Scrappy Kitchen: Using Ends, Peels, & Stems (Strawberry Top and Herb Stem Soda & Kombucha; Buttermilk Lemon Rind Scones)

Recently I was slicing off the tops of our precious (price and flavor wise!) Harry’s Barry’s Gaviota Strawberries, and lamented throwing away even the tops with .000005 oz. of fruit attached.   I thought to myself, “there must be a way to use even this tiny bit of flavor.”  So I tossed them in the blender with a bit of water and added the puree to my homemade soda (unstrained) and kombucha (strained).  I had some herbs in the crisper that were mostly stem, too, so I put them to use in a similar manner.  The resulting drinks were so unique, fresh and flavorful that I had to share!


You may recall my post on carrot tops, another kitchen scrap that probably gets tossed in the majority of kitchens.  They make an earthy pesto that I discovered can be made with other veggie tops:  beet greens, celery leaf, fennel frond . . . you get the idea.  You can change up the nuts, oils, acid, and cheeses to your liking.  You’ll empower your creative cooking muscle and feel as resourceful as your pioneer/homesteading great grandmother.

With baking goods, you can use fruit scraps and herb stems to create a glaze for scones, donuts, or as a life-extender for your dreary marmalade.  It won’t be your mother’s marmalade, but it will be jazzy and fun.

If you want to make kombucha, roll your sleeves up and try this recipe, then at the flavoring stage add your strained strawberry tops and proceed as normal with the recipe.  For homemade soda, do the same.

For a nice change to your glazed scones, try this recipe below which I created with buttermilk (another thrifty creation . . . another recipe for another day), lemon rind, yuzu powder and herbs:


2/3 cup sugar or honey

1 – 2 tablespoons zest (grapefruit, lemon, or orange)
4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 cup cold butter
2 large eggs, plus an extra for the egg wash
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup citrus juice (grapefruit, lemon, or orange)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

small handful of rosemary or lavender


1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup water

1/2 cup yuzu powder, sifted (Note:  I substituted yuzu for 2 cups of powdered sugar)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 lemon rind


In a small bowl, combine the sugar and zest. Rub the zest and sugar together with your fingers to release the oils.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, zest, and poppy seeds. Cut the butter into the flour mixture. Set aside.
In a smaller bowl, combine the 2 eggs, buttermilk, citrus juice, and vanilla. Whisk until well combined. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, pour in the egg mixture and stir until it comes together. Whisk the additional egg in a small bowl combined with 1 tablespoon water. Set aside.
Turn out on a lightly floured counter and knead a few times until it holds it’s shape. Divide into two equal portions (a kitchen scale helps with this) and roll into an 8 or 9 inch circle. Dust the bottom of the circles with flour.
Cut each circle into 6 or 8 triangles. Place the triangles on a parchment lined baking sheet. Lightly brush with the egg wash, then bake for 15-25 minutes at 350 degrees F, or until golden and cooked through.  Cool on a wire rack and glaze.  Top with herbs.

Make the lemon glaze in a double boiler, or for a simpler alternative, you can zap it in the microwave. First puree the lemon rind with the water and honey.  Mix in lemon juice with the yuzu until dissolved in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water for the double-boiler method, or in a microwave-safe bowl. Whisk in the butter and lemon zest. Either nuke the glaze for 30 seconds or continue whisking in the double boiler. Whisk the glaze to smooth out any lumps, then drizzle the glaze over the top of the scones. Let it set a minute before serving.




11 Comments on “Scrappy Kitchen: Using Ends, Peels, & Stems (Strawberry Top and Herb Stem Soda & Kombucha; Buttermilk Lemon Rind Scones)

  1. These are my kind of recipes. I grow fennel and sometimes have trouble using up all the fennely bits – pesto would be a great solution. I also use scraps – sometimes to a fault. When I finished my dandelion bug I used the bits of root in a stir-fry, which was delicious, but then I realized I could have saved them as a base for a new bug. Anyway, love all your ideas. Thanks.

    • Thanks Hilda, I know this is right up your alley. One thing I discovered recently is making a fennel syrup to flavor lemon soda — the combo of lemon, fennel and sparkling is so refreshing! I hate throwing away all my fennel fronds and now I won’t have to.

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