Editor’s note: We all know that cutting down on food waste is both responsible and economical. But where does one start? As part of their recent Food Waste Challenge, San Francisco-based grocery Bi-Rite Market polled their online audience to find out what they wasted most. The following are the top four foods, with some recipes and tips compiled by the store’s staff.

Fresh herbs

“Whole bunches of herbs are a challenge. Except for basil, when making pesto, or parsley, I end up drying the rest when I’d really rather have fresh herbs.” –Carrie

I certainly have troubles with herbs as well! They seem to go to waste, as I can never finish using them all.” –Kelly

Slime usually affects cilantro that I do not use fast enough — the stems will slime over whether I keep it in water or in plastic.” –Sharyn

Staff recipe: Catch-all Cilantro Sauce
by Alli Ball, grocery department

1 cup cilantro
2 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno
½ cup walnuts
1/3 cup lemon juice
¼ tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. black pepper.

Combine the above ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth: Add up to ¼ cup water to thin to desired consistency. Serve on chicken, fish, Indian food, as a veggie dip, etc.

Tips

  • Throw whatever herbs you have laying around into a bunch of eggs with cream or cheese of some sort (chevre goes especially well with fresh herbs) and you have the makings of a herb frittata.
  • To save herbs for later use, freeze them in ice cubes, or dry them by hanging them up against a sunny windowsill or putting them on a sheet in a low-temp oven.
  • Throw herbs on the brink of going bad into a container in the freezer along with chicken bones, cheese rinds, and other stock-ready ingredients.
Photo by Luce Beaulieu.

Citrus

Most attrition around our house is due to mold and slime. Mold [comes] most often in the form of citrus fruits that have sat too long in the damp climate and on cheeses that are a little past their prime.” –Sharyn

“For those who throw out citrus, when I have too much, I press and freeze the juice and defrost when I have a friend coming over for cocktails.” –Laura

Staff recipe: Any Citrus Curd
Alli Ball, grocery department

Yield: 3 cups

3 lemons or limes or 1 grapefruit (for zest)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
4 extra-large eggs
1/2 cup citrus juice (lemon/lime/grapefruit)
1/8 tsp. kosher salt

1. Carefully remove peel from citrus, avoiding bitter white pith. Put zest in food processor, add sugar, and pulse to a finely minced zest.

2. Cream butter and beat in sugar-citrus mixture. Add eggs, one at a time. Add citrus juice and salt. Mix until combined.

3. Pour into 2-quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. Curd will thicken just before it simmers so don’t let it boil. Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate.

4. Serve on toast, dollop on yogurt, or pour into pre-baked shortbread crust for a pretty tart.

Tips

  • Remember: Citrus is a versatile acid. Replace vinegar with a squeeze of lemon juice on cooked greens, put an orange in your next chicken before roasting, or brighten your curry with a squeeze of lime.
  • Have too much? Make your own candied citrus peel and give it as a gift!

Sour cream

Photo by Elli Pálma.

“I only buy it when a recipe calls for it, but it isn’t offered in small containers, so I always end up throwing out the rest of the container.” –Daria

“I’m with you, I’d never use the whole container of sour cream. ” –Rachael

Staff recipe: Saturday Sour Cream Griddle Cakes
by Steffan Morin, store manager

Yield: 10-12 four-inch pancakes

7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/ 2 tsp. salt
1 cup sour cream
2 large eggs, separated
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Butter
Maple syrup (grade B, baby!)

1. Heat a cast iron skillet or griddle over medium-low heat; you want it to slowly get nice and hot.

2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt together in the bottom of a medium bowl. Dump the sour cream in on top and stir it together very gently; it’s okay to leave the texture a bit uneven.

3. Beat egg whites to stiff peaks. Whisk the egg yolks and vanilla in a separate bowl and stir them into the sour cream mixture, once again being careful not to over mix. Gently fold in egg whites.

4. Melt about a tablespoon of butter in the skillet or griddle and pour the batter in, a scant 1/4 cup at a time. Cook for about two minutes on the first side, or until bubbles appear all over the surface, then flip them carefully and cook for about a minute on the other side. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve in a stack, topped with a pat of butter and a cascade of maple syrup.

Tips

  • Make an anytime, anywhere dip, also great for using up leftover herbs: Mix herbs, lemon juice, salt, and sour cream to taste to make a fast, fresh dip, perfect for veggies, pita chips, or falafel. Try the fresh dill, mint, and lemon juice combo.
  • Super nachos: Use up your sour cream, herbs (cilantro, chives), and citrus (squeeze of lime!) in one fell swoop.
  • Tangy chicken salad: Mix in sour cream instead of mayo when making your next chicken salad (with leftover roasted chicken, herbs, and celery!).
  • Add a dollop to your next bowl of soup for a little creamy zing. Sour cream isn’t just for chili.

Celery

“I have never used more than a few stalks of celery out of a bunch before it goes bad.” –Tony

“Definitely celery. I freeze veggie scraps for future broth/soup making, but too often, they appear freezer-burned by the time I am ready to make my soup.” –Emily

“Celery tops are also a challenge … you certainly can’t use so much in stocks because it is a dominant flavor. A celery bunch can be stored in the fridge by putting the root end in a wide-mouthed jar with an inch of water and tent the top with a plastic bag.” –Carrie Rose

Staff recipe: Celery Leaf Salad with Blue Cheese, Belgian Endive, and Citrus
by Kirsten Bourne, marketing department

2 Belgian endive heads (or other chicory), chopped
1 cup celery leaves, chopped
2 oz. crumbled blue cheese
¼ cup toasted and chopped walnuts
¼ cup orange juice
¾ cup olive oil
¼ tsp. sugar or honey
Salt and pepper

1. Mix endive and celery leaves, reserving a few celery leaves for garnish.

2. Shake together orange juice and sugar. Whisk in olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Pour ½ of dressing over celery and endive, reserving the rest for another salad later that week. Mix well with hands.

3. Place walnuts, cheese, and reserved celery leaves on top. Serve with roasted chicken, farro salad, or a really awesome burger.

Tips

  • Don’t forget about ants on a log, the all-American snack! Smear peanut butter on a celery stick, top with a line of raisins, and eat those ants before they walk off!
  • Mark Bittman’s article from this week’s New York Times features 16 celery recipes.