Tips for an eco-friendly BraaiWiebke Venter
‘Braaing’ is South Africa’s number one sport. As a German, I had never heard about it before I moved to South Africa. We do ‘Grillen’ in Germany, but that’s just a normal BBQ and could never reach the science of a real South African braai.
Despite my previously limited knowledge, we have discovered and researched some small alterations and alternatives that make your braai as eco-friendly as possible:
Braaivleis often comes in plastic packaging, and most of it is not recyclable. Our tip is to take your food containers to a butcher. In our experience, butchers are willing to put your meat into the container you provide, but supermarkets are generally not as willing. When we went to our nearest butcher for the first time, there was a little bit of explanation required. Now, they know us and are happy to put our meat into our containers.
If you want to take it to the next level, you can reduce your meat consumption by replacing your meat with a delicious alternative. You can braai almost anything, from corn on the cob to vegetable sosaties, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and even haloumi cheese. I even saw someone roasting a watermelon recently on TV!
To avoid plastic, you can buy your firewood at a street seller. Not only is it more economical, you can fill up your car’s whole boot, you support a local family, and there is no plastic involved at all. It’s a win-win!
You need to be careful with what you choose to light your fire. Conventional firelighters can contain kerosene as the flammable ingredient together with a resin binder (typically a urea/formaldehyde resin), water, emulsifier, and for grey-black firelighters, a colouring material. To go eco-friendly, choose 100% biomass firelighters. Here are our favourites: Green Flame Firelighters and FireFly Biofuel Firelighters!
Buy loose ingredients for a salad. You can find loose fresh produce at farmers’ markets and in most supermarkets. Bring your mesh bags along to transport your produce.
Additionally, you can make your own dips and sauces. I personally love mayonnaise. Here is my recipe, if you want to try it:
All ingredients must be room temperature. Blend 1 whole egg for 30 seconds. Add 2 tbsp. of vinegar, 1 tbsp. of mustard, ½ tsp. salt and blend for 30 seconds again. Then, add 250 ml oil that is neutral in taste to the mixture drop by drop. We use olive oil that is light in taste as that has a lot of good fatty acids. The egg-mix should now bind with the oil and result in a creamy mayo texture. Keep in mind, your mayonnaise is very likely to flop (I am telling you from my experience ;) – patience is required).
Here is a way to store your mayo: If the mix separates, just start over again with one new egg and some of the vinegar and mustard. Add the messed-up mix as you did before with the oil alone. Add some sugar if it is too sour.
I also find hummus is an amazing dip. Here is how it works: Use 1 can of chickpeas in brine, 1 tsp. cumin. 1 garlic clove, salt to taste, 30 ml lemon juice, 2 tbsp. olive oil, and 2 tbsp. water (you can use the brine that the chickpeas came in). Blend everything together, and you’re done.
Taking the time to make your own sides does not only allow you to adjust them to your taste, you also know exactly what’s in there and you can choose healthier alternatives. On top of that, you are saving loads of plastic and making the earth a better place!
Choose glass bottles and aluminium cans that can be easily recycled. Maybe you want to serve some cocktails at your braai? A stainless-steel straw like the 6 Degrees East Stainless-Steel Straw makes the whole experience even more fun (and eco-friendly!)
We wish you a good, eco-friendly braai and a wonderful time with your friends and family. We would love to hear about your green braai tips and recipes. Please share them in the comments to spread the love!