Cooking usually results in many bi-products which are often poured down the drain or thrown in the bin. In fact, many liquids can actually be a great addition to other dishes! Here are 10 cooking liquids you shouldn’t throw away, and what they can be used for instead:
1. Pasta Water
Pasta water is probably one of the most underrated cooking liquids out there, and true chefs would never just drain their pasta water down the sink! Use the starch-filled water to make your pasta sauce even thicker and silkier.
Keep a little of the pasta water aside and then, when you are adding your pasta to your sauce, add in a little of the water too. It will help everything blend together and give a beautiful silky feel to your sauce. Many Italian dishes rely on this pasta water to create the sauce, such as Cacio e Pepe, where the pasta water is used as the base for the cheesy, peppery sauce.
2. Pickle Juice
Pickle brine is another useful liquid that is usually thrown away. The brine is usually a combination of vinegar, sugar, salt and some delicious spices, which can be used in vinaigrettes, marinades or to add depth to a range of salads. Pickle juice is also used as a hangover cure! It sounds a little gross but, in fact, drinking a quarter cup of juice can help replenish the salts lost during a heavy night of drinking.
3. Leftover Coffee
Next time you go to throw away your leftover coffee, think again! If it hasn’t been mixed with cream or milk, it can be used for many other things, such as added to a chocolatey dessert for extra richness or even in a marinade. Coffee has so many bitter and nutty flavors that can complement a range of both savory and sweet dishes.
4. Vegetable Water
Boiling vegetables is not the best way to eat them, as a lot of the valuable minerals and vitamins leech out into the water. But if you do end up boiling them, their valuable water can be recycled in soups, sauces and stock to give dishes an extra boost of flavor and health. Also, the nutrient-filled vegetable water makes a great fertilizer for your plants.
5. Bacon Grease
The grease left behind from cooking bacon is as good as gold when it comes to leftover cooking liquid. It can be used to add extra flavor to many dishes. Drain the fat after cooking bacon and keep it in the fridge to use later. It works great as a substitute for butter when frying other items or add it to roast meat or vegetables for that bacon-y taste!
6. Chickpea Water aka. Aquafaba
Canned chickpeas usually sit in a thick and creamy liquid called aquafaba. Although people often drain out this water or juice, it’s actually perfect for vegan cooking. Aquafaba can be used as a replacement for egg whites because of the starch and protein content. Use it in recipes for cookies, cakes, meringues and even mayonnaise! Additionally, due to their high starch content, the chickpea water can be used to thicken sauces and stews, much like pasta water.
7. Duck Fat
Next time you make a roast duck, remember to save all the delicious fat- it’s super useful for cooking other dishes. Duck fat is the best way to upgrade roast potatoes, and people often go out of their way to buy it for that reason alone. If you’re enjoying a roast duck at home, drain off the fat and then store in the fridge. It can be later be used to sear meat, sauté vegetables and make a confit. Yum!
8. Canned Fish Juice
The juice used to preserve fish can be used to spice up many dishes. It can be added to a Caesar salad to give an extra fishy punch or use it as a replacement for fish oil in Asian-inspired dishes. You can even give a little fish juice to your pets-- they’ll go crazy for it!
9. Roast Meat Juices
Instead of reaching for the instant gravy granules to complete your roast dinner, drain the juices released from your roast meat and reduce it over the stove top to create an even more delicious and homemade gravy. Alternatively, save the juices and add them to water, along with the bones of the dish, to create an incredible meaty and tasty stock.
10. Egg Yolks or Whites
Oftentimes, a recipe will call for just egg whites, or yolks, which leaves you with the other part of the egg leftover. Both the yolk and the white can be kept in the fridge for up to two days and have many uses! Egg whites can be made into meringues, royal icing, or chocolate mousse while egg yolks can be made into a carbonara, mayonnaise or custard.
Maximize your food by saving all the great cooking liquids left behind! As you can see, they can add flavor, reduce waste, and can even fertilize your plants!