Tips for a greener Christmas dinner
The festive season is one for indulgence – from family time and cheesy films, to gifts and of course food. But something that we can cut down on, without compromising the fun, is our impact on the environment and the amount of energy we consume.
As he’s something of an expert on food, we asked our development chef, Clive Goudercourt, for his tips for using less energy and being more environmentally friendly in the kitchen over the Christmas period. Here are his top tips for a greener Christmas dinner:
134 of our places have been given the Soil Association’s Bronze Food for Life Catering Mark. This means the ingredients we use are seasonal, grown with care for the environment and have high welfare standards.
When shopping for your Christmas dinner, shop in season and look closely at the labels to check you’re buying British and from farms which satisfy UK welfare standards.
Many of our places also host farmers’ markets and sell produce direct from our tenant farmers. Giving you the perfect chance to have a chat about how their produce has been grown, raised and reared.
Cooking your turkey
Consider carefully the size of turkey you actually need. A crown or butterfly might be sufficient – 2.5kg (6lb) is more than enough for six people. Cooking at 180C for 20 minutes per 450g (1lb) plus 20 minutes is sufficient. This means you should be able to cook your turkey in around 2 ½ hours.
Use seasonal ingredients
Always look to use seasonal British produce where you can. Winter vegetables like squash and mushrooms can make a simple but hearty vegetarian dish.
Cooking stuffed squash: Cut a squash in half along its length, scoop out the seeds and a little flesh. Mix the removed squash flesh with chopped onion, parsley, thyme, garlic, grated carrot, a sprinkle of pine nuts, salt and pepper. Spoon into the squash, drizzle with cold-pressed rapeseed oil then wrap in foil and bake for an hour. Remove the foil, add crumbled goats cheese then bake for a further 10 minutes.
Buying fresh produce from a local market supports UK producers and has significantly less food miles. You could grow your own herbs, rosemary, thyme and sage too.
Top tip: Swap olive oil for extra virgin cold-pressed rapeseed oil and if you’re having cheeses, choose British varieties (Cheddar, Stilton, Cornish Brie), rather than imported varieties.
Buy less and compost more
Compost your food peelings and buy the fruit and vegetables you need loose rather than in plastic bags to reduce your waste. Sometimes a large pack of something looks good value but if you only use half of it before it’s out of date then it isn’t.
Get everything out at once
Be prepared. Make sure all your vegetables are prepped in advance and you have everything to hand. Get all your ingredients out of the fridge at the same time rather than opening the door multiple times. This will save energy – yours and the fridge’s.
Roast those greens
Rather than boiling your vegetables, try roasting them instead. This means less pans and boiling water on the hob and they can be put in the oven with your turkey.
Recipe alert: Chop carrots, parsnips, swede, leek, celery and red onions into equal sized pieces, drizzle with rapeseed oil, salt and pepper and throw in a sprig of rosemary and thyme. Roast in the oven for around 45 minutes, then remove and drizzle with a couple of spoons of honey to finish. Delicious!
Put a lid on it
If you’re boiling anything, put lids on your pans to help keep heat in and reduce energy. You’ll create less steam so you can put your extraction unit on a lower setting too. When you have finished boiling your vegetables, you can use the water left in the pan for your gravy rather than boiling fresh; this saves water, heat and vitamins.
Spruce up your sprouts
Stir fry sprouts rather than boiling them. Chop chorizo and place in your frying pan with a drizzle of oil, add flaked almonds and shredded sprouts, a twist of salt and pepper. Then stir fry for 2-3 minutes and serve.
Top tip: Buy sprouts on the stalk rather than in bags, they keep for a lot longer.
And for desserts… microwave your pudding
Microwave your Christmas pudding rather than steaming it. Done correctly, the quality of the pudding will still be great and an average pudding is cooked in 3 minutes rather than 2 hours on the hob.
A greener New Year
Our energy partner Good Energy is helping us use renewable energy instead of oil to keep some of our special places warm this Christmas - reducing our environmental impact as well as our heating bills. They also provide their own customers with 100% renewable electricity from natural sources such as sunshine, wind and rain. Why not make switching to a cleaner energy provider one of your New Year’s resolutions?