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Chris Amirault

Repurposing Food & Kitchen Stuff You Usually Throw Away

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Over in the mushroom powder topic, I mentioned that those little silicon packets were useful to stick in jars of the powder to keep it dry. You know the ones I mean: they come in instant noodle packages and with other foods that are susceptible to getting soggy. They have a lot of uses around my kitchen; most recently, I stuck one in a container of smoked coconut powder.

The other item I hoard -- and, indeed, often pilfer from the produce section of the grocery store -- are asparagus elastics. I don't know why, but those little purple buggers are the best elastics I've ever seen. I use them to wrap up opened packages of corn meal, bacon, you name it.

Surely there are others repurposing these sorts of objects out there. And if you're a bit obsessive about it, we'll just call you an uber-recycler or something. :wink:


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Those little metal clips that come with bags of vacuum sealed coffee beans. It's not so much that we go out of our way to hoard them, but we use a fair amount of coffee, and we don't throw away those clips, so we are always using them to clip anything that comes in a bag.

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I used to stockpile the produce bags because they were the ideal bags with with to clean up after our dog on walks. Over our dog's lifetime, we found many other uses for the bags (small garbage receptacle in car, vehicle for taking snacks along on a museum visit, overwrap for boxes of brown sugar, etc.), so much so that his untimely demise has only slightly lessened the household demand for produce bags. Indeed, when Momo passed away I stopped embezzling bags for a time, and eventually started to receive complaints that we were low on bags. So I restarted the dormant tradition. We still refer to them as "Momo bags" as in "May I please have a couple of Momo bags?"


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Do produce bags count? If they had a charge of Grand Theft Produce Bags, I'd be guilty.

I am very curious about your produce bags. Ours are just so incredibly flimsy and fragile they hardly even survive the journey home. Can you please tell me what is special about yours?

I hoard the plastic thingies that are used to close the plastic bag on bread but only when I find the larger size. They make great scrapers when you have a surface to clean that you'd rather not scratch. Like Chris, I also hoard the bands from asparagus and broccoli. I have just about given up on yogurt containers as they were taking over the house but do keep enough around to send away with leftovers for family and guests. I save a few of the plastic tops from the cardboard/metal cans of Tetley teas as they make the perfect "catcher" under my salt and pepper mills.


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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We save the plastic caps that come on dairy products...but only the ones which fit nicely onto our hummingbird feeders. And we have well over a dozen. Oh, the caps are for cleaning and storage purposes. Ed has take on the job of chief hummingbird caretaker and he takes it very seriously. We use more sugar in the spring, summer and fall than seems seemly.

We have more hummingbirds each year that you could ever imagine in this northern clime and considering that our flower garden is laughable and almost-non-existent after 15 years of benign neglect, I can't figure out why we have been 'picked' for home base. Sitting outside almost anywhere in the 'back yard'is an amazing experience, and can be unnerving for those who are not at home with being constantly whizzed past by many little feathery bodies. I think the ultimate experience is catching and taking one of the little guys out of the sun room in your hands. They go limp when you touch them and you can feel NOTHING in your cupped hands.

And all this from a few dairy container caps. :smile:


Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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[The other item I hoard -- and, indeed, often pilfer from the produce section of the grocery store -- are asparagus elastics. I don't know why, but those little purple buggers are the best elastics I've ever seen. I use them to wrap up opened packages of corn meal, bacon, you name it.

Just don't touch your fingers to your lips after handling those purple, super strength, rubberbands. I don't know what it is but they leave a trace of something on one's fingers and it has a horrible bitterness to it.


Edited by LuckyGirl (log)

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Where I shop there are, at various places around the store, four species of plastic bags. Only one of them is suitable.

There are the flimsy, crinkly bags that are folded in quarters lengthwise and come on a roll that looks like an adding machine roll. They put those nearest the entrance. They also hold a little more than any of the other bag types so they put them near the kale and other big leafy stuff. Then there are some flimsy, crinkly ones that also populate the produce section and are crummy like those at most markets. But over by the selection of Earthbound Organic lettuces there are these great bags with the store logo and an Earthbound logo. I assume the store gets them free from Earthbound as part of some sort of shelf-space-brokering arrangement (the lettuces are already packaged so there's no actual need for bags). Anyway, these bags are great: sturdy, smooth, non-crinkly in the pocket, good size. There are also the bags in the bagels-and-rolls area of the store, which are made of an even higher-quality plastic but are too large for my tastes. Also there's the format in which they're presented. The Earthbound bags are in stacks, attached by a perforated end to a plastic stick, so you can grab a dozen at once. The bread bags are on rolls, so grabbing a dozen requires standing there and pulling off one at a time while annoyed fellow shoppers look on.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Just don't touch your fingers to your lips after handling those purple, super strength, rubberbands. I don't know what it is but they leave a trace of something on one's fingers and it has a horrible bitterness to it.

That's the theft-deterrent chemical.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Since the question covers "food & kitchen stuff" I've got to give credit to Asian-food takeout containers. Our cabinets are full of them. We became so enamored of a certain rectangular plastic container one Vietnamese restaurant used that, when we stopped ordering regularly from there, I went online, found the product (Newspring VERSAtainer) and bought a carton.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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We hoard green produce bag twist ties for trash day. The sanitation guys around here don't pick up your garbage unless it's in one of these flimsy, $2 each, township-labeled garbage bags, and they don't even come with twist ties. The twist ties are also good for closing brown and powdered sugar bags.

We've converted many a square, clear plastic rice tub to nuts & bolts storage.

Nowadays, stale nuts and pretzels make their way into homemade suet.

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Just don't touch your fingers to your lips after handling those purple, super strength, rubberbands. I don't know what it is but they leave a trace of something on one's fingers and it has a horrible bitterness to it.

That's the theft-deterrent chemical.

Oh my, that gave me such a chuckle!

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Where I shop there are, at various places around the store, four species of plastic bags. Only one of them is suitable.

....

Ah so! Thank you. The only ones we seem to get are the krinkly folded ones or the flimsy ones on the roll. In the bakery aisle they are indeed sturdier and larger.


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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I have at least 50 of the little "tasting" spoons one gets at Baskin-Robbins or other ice cream stores, delis, etc.

I can't begin to list all the uses I have found for these little spoonlets. Just right for mixing little dabs of stuff that is sticky or otherwise messy - then throw the spoonlet away. Perfect for tiny portions of mustards, other sauces set out in tiny dishes.

They go into a mesh bag and are washed on the top rack in the dishwasher (although they also survived in my old (and hotter) one).

I also recycle and re-purpose the items listed by others here.

Most of the grocery bags I bring home (although I mostly use the "permanent" ones from Trader Joe's and Whole Foods) are passed along to one of my neighbors who makes rugs from them. I think it is a very clever way to recycle these bags to keep them out of landfills.

She ties them together into long "ropes" then braids the ropes and forms them into a flat coil, usually a long oval, just as one would make a "rag" rug, sewing the braids together with heavy waxed twine. These "rugs" are thick and cushiony and are used by the folks who work in the plant nursery owned by her and her husband. They have to stand in one spot for long periods and these make the task less onerous. She gave me one for my garage - placed in front of the work bench - several years ago and it has lasted much longer than I ever expected.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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We love carbonated water, and we buy it in the larger plastic bottles. Here in Seattle we can recycle them, but we also use them as plant-waterers. You cut the bottom off the bottle and fit the neck into a little spike that you fill with sand and stick in the ground by the plant. Then you can fill the bottle with water if you're going to be away for the weekend. I've also seen bird-feeders that use these bottles.

Also, there's the classic: popsicle sticks for plant markers.


Edited by Special K (log)

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Nestle's Quik containers, with hole cut into bottom edge, excellent storage for bath toys. Also good to rinse out shampoo from hair of offspring.

Beercan cozy - covers faucet in tub, to reduce risk for munchkin.

egg cartons or small plastic cups for starting seedlings.

egg cartons for paint-trays when doing art w munchkin

the top makes a nice pallet too.

pie tins - makes a moat around petfood bowl to keep the 6-legged beasties out.

(used this one in Miami)

But, what to use as a lid for a Fancy Feast can? The manufacturer sees it as a single serving. My cat sees it as three servings....

editted: Gah. Quik. not quick.


Edited by Kouign Aman (log)

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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paper egg cartons

* great seed-starting pots; when it's time to transplant, I cut off the bottom of the cup before placing the whole works into the larger pot. Worked a dream w/ the 50+ tomatoes we started this spring

* perfect for storing above-mentioned tomatoes, at harvest time. Especially good for the small plum toms which were not quite ripe. The egg box provided safe storage which was dark and airy.

small plastic berry baskets

* useful for storing the lids of plastic containers

* great for measuring & transporting u-picked berries

broccoli elastics

* exactly the right size & weight for maintaining order in the "reusable grocery bag" cupboard. Also very valuable for "finishing" vessel-shaping when working clay on a wheel

* placed around the neck of the shower-head, provides a more convenient place for hooking the laundry-hanging-thingy.


Karen Dar Woon

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But, what to use as a lid for a Fancy Feast can? The manufacturer sees it as a single serving. My cat sees it as three servings....

So does mine! I have little blue lids from Petco (with their logo) that fit perfectly.

Broccoli bands, when wrapped around stubborn jar lids, give great traction.

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But, what to use as a lid for a Fancy Feast can? The manufacturer sees it as a single serving. My cat sees it as three servings....

So does mine! I have little blue lids from Petco (with their logo) that fit perfectly.

Thank you!

Next time I repurpose crickets from being a snack food to use as a pet food, I'll also check out the lids.


"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Crown Royal used to (still do??) come in these purple cloth drawstring bags. As a kid, I used to keep my crayons and toys in there.

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Now that I'm seeing other people's answers, I'm realizing that there are countless things around the house that have been repurposed from food stuff. Like the large plastic bear that held animal crackers and is now the vessel we fill up with water to wash our son's hair in the bathtub. I'm going to need to take a more thorough inventory and report back.

Not to mention, in the Third World, people build houses out of all this stuff.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'm loving this.

Those asparagus elsatics make wonderful pony tail holders (not food related).

Strikes me that most often, I am re-purposing kitchen stuff for household stuff and visa versa (think offset spatula for drywalling).


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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I buy one tin of Illy coffee for each new place I move to, drink it, and then use the tin to store my (cheaper) coffee beans from there on out. My kitchen is not right without an Illy tin. Any glass bottles get saved and used as bulk spice storage.

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