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What is food upcycling and how to get involved?

What is food upcycling and how to get involved?

food scrap in a caddy tipped onto floor

We’re all seeing things being upcycled today, whether it’s on TV with the Sewing Bee, online at Etsy or a second-hand shop in your local high street. Really, upcycling is a great example of using old fashioned knowledge and a bit of common sense. It’s the sort of thing our grandparents used to do to make ends meet, but now it’s become fashionable at the same time!



However, we’re not talking about upcycling furniture in this blog (as much as we love a reason to reuse something). Today, we’re going to be talking about food upcycling.

Food upcycling involves taking scraps of food that you would usually put in the bin and providing them with a second life in your kitchen.

To some it might sound difficult, confusing and let’s face it… just a little bit odd.

But we’re here to show you how easy it can be, and the incredible new treats in store for you by using these simple recipes.

This exciting new venture can be great for trying new ways to reduce your food waste or stretching every penny that goes towards your weekly food shop.

Upcycling apple cores

With this recipe, you can use just about any part of the apple, but the cores are usually the leftover pieces that are ripe for upcycling. Now stick with us, this is a great way to create something new from something used.

Apple juice – yes that’s right. Fresh apple juice! This recipe will show you that creating your own at home is not only easier than you thought but healthier too with less sugar in the juice. So, let’s begin.

*It’s important to note that all these measurements are relative, if you wish to make more juice, simply add a proportional amount of each item. 

Ingredients needed

  • Apple cores and/or peelings
  • Water
  • Sugar (4 tablespoons)
  1. Collect your apple cores and peelings and pop them in a saucepan
  2. For a strong flavour, pour just enough water into the pan to cover the apple cores and peelings. If you want a slightly weaker taste, dilute by increasing the amount of water
  3. Stir in 4 tablespoons of sugar (depending on how sour your apples tasted, you might wish to add in more sugar)
  4. Place your saucepan onto a hob on a medium heat
  5. Boil your apple cores and peelings for 45 minutes
  6. Remove the apple pieces and continue to boil your juice for another 15 minutes
  7. Cool your juice and strain (you may need to strain the liquid a few times to remove all the pulp, but if you enjoy pulp then you won’t need to do this as much!)
  8. Put your juice in a seal-able container in the fridge and drink within 5 days

We love this idea, it’s the perfect addition to that socially distanced summer BBQ you’re planning. It’s also a great way to introduce children to the kitchen with a simple recipe that they can drink later on for tea.

red and green apples and one eaten apple core

Upcycling potato peelings

When you consider all the ‘skin-on’ brands of crisps and chips, it might amaze you to discover that potato peelings are one of our most common scraps that end up in the bin. Not only is this a sad waste, but people are missing out on the ultimate movie-night snack by doing this! 



As a nation, we buy millions of packets of crisps each year, with most packaging types being difficult to recycle. By making your own potato-peel crisps, you’ll reduce your waste and maximise savings as you wave goodbye to the expense of Saturday-night share bags.

Many of us are familiar with composting our peelings, they’re great fertilisers, but we suggest roasting instead. This recipe is simple and easy to change to your favourite flavour.

Ingredients needed

  • Potato peelings
  • Choice of seasonings
Barbeque seasoningCajun seasoning
1 tablespoon paprika1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons chilli powder½ tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder½ tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper½ tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon coconut sugar½ tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt

  1. Preheat your oven to 200°C
  2. Gather your potato peelings and spread them on a baking tray
  3. Add your choice of seasoning
  4. Cook for 15-20 minutes
  5. Remove your potato peelings then add any additional toppings such as cheese 
  6. Throw them into a bowl and enjoy!

We’re big fans of upcycling our peelings as we often end up with too many peelings to compost them all. The only challenge now is having enough to share with the family!

Potatoes and potato peelings on chopping board

Broccoli stalks

We’re all guilty of this, chopping up the florets of our broccoli and discarding the stalks. They just don’t have the same impact on a Sunday roast dinner.

See Also
old food waste

Some people have been led to believe that this part of the vegetable isn’t edible, on the contrary, it’s the perfect part to upcycle into a tasty on-the-go snack. Grab your broccoli stalk and follow the recipe for a crunchy treat.

Ingredients needed

  • Broccoli stalks (peeled and cut into smaller rectangle ‘chip style’ pieces)
  • Olive oil
  • Seasonings (create your own or take some inspiration from our favourite

Ranch styleGarlic and herb
1 tablespoon dried parsley1 teaspoon oregano leaves
1 teaspoon garlic powder1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried dill¾ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon dried chives½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon black pepper2 tablespoons olive oil to drizzle
½ teaspoon sea salt
  1. Preheat your oven to 200°C
  2. Place your trimmed broccoli stalks on a tray lined with baking/parchment paper
  3. Drizzle olive oil over the broccoli
  4. Sprinkle your choice of seasonings
  5. Place your tray in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the stalks are starting to turn brown
  6. Allow them to cool before dipping in sauces

Upcycling broccoli stalks is such a great option because you can help get your 5-a-day as well as reduce waste and create something which suits your taste buds. Let us know what flavoursome creations you end up creating!

large broccoli stalk with a small floret towards the top

Upcycling carrot tops

Many of us are partial to a carrot. They’re a great addition to meal, plus they make a great healthy snack. One part we’re not fond of, is the leaf top, but did you know it hold a rich source of vitamins and can also be upcycled.

The next time you lob off your tops, consider trying out this pesto recipe. It makes a great addition to pastas, or try it on some carrot soup. For this recipe

Ingredients needed:

  • Carrot tops
  • Baby spinach (roughly 40g)
  • 1 clove of garlic chopped
  • Unsalted cashew nuts (60g)
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 110ml extra virgin olive oil
  1. Wash your carrot leaves thoroughly to ensure they’re clean
  2. Put all your ingredients, except for the oil in a blender
  3. Blend the ingredients and slowly add the oil until a smooth consistency is reached

If you’re not ready to test out our recipes yet, why not try some of the brands that are upcycling food and selling them in stores such as ReGrainedForager Project and The White Moustache.

Food upcycling has quickly become one of our favourite activities, and you can see why. It offers a great chance to reduce waste as well as creating something new in the kitchen, you can switch flavourings and always bring the freshest food to the party.

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