Did you know that you can give your vegetable scraps a second life before throwing them in the compost? It’s possible! Some veggies regrow easily with a little water, sun and love. Among them, you’ll find lettuce, bok choy, celery, green onions, leeks, avocado, fennel and garlic.
The 4 steps necessary for regrowing vegetables
The steps to regrow each of these vegetables are fairly similar:
- Put the vegetable’s core or stem in a little bowl of water
- Put the bowl in a sunny spot
- Change the water regularly, every day if possible
- After awhile, you’ll start to see shoots appear
As a general rule, these 4 steps must be repeated for each vegetable, but some of them like avocado, require a few extra steps. That’s why, for best results, you should read the instructions for each veggie to understand its particularities.
8 veggies that regrow easily
We’ve tested them for you! For 2 weeks, we regrew these 8 veggies at home ourselves. In the pictures, you can see the regrowth development after 2, 7 and 14 days.
For each veggie, the level of difficulty and growing time are indicated. Growing time corresponds to the time needed before you can eat the first shoots. However, the longer you wait, the more shoots you’ll have!
So here’s our what we experienced and a little advice for you to easily regrow your own vegetables at home.
Level of difficulty: easy
Growing time: 10-12 days
Save the heart of your lettuce, meaning the white base, then put it in a bowl with a little water. Keep the bowl in a sunny spot and change the water regularly to help the shoots grow. After a few days, you’ll start to see little shoots. After a few weeks, you’ll be able to enjoy your new lettuce shoots.
In our case, the lettuce started sprouting from the start, then its growth quickly stagnated. At the end of the second week of testing, the shoot was 1.5 to 2 inches long.
Our favourite recipe with lettuce
This warm potato and grilled lettuce salad is simple to make and absolutely delicious. It can easily be enjoyed as a main meal or served as a side to a main.
With your lettuce shoots, you probably won’t be able to make this recipe because there won’t be enough leaves. However, you can buy a lettuce, use the large leaves to prepare this recipe, keep the core to regrow the lettuce, then use the baby leaves in a sandwich, for example.
Level of difficulty: easy
Growing tie: 12-14 days
Like lettuce, bok choy, also called Chinese cabbage, can be easily regrown from its stem. Following the same 4 steps, put the veggie in a bowl with a little water in the sun and wait to see the first shoots appear at the end of the first week. Don’t forget to change the water as often as possible.
Unlike lettuce, the first shoots of our bok choy took longer to appear, but they quickly gained steam. After the first test week, 4 or 5 beautiful leaves started to grow. To get even better results, you can let your bok choy grow as big as you want. The only inconvenience: in the last days of our trial, the outer walls the bok choy’s core started to rot and the water became gummy. We recommend changing the water every day so the bok choy doesn’t deteriorate like ours did after 14 days.
Our favourite recipe with bok choy
Stir-fried sesame baby bok choy by Epicurious
With its Asian side, this recipe is perfect to serve as a main or a side. Stir-fried with ginger, the bok choy is crispy and tender at the same time. It goes really well with garlic and sesame. You can even add it to a salad if you’d like.
Level of difficulty: moderate
Growing time: more than 10 days
When you cut the celery, keep the base and put it in a bowl with a little water without submerging the rest of the celery. You also have to put it in a sunny spot and change the water regularly to avoid mould. When the shoots appear, you can use a spray bottle to gently mist the plant every two days. The tiny yellow leaves around the base will thicken and become dark green.
When we did our test, the first few celery sprouts appeared only in the second week. However, they grew quickly afterwards and despite the celery’s slow growth, provided a pretty good yield at the end of the second week. We then kept the plant a little longer after the test and it grew to a good 2 to 2.5 inches in height with several nice stems. So don’t lose patience, it just takes a little more time.
Our favourite recipe with celery
Celery adds a lot of flavour to many recipes and that’s totally the case here! This vegetable Sloppy Joe recipe is made with the Arctic Gardens Chinese macaroni mix and contains celery, carrots, green peppers, onions, red peppers and mushrooms. You’ll love this rich recipe that’ll make you want to add celery to your other recipes.
Level of difficulty: easy
Growing time: 5-7 days
Green onions are one of the veggies that are easy to regrow. In fact, always with a little water to cover the roots and in the sun, they’ll grow quickly and achieve their normal size in as little as 2 weeks. So you’ll see new green onions that you can regrow forever!
The pics speak for themselves. After the 2-week trial, our green onions had already grown really long. For the sake of consistency, we’d put the small green onions in a bowl as we did for the other veggies that we regrew, but they grew crooked. That’s why we suggest placing them in a Mason or glass jar instead so that the stems can grow up and be properly supported. But to honest, they’ll taste the same as straight ones.
Our favourite recipe with green onions
Green onions are perfect for any type of dish, but how can they be better incorporated than in a stir-fry? Packed with flavour, this ginger pork stir-fry will satisfy your craving for Asian food. Sprinkling green onions on top once it’s done cooking will add taste and eye-candy to your dish!
Level of difficulty: easy
Growing time: 7 to 14 days
Leeks regrow just as easily as green onions. Again, the roots will get their nourishment from a little water in a bowl or glass and they must be in a bright space. As with all other vegetables, you should always change the water regularly.
To keep it from moving around in the bowl, we created an axis with four toothpicks and stuck them into the leek. Unlike the green onions, the leek was then able to grow straight. The result was very good and the leek’s shoot grew to about 2.5 to 3 inches. But you can leave it in the bowl with water even a bit longer. It’ll regrow as if it had never been cut. Of course, it’s also possible to regrow more than one at a time.
Our favourite recipe with leeks
Potato leek soup by once upon a chef
In the comfort food category, cream of leek deserves its place. Good in any season, but especially during the cold ones, this recipe is rich and simple to make. You can even use your brand new leek shoots! The satisfaction of cooking veggies you’ve regrown will make your dish even better.
Level of difficulty
Growing time: more than 14 days
As with many of the vegetables presented here, all it takes is a little water and sun to regrow fennel. However, it’s necessary to change the water every day to avoid getting what’s in the pictures. As you can see, after a few days, the outer walls of the fennel began to mould. But maybe because of the bulb’s size, it doesn’t seem to have affected the veggie’s shoot. After 14 days, a large shoot of about 2.5 inches appeared.
By changing the water regularly and waiting a little longer, you should be able to eat the new fennel shoots after 18 to 24 days.
Our favourite recipe with fennel
With your new fennel shoots, you’ll be able to make this succulent seafood vol-au-vent. You’ll only need two tablespoons of fennel leaves that you can pick yourself! With its delicate anise flavour, this veggie adds a bit more flavour that marries perfectly with seafood.
Level of difficulty: easy
Growing time: 3 to 4 days for shoots, several months for a new bulb
To get to a shoot as long as in the last pic, we used toothpicks to hold the garlic clove in place, like we did for the leek and avocado. By adding water to the base of the clove, placing it in front of a window and changing the water regularly, we obtained a green shoot of about 2 inches in 14 days. Shoots can grow up to 10 inches long, but must be cut when they’re about 3 inches long. Just be careful not to cut off more than a third of each shoot at a time.
Shoots also grew well under the garlic clove. When this happens, you can transplant it into the ground for even more sprouts.
Our favourite recipe with garlic sprouts
Asian noodles with vegetables, garlic sprouts and gomashio by Les recettes de Juliette (in French only)
As surprising as it may seem, once they’ve germinated, garlic sprouts can be eaten like green onions. They’re therefore eaten green and raw and have a slightly garlicy taste. In your dishes, they bring a subtle and very sweet flavour, as in this recipe for Asian noodles with vegetables, garlic sprouts and gomashio. Add them to your favourite recipes!
Level of difficulty: difficult
Growing time: up to 8 weeks for roots to appear and several years to grow a tree
Avocado is a very easy fruit to germinate, but it takes a really long time for it to bear its first fruit. Moreover, not all nuclei will germinate. It’s therefore recommended to prepare several at a same time.
When you cut open an avocado, keep the stone, taking care not to cut it with your knife, then rinse it. Then, as with the leek, take four toothpicks and insert them around the pit so it doesn’t move in the bowl. Keep the pointed end upwards and fill the glass with water by immersing the lower part of the pit. Then simply place the avocado pit in a sunny spot, change the water regularly, then wait patiently. After a few weeks, when the pit’s first shoots appear and the roots reach 0.5 to 1 inch, you can plant it in soil in a pot.
Although two weeks was not enough time for us to see any development in our avocado’s regrowth, it probably wouldn’t have germinated or made roots. Why? Probably because the stone was damaged with the knife and small red mushrooms appeared around the knife’s slit.
This is what it should look like:
Our favourite recipe with avocado
Rice cauliflower avocado mango power bowl by K for Katherine
Although harvesting fruit from the avocado tree may take several years, there’s nothing stopping you from buying avocados and experimenting. Of course, even if you buy the avocado for its pit, it goes without saying that you should eat the fruit. This recipe combines the flavours of avocado and mango perfectly. With its Asian dressing, riced cauliflower and chickpeas, this Buddha-style bowl will fill your tummy.
Additional note: We also tried regrowing carrot tops, the green leaves, but with no success. To try it yourself, simply keep the top part of the carrot where the leaves grow, put it in a bowl with a little water, tops up. But there has to be some foliage on the carrot, otherwise it won’t regrow or only after a really long time. That was our mistake. Our carrot top didn’t have any leaves.
Learn more about gardening
For even better results, it’s possible to replant all these vegetables in soil. They’ll grow better and for longer. So if you’re a gardener or want to learn more about how to grow your own veggies, check out these articles that can certainly help you start your little garden:
Regrowing from vegetable scraps is a good way to minimize food waste and enjoy fresh new shoots. But if you don’t have much of a green thumb, read the article, “Tips for cooking vegetables and herbs in their entirety” to reduce food waste in your own way.
So what about you? Are you going to try regrowing one of these vegetables? Tell us how it goes!