to eat, the pomegranate’s skin is brightly coloured and fruity scented, it would be sad to see it go to waste and it also has a whole truckload of health benefits.
Trawling through the internet looking for interesting uses, many people suggest adding dried pomegranate skin to your shampoo and other beauty products for silky hair and smooth skin.
I’m not one to put the hard yards into anything if there isn’t going to be a benefit to my taste buds so instead I made a pomegranate and lemon powder to make tea infusions and flavour dishes in a Middle Eastern or Mediterranean way. Any added beautification is just a bonus!
Using as much concentration as possible, I sliced the outer layer of blood-red skin away from the soft, white pith, and did the same with two small lemons. You can dry the skin in the oven like I did for my dried citrus peel or in a slow cooker like these limes – I used the slow cooker so I didn’t have to pay so much attention to them. Leave the lid slightly ajar once the pot has heated up and mop up any condensation with a paper towel.
Once the pieces are brittle enough to snap, you know they’re done. Remove them from the slow cooker and once they are cooled, crush them into a relatively fine powder in a mortar and pestle.
Steep a teaspoon of the powder in hot water for a fruity, homemade tea, add a sprinkling into a sauce for a fruit punch. Or make your own grenadine syrup without any sugar by mixing equal parts of powder and hot water before diluting with ice cold sparkling water.
I have recently been trying to make a conscious effort lower the amount of waste coming out of our kitchen, I generally hate to throw anything away as it is but I have been thinking a bit about sustainability and ecofriendly-ness and I found an awesome way of using the apple peel left over from my tart; apple skin tea.
I know that the name doesn’t make it sound like the greatest thing, but it was actually really good, and so easy to make! Essentially it is equal parts apple skin and water, then flavoured with anything you like; a vanilla pod, a cinnamon stick, you could even add dried citrus zest for a sweet, fruitier flavour.
Just add the ingredients into a pot, bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes before draining the apple skins out. You will be left with a soft pink liquid which you can drink hot as a tisane tea, cold as a juice or even reduce it down to use as a cocktail flavouring. Or you could do as the French do and add it to a coup de champagne and make an apple kir royal.
It is a real hit and miss time of the year for apples at the moment, there is nothing I can’t stand more than an apple that’s not crunchy so I have had to problem solve with what to do on the odd occasions when I have bought apples that just aren’t up to scratch.
This week’s theme of apples comes from a variety of inspirations; France is one of the world’s biggest producers of apples and they are ubiquitous throughout the countryside of Normandy. It is also such a common ingredient in English cuisine, often found in a salad, or on a cheese board paired with a vintage cheddar.
We had an apple tree in our garden growing up which produced beautiful, tart apples as well as providing us with something fun to climb until a certain age. These apples would have been perfect for my apple, cheddar and rosemary tart as baking apples brings out the sweetness to them as the sugars caramelize.
My second recipe for the week is a take on one of my favourite childhood drinks; apple tea. I would get my uncle to get his family to send cans of apple tea powder over from Turkey as I couldn’t get enough of this sweet and aromatic drink. This version is a little easier to come by, and without a whole pile of added sugar.
A melange of cultures inspiring this week’s recipes, so with such an international scope these dishes can be adapted and make suitable for any occasion.