How to Eat Apples Nose to Tail

At the farmer’s market this past Sunday, my daughter MK bought not-so pretty apples to bake pies for the meal she would prepare Monday in our community kitchen. She also suggested I write a blog post about uglies (she’s a smart one!). At $1 per pound for these cosmetically challenged apples—compared to $2.75 per pound for unblemished ones—she found the best price and flavor possible. These apples came from one of our favorite vendors, Prevedelli Farms, an organic local farm just south of us in Watsonville.

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According to the NRDC (Natural Resource Defense Council):

  • 40 percent of food goes to waste in the US
  • Wasted food rotting in landfill accounts for 25 percent of US methane emissions
  • Wasted food squanders 25 percent of all US freshwater
  • 1 in 6 Americans is food insecure (I’ve read higher numbers for the über wealthy Bay Area where I live)
  • A mere 15 percent of this food could feed 25 million Americans every year

What does an obscene amount of food waste look like? Watch the short Sundance-winning short documentary below, Man in the Maze, to find out. It’s well worth the short eight minutes.

Some of this food goes to waste merely because grocery stores refuse to carry produce that doesn’t meet their rigid cosmetic standards. Here are a few things you can do to address this bizarre state of affairs:

  1. Sign the #WhatTheFork petition, asking Walmart and Whole Foods to carry ugly produce. The petition had over 100,000 signatures at the time I wrote this post.
  2. Check the Ugly Fruit and Veg Directory to find a grocery store near you that carries uglies. If you know of one missing from the list, please submit it to the directory.
  3. Hunt for uglies when you shop at the farmer’s market and grocery store. Send your pics to @UglyFruitAndVeg on Twitter.

In addition to taking these steps, I did my part Monday and devoured lots of pie 😉

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I intended to include MK’s recipe in this post, but when I asked her for it, she sent me only this:

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Which brings me to another point I make regularly on my blog: don’t feel you have to strictly follow recipes. Instead, try to use up what you have on hand in order to reduce food waste. You’ll also save time and money.

But wait…there’s more!

jar of peels and cores

I asked MK to save all the apple peels and cores in one of my big glass jars. I added a tablespoon of sugar, filled the jar with water and now have homemade scrap vinegar brewing away. The vinegar will be ready to strain in about 10 days or so. It started bubbling (i.e., fermenting) on day two. You can find my detailed post on scrap vinegar here.

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Secure a cloth over your jar of scrap vinegar to keep out nasties
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Scrap vinegar bubbling away

And that’s how you eat apples nose to tail.

22 Comment

  1. I love all the connections you make in this post, and I might borrow the film (crediting you of course) 🙂 I’ve been lazy with the (half-rotted) apples and have been juicing them, then making kvass with the pulp: https://kitchencounterculture121.wordpress.com/2015/10/07/app/ Apples are such a gift! Take care, xxxAnnie

    1. Thank you Annie. It’s such a powerful short film. What a crazy system we have (or lack thereof…). Your kvass looks fantastic. Thanks for the link 🙂

  2. I order bushels of ‘cider apples’ from a local orchard this time of year to make pies, jam and applesauce and just to have. Buying in bulk, I get them for practically pennies a pound. Unlike tomatoes or peaches, they will sit patiently, allowing me to take my time in dealing with them, which makes me love apples that much more. Unfortunately, there is a burgeoning cider industry here, so I have competition for those apples!

    1. That sounds like so much fun, Becky. You’re right, apples do keep for a while. I’m getting a pile of tomatoes on Saturday and will have to process those immediately. I hope the cider producers don’t squeeze you out 🙂

      1. Not all the orchards around here sell seconds anymore, but I definitely have my in so I can get them. My last fall bushel last year made it all the way through to March before I turned it into pie!

  3. Perfect timing—I’m making apple pie this weekend and was trying to figure out what to do with my apples peels and cores so they don’t go to waste. Last time I baked the peels on a low temp and got some kind of experimental crisp, but I wanted to try something different with it this time. Thanks 🙂 Hope all is well with you!

    1. Hi Chris. I was sure I replied to this…sorry if I’m repeating myself. Your crisps sound yummy. After I posted this blog, a couple of people on Facebook (or maybe it was Instagram…) said they had made apple jelly with the peels. I’ll have to try that next. I bet your pie was delicious. I hope all is well with you too 🙂

  4. You are so right to shine a spotlight on the food waste issue Anne Marie. I love shoppping the “seconds” or “blemished” bins at our farmers market. Since I’m using the apples to make sauce or pie, it’s a no-brainer to simply cut out any bruised spots, and, as you point out, I save significantly on the very same organic fruit selling unblemished for $2-$3 more by the same vendor. As a culture, we have to dispose of the myth that visual “perfection” be it fruit or otherwise, is highly overrated. Lets toss that myth in the landfill instead of all the food!!!

    1. Hi Karen. Sorry for the slow response…I love that: “Lets toss that myth in the landfill instead of all the food!!!” Settling for nothing less than perfection really gets us into a lot of trouble! I think you just inspired me to write a new post… Thank you and have a great weekend!

  5. You are awesome Anne Marie! Is it okay to use bruised bits of peel in the vinegar?

    Madeleine.x

    1. Oh sure Madeleine. I have used apples way past their prime for this. That’s the beauty of it!

  6. This is a great post! I get seconds too, all the better to make jam, jelly and myriad of other things. We should not be so picky of what fruit looks like, as you stated there are people starving in our neighborhoods and some folks are worried about a blemish free piece of fruit. Thanks for sharing this mindful article!

    1. Thanks so much! I just bought some ugly tomatoes on the weekend and I can’t figure out what makes them ugly! They taste delicious. I agree, we shouldn’t be so picky! Thanks for checking out my post 🙂

  7. I love it! I think I’ll reboot your post, is excellent because I can never get tired to give facts and figures that food waste leaves because of the “ugly” produce than don’t get to the supermarkets, and like you said, the flavor is nice!

    Thank you for sharing! I will try this method next time I buy a bulk of apples from the market 💚

    1. Thanks so much 🙂 The stats are simply stunning! I couldn’t believe it when I first heard we waste 40% of our food! It’s nuts! I bought ugly tomatoes yesterday. I wish more vendors would offer ugly produce. It’s all delicious!

    2. The stats on food waste are pretty stunning! Thanks so much for reblogging the post and enjoy hunting for your uglies 🙂

  8. Really useful tips as usual, Anne Marie! I’ve been pickling my ugly veggies and getting way more use out of them instead of just trimming and cooking. I look forward to making some vinegar, too!

    1. Thanks Lori 🙂 The vinegar is really awesome. I was so thrilled to figure out how to make it. I’ll never buy the stuff again!

  9. […] Originally article by The Zero-Waste Chef […]

  10. Wow, your “ugly” apples look like our “normal” apples! They come from a local organic farm where we have a CSA share. They use a clay spray to protect them from bugs, and it leaves a gray haze (which can be scrubbed off with a brush, but it’s harmless to eat) over the often lumpy and blemished fruit. But they taste great!

    Two years ago, we picked several pounds of apples growing on a neglected property and enjoyed a lot of pies and bowls of cooked apples with yogurt! It doesn’t matter what they look like when you’re going to cut them up and cook them. I was glad my son was so involved in that project; I think he’s been less picky about the appearance of our farm’s apples since then.

    1. Ooops, sorry I’m so slow Becca. Your comment slipped through the cracks! Sometimes I buy uglies and can’t really figure out what makes them ugly. But I am happy to pay nearly 1/3 of the price of the “perfect” apples. That’s great your son was with you for that lesson. So many kids think apples come from the store. And that they all look the same and have no blemishes!

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