Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Another Day in the (Rather Long Countdown to the) Zero Waste Kitchen
Here is a little update on our reducing plastic packaging project. Sometimes, when we're good, we're very, very good, but sometimes we're just not...
I have discovered this - it takes a reasonable amount of organisation and forward planning to keep a family fed and watered, even when you shop at the nearest supermarket and are happy to have plastic bags coming out of your ears. If you want to do something different, it takes extreme organisation, a character trait I do not possess. I cannot tell you the number of times I have left the house without my calico bags for collecting bread from the bakery, or not planned sufficiently for all the dinner ingredients, and I can tell you this - the bulk bin wonderland that is our wholefood shop, or the local butcher, are not open at 6.30pm when you realise there is nothing for dinner, or you need cous cous, so calling The Man to pick things up as he swings by to pick up a child from ballet on the way home from work inevitably means plastic packaging.
So menu planning is high on my list of priorities to be more...consistent about.
There have been some good moments though. Above on the right is our old butter packaging. On the left - a giant 2.4kg pack of the best local farmhouse spring butter, yellow as primroses, buttercups and daffodils. Discovered it in the fridge at the whole foods shop. Posy found the butter dish when she was rummaging through the 'granny crockery' cupboard, and insisted that we use it, like people in 'the old days'. We are storing the butter dish in the cupboard, and the butter is spreading beautifully, and tasting divine. I'm not sure whether to keep the 'mother lode' in the fridge, or freeze it. Its use-by date is December, and we will definitely get through it by then, but I don't want it to start tasting like whatever it sits next to in the fridge..
I've been very good and cut up this week's celery and stored it in airtight containers instead of an old plastic bag.
Posy is happy because now she can help herself to her favourite afternoon snack of celery dipped in peanut butter, instead of waiting for me to hack a bit off the side of the bunch and cut it up for her.
I may have linked to this before, but here is a wildly advanced zero waste family's refrigerator interior, photo at the bottom of the post. I love the celery sticks in the jar, so neat, although I am more of a bulk-buy girl myself. The salad mixes in the tall jars are a clever idea. But why isn't their fridge full of left overs and bottles of beer. Or is that just me?
Now the bread. When I first started buying plastic-free loaves, I was storing them in a big plastic container, but that wasn't very flexible. Now I use a hippy-tie-dyed calico bag which can fit a couple of any-shaped loaves at a time. I find that as long as I fold the bag down firmly over the cut surface it stays fresh. Also, we use about a loaf a day, so if you would use less, freezing half a loaf might be an idea.
I had no idea how I was going to freeze bread without using a plastic bag. For a while there I bought bread every day from the local shop. Then I read that Bea from Zero Waste Home uses a pillow case to freeze her fortnight of baguettes. Mad, I thought, they'd go stale. But it works! A whole loaf freezes beautifully in cloth! I didn't have a spare pillowcase, but I had plenty of the old Coles calico bags. I did think of sewing patches over the Coles logo, but, well, the sewing fairy hasn't visited recently.
Here are four loaves in two bags, just folded over at the top. Now I can't guarantee how long these will freeze nicely for. I haven't kept them for more than a week. I imagine freezer burn would set in eventually.
Of course, the thing you can't do if you aren't using plastic, is to buy a pre-sliced loaf. It will fall apart in your calico bag, and then go stale. The breadknife is our new best friend, and we are learning to cut sort-of straight slices. No, that's a lie. We are learning to eat very odd-shaped slices of bread. The bread is much sturdier, yummier, locally baked, and better for us. But decidedly odd-shaped.