brussel sprouts floating in boiling water

10 ways to reuse your cooking water this Christmas

Delia Smith would be horror struck if she heard about this week’s controversy about the reuse of cooking water at Greenredeem HQ. Or so we like to imagine. 

Yes, certain members of our Greenredeem team were unaware that letting cooking water drain away down the sink is an absolutely no-no. A kitchen waste worthy of an icy stare from Marcus Wareing or… much worse… Monica Galetti being terribly, terribly disappointed in you.  

Seems our colleagues had never heard about “the goodness” left behind in water used for boiling or steaming veggies. This “goodness” being not only water-soluble vitamins B, C and folate, but also bags of flavour. 

Ever heard about “the goodness” left behind in water used for boiling or steaming veggies?

To prove the value of leftover cooking water to this bunch of miscreants, we set out to gather up all the examples of reuse we could find. Do let us know if you have any more pointers to add to the tips below:     

1. Make gorgeous gravy

Why make gravy using plain water from the kettle, when leftover veggie water can give even instant gravy granules an extra depth? Simply strain out your veggies, reboil the cooking water and make the gravy as usual. Pro tip: to keep your gravy glossy, don’t use potato water. Save that to…

2. Loosen mash with a little potato water

Splash a couple of tablespoons of the potato cooking water into your cooked spuds when you add the butter and milk (or olive oil and non-dairy milk, for vegan mash). The water loosens the mix for easier mashing and a creamier result. 

3. Soak aching feet in warm potato water

The remaining potato water might not be a sight for sore eyes, but certainly is a treat for sore feet. Potatoes are rich in potassium, a nutrient that helps to relieve cramped and tight muscles.

A warm foot bath of potato cooking water can give you a mini-dose of relaxing potassium. 

4. Add to homemade stocks and soups

You may not have enough leftover cooking water to make a full pot of soup or stock, but even a small amount of flavourful leftover cooking water will give you a head start. 

5. Wash your face in the cooking water from greens

The skincare industry has gone wild for probiotics and organic nutrients derived from green vegetables, but we say skip the excess packaging and the hundred-pounds-plus price tags. 

Try washing your face with cooled cooking water from vitamin-packed cabbage, broccoli and other green veggies, and give something like this homemade probiotic yoghurt face mask a go. 

Try washing your face with cooled cooking water from vitamin-packed cabbage, broccoli and other green veggies

6. Reuse veggie water to cook rice or pasta

The water from boiling or steaming veggies is perfectly fine to use a few hours’ later when you’re putting on a pot of rice or pasta. You can also… 

7. Reuse cooking water to steam or boil more veggies

Scoop out the first batch of veggies and set them aside to keep warm, then cook another vegetable in the same pan using the same water. Works well for carrots and peas! 

8. Brew a savoury tea

Steep the lightly fragrant cooking water with a few fresh or dried herbs, add a squeeze of lemon juice and enjoy a warming, vitamin-enriched tea.  

9. Kill weeds in the garden

Just-off-the-boil veggie water is a very good natural weedkiller for patios, pathways and other outdoor areas. Be careful when transporting the hot liquid and stand clear to avoid splashing yourself when pouring the water over unwanted plants. 

10. Save unsalted water for houseplants and pots

Once fully cool, unsalted cooking water can be used to water your houseplants and outdoor plants. 

Pro tip: always retain the water from boiled eggs for your plants. They love a calcium boost! 

Can you think of any more ways to reuse cooking water? Share your ideas with the wider world at Greenredeem’s Facebook page or send us your thoughts on Twitter.

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