School is officially out for us, and we are taking every opportunity to savor the summer. I gave my kids the option to choose what they want to do this summer. So far, they want beach time, surfing, local museums, hiking and, not surprisingly, a visit to an organic farm.
Ever since my kids were toddlers they’ve enjoyed gardening fruit and vegetables. They plant squash and pumpkin seeds, and squeal with delight when they see the first leaves popping out of the dirt. They pick cherry tomatoes right when they ripen and gobble them up. And my little apple tree never seems to produce enough bounty to satisfy this lot of fruit eaters.
And one really fun activity I do with my kids is regrow food from kitchen scraps. It’s easy to do, and it’s a great way to teach kids how to reuse food to save money and resources.
How to Regrow Food from Kitchen Scraps
There are a number of kitchen scraps that you can easily regrow, including green onions (scallions) roots, onion roots, garlic cloves, lettuce heads, carrots tops, celery tops, potatoes, sweet potatoes and herbs, such as rosemary and basil.
Here’s how I suggest to use your food to the very last piece.
1. Use what you need.
Before you do anything, use what you need with fruit and vegetables. Whether you’re making a fruit salad, stew, stir fry or even just cutting up fresh vegetables to serve with a dip. Try this simple onion dip with fresh herbs.
2. Save the bulbs, roots and tops.
Set aside the green onion roots, celery root, carrot tops, etc. (the pieces you won’t use for cooking) and save to regrow. You can also save other odd bits (carrot ends, celery tops, chard stems and kale stems) to make a homemade bone broth. I store these odd pieces of vegetables in my freezer, and save up until I’m ready to make my broth.
3. Prepare a space in your kitchen.
Once you have your kitchen scraps ready, get a space ready in your kitchen or garden. Here’s a quick guide on how to regrow popular herbs and vegetables.
- Green onions, leeks and fennel – save the white root end and place in a small glass bowl with a little water. The green leafy parts will grow and you can use what you need. Replace the water every few days.
- Rosemary – place the root end in a glass jar with a little water. Replace the water every few days. Within a week or so, you’ll see new lemongrass growth. Transfer to a pot or garden.
- Celery, lettuce, cabbage and bok choy – place the white root end in a glass bowl with a little water. After a few days, new leaves will appear. Replace the water every few days. After two weeks, you can transfer to a pot or garden to sprout a whole new head.
- Potatoes – find a potato with eyes growing on it. Cut into pieces about 2-3 inches wide – each piece should have 2-3 eyes on it. Let the pieces dry out for a few days. Plant potato pieces about 5-6 inches deep in pot or garden.
- Garlic – place a single garlic clove with the root-end down in a small glass bowl or glass jar. Replace the water every few days. New shoots will grow. Cut the shoots back so the garlic will produce a new bulb.
- Onions – place the root end and plant in a pot or garden. Cover with soil and wait for new growth.
Check out my full list of 10 fruit and vegetable kitchen scraps you can actually use.
Here I prepared a celery root and rosemary. I cut away the leaves of the ends of the rosemary, and gently scraped the outer layers of the stems to promote root growth. I also left the white root end of the celery. I placed each in a small glass jar and glass bowl with a little water. I then placed both in my sunny kitchen window sill.
4. Be patient.
Many kitchen scraps regrow quickly. Green onion roots and garlic cloves take about a week or so to sprout.
5. Plant in your garden.
Once you see some growth or roots growing, you can opt to transfer your kitchen scraps to the garden. A head of lettuce can actually remain in a bowl.
Here I chose to transfer my rosemary to a small Mason jars to get it going. Use a garden marker to note herbs and other foods or to mark the date foods have been planted.
Have you ever used produce scraps to regrow your fruit and vegetables?
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