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I had no idea you could so much with coffee grounds

Yesterday when I found the recipe for Many chutney brown sauce, I flicked through a few of the following pages in Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's Love Your Leftovers book to see if there were more chutney recipes. No chutney recipes but I came across an intriguing recipe called Coffee spice rub which made use of leftover coffee grounds. Now I knew that coffee grounds were good for the garden (more later) and that places like Ikea would provide spent coffee grounds for just this purpose, but I had no idea that you could use them in cooking. After all they're sort of gritty aren't they?

So I looked online and lo and behold there are a myriad of things that you can cook with spent coffee grounds. However, it did take me a little while to realise that what we and the English understand by the words 'coffee grounds' is not the same as the American. They mean ground coffee beans, which have not been used. Indeed one recipe that I saw for a spice rub specifically said not to use the grounds left over from making coffee as they were tasteless. An opinion not shared, I might say, by countless other cooks. So if you go hunting yourself bear that in mind. For example I saw a delicious ice cream recipe, but it just used ground coffee. Some of them really didn't even use the ground coffee but actually used the coffee made from the ground coffee. I confess that even now I may have got it wrong and a couple of the following recipes may actually be really using ground coffee beans, not coffee grounds.

When it came to the cooking thing the recipes on offer divided neatly into cakes, and cookies, and spice rubs and glazes. There didn't really seem to be any sauces, or even marinades, although marinades are really just a wet rub. Oh and you can add it to granola.

There are actually lots of recipes for cookies and suchlike, but I am now not sure whether they are for used coffee grounds or ground coffee beans. Here are three that I'm pretty sure are for real: Leftover espresso coffee grounds brownies from A Fork in the Road and I have to say this looks incredibly decadent; Coffee grounds biscotti from The Splendid Table and Literal Coffee Cake from Coletti who got it from The Home Barista.

As you have probably realised by now, I'm not much into cookies and suchlike. I have a rather more savoury tooth I think, so on to the rubs. Beginning with the one that started me on all of this - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Coffee spice rub which he then uses on pork belly. The link will take you to the recipe reproduced in a Google book, and with some pages missing, which include the picture and two extra tips - add some crushed garlic if you like to the mix, and also add a teaspoonful of the mix to chocolate cake, brownie or biscuit batters "to deepen the flavour". Not sure about that - yes to the coffee but what about the fennel and chilli? The rub could easily be used as a starting place for you to make up your own rub - you could even make a jar of the stuff and just bring it out when needed.

As I said, there are a lot of rubs out there with coffee grounds in them or you could simply add it to your own favourite mix, but bear in mind that some people think you should use ground coffee beans, not leftover coffee grounds.

Still on food but in a slightly different way - did you know you can grow mushrooms in used coffee grounds? Now you will need quite a lot for this, but at the rate that most of us drink coffee it probably won't take us long to collect sufficient. Just put it in a container and store in the fridge. So here's how Healthline tells you to Grow mushrooms. It's item number 15 on their list of things to do with used coffee grounds and they say it works best with shiitake and oyster mushrooms. Now I really might give that a try.

For the most comprehensive list of what to do with leftover coffee grounds however, do go to Practical Self Reliance and read through the list of 40+ practical uses for spent coffee grounds. Some of the ideas are particularly useful for mums stuck at home with kids in this time of isolation because there are several craft ideas for fun things to do with them. But there's a huge range of other suggestions - fertiliser, fridge deodoriser, keep away slugs and snails from your veggie plants, skin exfoliant, timber stain ... I honestly cannot remember them all. There were heaps and heaps.

It could almost make you go and make a cup of coffee just for what you can do with the remains of the grounds.

We do throw them on the garden by the way. I did at least know that.


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