We grew up in a home that went to great lengths to avoid wasting food.
Peanut butter jars were scraped clean with the spatula, yogurt containers were not allowed to be thrown away until every. last. drop. of yogurt had been consumed, crusts were never thrown away and even the crumbled cereal dust at the bottom of the box was eaten.
So maybe you can understand where we’re coming from when we say that seeing food (or anything, really) being wasted really bothers us. Like when we would watch a food fight break out on a T.V. show as kids the first thing that would come to our minds is “that’s such a big waste of food!” Yes. That happened.
And don’t even get us started on the amount of food that we see getting thrown away at work! Having cooked/served at a few restaurants now, the amount of food that we’ve seen get thrown away on a daily basis at any restaurant is enough to make our 8-year-old selves speachless!
While a restaurant can’t really do much about the food that gets brought back un-eaten, one place we worked at had a great system for using up veggie “scraps”. You know, the outer peel of carrots, the stems of herbs, the ribs and seeds of peppers- all the stuff that ordinarily you would just throw away? They had several “stock pots” sitting around the kitchen, and when you would finish peeling and chopping a bunch of carrots, peppers, cucumbers, etc. you would throw the leftover parts that you aren’t using into the stock pot. When the pot got full, it was covered and kept in the fridge and used later on to make vegetable stock.
What a great idea, right?
Since working there we have adopted a similar system, and now we always have healthy, low-sodium homemade vegetable broth on hand that costs basically nothing to make! It’s a very simple process, so lets get started.
Step One: Get a plastic bag/bucket and fill ‘er up!
So what usually falls into our stock bag? Carrot peels, pepper stems, onion skins, the ends of celery stalks, cauliflower stems/leaves, herb stems, and when the bag is getting full and we know we’re going to be making stock really soon, we like to throw in some apple cores, too! Just remember these two pointers:
1. Don’t put asparagus into your vegetable stock unless you know you will be making asparagus soup
2. Don’t put more than one broccoli stem into the pot, or else all you’ll taste is broccoli!
Step 2: Dump the veggie scraps into a pot and fill it with water.
No need to measure, just fill it to about 1 inch from the top of the pot. We also like to add a couple more chopped up garlic cloves at this step, to pump-up the flava!
Step 3: Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and allow it to simmer for about 1 hour.
As the stock simmers some of the liquid will evaporate, so you may want to come back 1 or two times during the simmering process to add a little more water back in.
Step 4: Strain the liquid through a colander.
You’ll be left over with a reddish-brown liquid that looks like this:
Now just pour the liquid into a few containers and place in the freezer. They’ll keep for several months in there, and you can just pull out containers and thaw them as you need them!
We usually don’t add any salt to our stock since we prefer to add it to the actual recipe when we’re cooking, but if you like you can feel free to add a dash or two in according to your tastes.
And there you have it! No-salt-added vegetable stock perfect for soups, stews, sauces, and whatever else you want to use it for! And all those veggie “scraps” that ordinarily would have been wasted have now been put to good use. You will never need to buy the stuff in the powder form from the grocery store ever again.
Cheap, healthy and easy? Sounds about right to us!
Have you ever made your own vegetable stock? What do you do to avoid wasting food?