You Should Stop Throwing Away Your Cabbage Core. Here's Why

Zero-waste — and by extension, zero-waste cooking — is all the rage these days as conscientious consumers and cooks become more aware of how much trash they produce and attempt to refine their habits. While it can be very difficult to avoid the layers of plastic and paper that enrobe most consumer products, food waste is particularly egregious because it can almost always be avoided with a little due diligence. Sadly, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a whopping 30-40 percent of the U.S. food supply goes to waste — food that could be eaten by those in need, and whose production utilizes finite resources such as water, energy, and labor. 

We've all been guilty of going a little overboard at the farmers market, then coming home and stuffing the crisper drawer full of veggies and greens that, by the time we unearth them a week later, are well past their prime. It's not the end of the world, but it's also something to be aware of so that we can rein in shopping habits, buying only what we know we'll use. Another good way to cut down on food waste? Making sure to use every edible part of the produce we buy, a trend cheekily called root-to-stem cooking, echoing the terminology used by the growing nose-to-tail movement which seeks to utilize every part of the animals we eat, including the so-called "nasty bits," or offal.

Going root-to-stem with cabbage cores

We know we've been in the wrong by throwing away — or, at the very least, composting — parts of fruits and vegetables that are edible but which we simply don't know how to prepare — things like carrot tops, watermelon rinds, and broccoli stalks. But knowledge is power, and that's why we appreciated these tips from Epicurious, which detail all the ways you can cook with cabbage cores instead of throwing them away. 

One way to make use of a cabbage core? Peeling and shredding it, then including it in a salad or coleslaw. You can also pickle slices of the core with a basic brine, yielding a crunchy snack or an excellent topper for sandwiches and burgers. Making a puréed veggie soup? Toss your trimmed cabbage core into your pot of simmering vegetables; it will become tender enough to blend right in. Finally, there's the age-old method of dealing with food scraps of any kind: tossing them in a batter and deep-frying them.

So the next time you're craving some tempura, don't forget about that cabbage core kicking around, neglected, in your fridge.