A lemon dessert recipe that puts the whole fruit to use

The statistics on food waste are staggering. We can all have a statistic that leaves us in disbelief. For me, it’s bread. In the UK, ...


The statistics on food waste are staggering. We can all have a statistic that leaves us in disbelief. For me, it’s bread.

In the UK, the amount of wasted bread stands at 1 million loaves, or 24 million slices, every day, according to the Office of National Statistics. Food waste in the United States accounts for 30 to 40 percent of the total food supply, according to the US Department of Agriculture. The numbers are overwhelming.

There is a lot to be done on a large scale. Much should be the responsibility of large food manufacturers and retailers. At the same time, there is a lot that we can do at home, on our own.

The first suggestion is practical: buy less food at a time. The second is more creative: use – and make full use of – what we already have. Now, using and fully utilizing are slightly different things, but both can be a huge source of inventiveness and delight. This is where fun, innovation and surprises come in.

“Use” simply means to use those last few bits. If the last slice (s) of bread seems a little sorry to themselves, don’t toss them! Blitz it instead! Prepare breadcrumbs for your next round of veggie cutlets. Or freeze the breadcrumbs for another time. Or use the day-long bread as a springboard for a whole new dish: Panzanella, Ribollita, romesco – a salad, a soup and a sauce whose very reason is the stale bread which inspired them.

“Making the most of” offers even more room for exploration. It means looking at the things we think we’ve used to their full potential and see if we can’t get one more use out of them. These are the vanilla pods added to a jar of sugar once the seeds have been scraped off, or the wilted herbs in the refrigerator that we mix with avocado and olive oil, for a green and lustrous vinaigrette by example.

If you have too much of something, turn it into something else. Labneh, for example, is simply yogurt hung over a sink for a day or two, in a clean tea towel or muslin, to allow the whey to drain off. The result can be rolled into balls, covered with olive oil and kept in the refrigerator for weeks. Or it can be used to make lemon possets: a classic British pudding made with just three ingredients: cream, lemon and sugar.

And so on until the only ingredient I can never overeat in my kitchen: lemons. I’m pretty good at using the whole lemon. I finely grate the zest, I greedily squeeze the juice, I carefully separate the segments. I drink it, I eat it, I live it, I love it.

Here, I burn and grind the zest for a burnt lemon powder that will be a source of pleasure and delight on any salads, puddings or grills it is sprinkled on.

Making burnt lemon powder isn’t going to reverse the trend of global food waste, I know that. But it’s a useful example of what we can get out of what we have, how much creative juices – citrus or otherwise – can flow if we get into the habit of checking ourselves before we throw things away.

As the saying goes, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade (and limoncello and burnt lemon powder and, of course, the most lemony of lemon possets). “

Recipe: Possets Lemon-Labneh With Meringue And Burnt Lemon Powder

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