Listed below are recent posts across all of CalRecyle's blogs.

  • Save Hundreds of Dollars a Year and Make Your Groceries Go Further!

     

    Family cooking dinner

     

    While we’re staying home to save lives, most of us eat almost all our food at home.

    You can avoid extra trips to the grocery store, and save money. Follow these easy tips to reduce your household food waste.

    Don’t throw out $1,500 a year!

    Food Scraps

     

    • Save an average of about $1,500 or 1,000 pounds of food a year
    • Save water and fuel used to produce the wasted food you throw in the trash.
    • Lower gases that cause climate change.

    Organic waste, including food waste, in landfills emits 20 percent of the state’s methane, a short-lived greenhouse super pollutant 70 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Reducing food waste and organic waste disposal is one of the fastest and easiest ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    Let’s get started!

    Follow the environmental mantra: Reduce, reuse, recycle.

    • Check your kitchen before you shop.

      Before heading to the grocery store, plan your meals for the week. See what you already have in your fridge and cupboards to avoid buying too much.

    • Shop your kitchen.

      Look up recipes for using what you have in your cupboard or fridge. Here’s a delicious recipe for “pesto sauce” from Serious Eats to liven up any box of pasta you forgot you had in the cupboard.

    • Make friends with your freezer.

      Cold storage can provide many life hacks! What do you freeze that might surprise some people? Share with us on Facebook and Twitter!

    • Substitute with what you have.

      If the recipe calls for sour cream, unsweetened Greek yogurt works in a pinch!

    • Understand food date labels.

      Many foods are still perfectly safe to eat after the “sell by” date, or even the “use by” date, has passed. Educate yourself and don’t toss food that’s safe.

    • Only buy products in bulk that have a long shelf life.

    These days of social isolation won’t last forever, but we can make our food and dollars stretch with some new Earth-friendly lifestyle habits now that we can keep up even after we resume our social lives.

    We’re all in this together!

    Join us on Facebook and Twitter and help us reduce household food waste to save money—and to save the planet.

    Posted on In the Loop by Heather Jones on May 5, 2020

  • Save the Guac!

    Save the Guac!

     

    Today is National Guacamole Day. Now, I know it’s basically a sin to waste guacamole, but sometimes it’s hard to eat it all before it turns brown. Some folks swear by laying down a thin layer of plastic cling wrap over a bowl of guacamole to prevent it from browning, but that’s not the most sustainable option and creates unnecessary waste. Reduce your food waste by learning how to store avocados and preserve guacamole so it doesn’t turn an unappetizing shade of brown before you can get back to it.  

    Green Avocados

     

    Storing Uncut Avocados

    Starting with perfectly ripe avocados is key to preserving guacamole. Pick bright green, unripe avocados, which will ripen over a few days if you leave them out on the countertop. If you need a ripe avocado the next day, tuck it into a paper bag with an apple or banana, which will speed up the ripening process. Once ripe, move the fruit into the refrigerator to slow down the ripening process so it stays fresher longer.

    Cut avocado with pit

    Storing Cut Avocados

    The darkening of guacamole or avocado is due to the process of oxidation, which is the chemical reaction between the avocado fruit and air. If you’re only going to use half an avocado, leave the pit in the other half when storing it in the fridge, which will slow down the ripening process. 

    Guacamole with chips

     

    Saving Leftover Guac for Later

    Once you smash an avocado up, you’ve maximized the oxidation potential by exposing most of the fruit’s flesh to air. If you want your guac to look fresh for a few hours on the table, consider the following preservation techniques.

    • Add lime or lemon juice to your guac. The acid will help reduce oxidation.
    • Tuck the pits from the avocados into your guac bowl. They’ll help prevent browning, too. (But, it’s the pits trying to dip a chip into a crowded guac bowl!)
    • Some swear by mixing sour cream, Greek yogurt, or mayonnaise into guacamole, which creates a barrier or seal between the fruit and the air.
    • My personal favorite trick is to sprinkle Ball’s Fruit-Fresh Produce Protector onto a bowl of guac. You can find it in most grocery stores with the canning supplies, and this mixture of vitamin C and citric acid prevents the natural browning that comes with oxidation on cut avocados, apples, and potatoes. It’s tasteless and works great!

    If you’re looking to reduce your food waste in general, it’s helpful to learn a little bit about how to store fresh produce and prepared foods so they have a long shelf life. The U.S. EPA offers great storage tips to help your fruits and vegetables last longer.

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Sep 16, 2019

  • Package-Free Salad Dressing

    As CalRecycle’s Executive Fellow, I have learned the intimate details of waste management in California and have seen firsthand what our discarded waste looks like at material recovery facilities (MRFs) across the state. I know that Californians produced 76.5 million tons of waste in 2016. But standing on the floor of a MRF and seeing the trucks unload tons of material was honestly alarming to witness.  I have made it my mission to reduce my consumption of packaging, which accounts for a quarter of the waste generated in California. As a former chef, food packaging is an easy place for me to start cutting back on my own waste generation.

    Salad dressing is commonly sold in packaging at the grocery store, but here’s the secret: it is shockingly easy to make at home, and so much cheaper than purchasing it in the store. Making your own salad dressing eliminates the purchasing of packaging, plus, when you make it at home you have complete control over the ingredients.

    As a former restaurant cook, I know that cooking is all about ratios, and the best example of that is a vinaigrette salad dressing recipe. The basic ratio formula for a vinaigrette dressing is 1 part vinegar or acid to 3 or 4 parts oil.

    Choosing your oil

    While you could use any cooking oil you like, a neutral tasting oil is your best bet for a vinaigrette dressing. You do not want to overwhelm the other flavors in your salad. I usually opt for half extra virgin olive oil (a stronger-tasting oil) with half regular olive oil, canola, or vegetable oil (neutral-tasting oils).

    Choosing your vinegar or acid

    Pick any tasty vinegar you like. My favorites to use in salad dressings are rice wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, or balsamic vinegar. I would advise not using distilled plain white vinegar as the flavor is too harsh for dressing. I also substitute lemon or lime for acid in place of vinegar in a pinch.

    Choosing your seasonings

    Salt and pepper are essential, but I also like adding fresh herbs: cilantro, parsley, and basil are my favorites. Dry herbs work beautifully as well. Mustard is a great addition for a little tang, and I also enjoy some maple syrup or agave for a little sweetness. Garlic or shallot are nice if you mince them into small enough pieces or make your vinaigrette in a blender or food processor.

    Making your vinaigrette dressing

    Oil and vinegar must be emulsified together in order to evenly coat your salad, and there are a number of ways to accomplish this.

    My favorite is simply pouring all my ingredients in a jar, covering the jar with a lid, and shaking vigorously until they are combined.

    If you’re serving a crowd, you could simply combine all your vinaigrette dressing ingredients in a bowl, whisk together, and then add all your salad right on top of it, toss, and serve.

    You could also use a blender or food processor to make your dressing. Simply combine your ingredients except the oil, turn the blender on, and slowly add the oil as the machine is running.

    Homemade vinaigrette dressing is easy and versatile, and when you get the hang of it and discover your preferences, you barely need a recipe.

    Here is one of my favorite vinaigrette dressings:

    Red Wine Vinaigrette (Makes ¾ Cup of Dressing) 

    Ingredients

    • 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
    • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
    • ¼ cup canola or other neutral oil
    • 1-2 garlic cloves, finely minced
    • ½ of a small shallot, finely minced
    • 1-2 teaspoons fresh oregano, basil, or parsley (dried Italian seasoning or oregano works great too)
    • 1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • Optional: honey or agave to sweeten, to taste

    Directions

    1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl or jar. If using a food processor or blender, add all ingredients except the oils
    2. Mix or stir vigorously. If using a food processor or blender, turn on the machine and slowly add the oil while the machine is running to emulsify the dressing.
    3. Taste and adjust your seasonings, adding salt and pepper.
    4. Serve and enjoy immediately or store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
    Posted on In the Loop by Allegra Curiel on Aug 30, 2018