Best Leftover Tricks and Tips from the Caribbean

Leftovers are inevitable, especially on Caribbean Sundays. We compensate for every rushed sandwich, extra dry lunch and watered down beverage (water bing-bing) that we unwillingly consumed during week with a lavish, well-thought out meal. But the truth is, life wasn’t always that extravagant and it was through these tight times, that the women in my family mastered the art of repurposing the slim leftovers, especially in the absence of electricity. I honestly think that they deserve to be on a best seller’s list somewhere. But they’re not, so the next best thing is to share all their secrets, right here in this post. This is how we never go hungry in the Caribbean!

Cou-Cou

Slice and Fry

Cou Cou, a Caribbean cornmeal pie, is great when freshly prepared but has a short shelf life due to its moist nature. However, if you refrigerate the remains over-night,  simply cut into medium slices while cold, and when it has returns to room-temperature, fry until the outside is a crispy golden brown. This was my grand-aunt’s go to everytime, and fried cou-cou tastes just as good, if not better.

Breadfruit and Root Tubers

Slice and fry as chips or mash with fresh seasoning and breadcrumbs for fritters

It’s not often that you have leftover steamed breadfruit but if you do, eating it fried the next day is something to look forward to. Throw in chives, garlic and a dash of black pepper, with some breadcrumbs and you’ll have some tasty fritters to take you into lunch time.

 

Garden Salads

Fried Rice or Fritters

Your salad is wilted and droopy! No, don’t throw it away. So long as it hasn’t soured and doesn’t have any dressing, add to fried rice or a fritter mix for a colourful, healthy addition to your next meal.

Rice and Noodles

Fried rice and Chow Mein

Fried rice and Chow Mein dishes are always better with a base that has been cooked ahead of time. In fact, Grenadians are very unsettled by plain, white rice. Whether it’s the addition of curry, homemade colouring or veggies, there is no way you serve us ordinary rice. So this suggestion, is a natural go to.

 Cacao Beans

As Tea

Very recently I discovered that there is a new definition of cocoa tea. Locally, this refers to what the world calls hot chocolate. That simply comes from granny asking, “Come and drink your tea for breakfast.” In those days, tea represented anything hot; black sage or lemongrass freshly picked from the garden, orange peel which sun dried on the window sill or cocoa tea made from home-made, hand-rolled cocoa balls. However, research shows that the cacao bean which remains in the shell after processing, can be ground and steeped in hot water to prepare actual tea. I wonder what my granny would think about this leftover tip?

 

Citrus Fruit Peels

Tea and Extracts

There is never a day in my kitchen without the presence of dried orange peels; especially when the season has just come to aclose. Aside from the traditional use of tea which allows you to access the hidden antioxidants, the dry peels can be ground into a fine powder and used in the baking of buns and sweet breads or steeped in a clear alcohol or vodka to prepare your very own citrus extract.

Cassava and Golden Apple

Starch and Meal

After grating cassava or golden apple, allow the juice to settle overnight. When you pour it off, transfer the accumulated starch to a large tray. Spread into a thin layer and allow to sun dry. Now you have natural starch to thicken your soups and gravies. Don’t throw away the grated meal either. This can be used in your baking or soups as additional fiber.

 

Bones

Soup

Caribbean soups are usually a heart mix of meats, dumplings or root tubers but don’t be surprised to find a ‘ham bone’ taste for the precise intention of adding a hidden layer of umami flavour. As a vegetarian, be sure to ask your chef whether or not they used a vegetable stock because this is another local go to.

 

Bread

Bread Pudding

2 day old bread is perfect for bread pudding. It’s the only kind of bread to use actually. Check out this tasty recipe from Caribbeanpot.com.

Bread Pudding with Custard Sauce at Belmont Estate

 

Oatmeal

If you have leftover oatmeal from breakfast, bulk up your smoothie or layer with fruit to create ‘instant’ overnight oats.

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Are there any methods of repurposing food that you use in your cooking that was handed down from the wise heads? Or maybe you have found new methods of your own? Please share in the comments below!

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