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Turning stale bread into ice-cream won’t save the world – but won’t do any harm, either

The Guardian logo The Guardian 16/01/2019 Morwenna Ferrier
Plate of traditional beetroot borscht soup with sour cream and fresh coriander served with garlic bread buns pampushka with blue textile over dark blue texture background. Top view, space. (Photo by: Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/UIG via Getty Images) © Getty Plate of traditional beetroot borscht soup with sour cream and fresh coriander served with garlic bread buns pampushka with blue textile over dark blue texture background. Top view, space. (Photo by: Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/UIG via Getty Images)

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

At the beginning of the year, the UK government appointed a waste tsar. The idea would be for this chap – businessman Ben Elliott who happens to be a nephew of the Duchess of Cornwall – to end any waste going to landfills by 2030, manage the government’s £15m food waste fund and redistribute any surplus food.

We waste a stunning 10.2m tonnes of food each year, so it’s a fine idea on paper. Don’t hold your breath, though. In 2010, the then Tory-led coalition government made the ironic choice of appointing Philip Green as its efficiency tsar. We’re probably better off having a go ourselves.

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Variety loaves of sliced homemade rye bread whole grain and seeds over gray texture background. Top view. copy space. Healthy eating. (Photo by: Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/UIG via Getty Images) © Getty Variety loaves of sliced homemade rye bread whole grain and seeds over gray texture background. Top view. copy space. Healthy eating. (Photo by: Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/UIG via Getty Images) Upcycling wasted food is an excellent place to start, and, thankfully, a small but steady movement of chefs is already having a go, turning kitchen waste into something new, the most appealing of which is uneaten bread made into ice-cream. Savoury ice-creams are not new – I started this column a year ago with a paean to stilton and Twiglet ice-cream, and AB Marshall, author of The Book of Ices, was making asparagus ice-cream in the late 19th century – but the focus here is more on the environment than anything culinary.

Alex Bond runs Alchemilla, a restaurant in Nottingham. The clue is in the name; Alex, I’m told, hates waste, and has started mixing chunks of stale sourdough with butter molasses (made with leftover homemade churned butter) and a little coffee, and then freezing it. You can imagine the colour, but taste-wise it’s memorably creamy, with a malty base and a sweet and slightly yeasty finish. At the Oriental Club in London, chef Wesley Smalley has a similar trick, soaking leftover peshwari naan in milk, and turning it into ice-cream. It’s a little low on spice, but otherwise straddles the sweet and the savoury, and is equally great. Neither ice-cream is pretty, but, given almost every food trend is hinged around Instagram, it’s an ugly relief.

Upcycling food waste on a micro scale is hardly an act of guerrilla activism, but it is worth pointing out that ethical consumption can be expensive. Caring has a tax (ask any vegan) and freeganism – dumpster diving which has an anti-capitalist, environmental edge – can be dangerous. By contrast, turning stale, uneaten bread into ice-cream, is doable and safe. Mrs Beeton made it, and so did my mum.

Generally speaking, I go to great lengths to avoid wasting food. I once wrote about all the food I had frozen and forgotten, and just now rustled up a soup using all the old root veg in my fridge, the remnants of Friday’s curry, half a gyoza and a pot of anchovies, which I quickly scooped back out using my fingers because they went off before Christmas. If I die after eating this, at least I’ll die an environmental hero.

Gallery: 20 Easy Plant-Based Dessert Recipes [PureWow]

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