Kitchen Scrap Vegetable Stock (or Meat Stock)
Do you like free things? I do, and I love making vegetable stock from kitchen scraps because it's basically free. As in, I was going to throw out my onion skins and leek ends and herb stems but instead I can turn them into a delicious savory broth that I could have spent $5 on at the grocery store.
It's super easy, although you'll likely have to build up to it by saving your scraps over the course of a bunch of meals. I stash a Stock Bag in the freezer (read more in the No-Waste Strategies section) and nearly every time I make dinner I add vegetable scraps like the following:
- skins and ends of allium, like onions, shallots, garlic, scallions and leeks
- cobs of corn
- ends and peels of root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, potatoes, beets
- ends and leaves or fronds of stalks like celery, fennel and asparagus
- stems of mushrooms
- stems of herbs
- cores of peppers
- and then any whole vegetables versions of the above that are wilted, but not yet spoiled or moldy
- other flavor enhancers: Parmesan rinds or seaweed such as kombu
Basically anything except members of the Brassica family (cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, etc, as those can make your stock bitter.
If you want, you can also save bones from chicken carcasses or ribs or whatever cheap bones you can get at the butcher (raw or salvaged from the dinner table) and stash them in the bag alongside your veggie scraps to make Meat Stock.
Once you accumulate enough to fill roughly half of your largest pot, it's time to make stock!
The Rough Recipe
Put all your scraps in the pot and add water until everything starts to float. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to simmer. If you're using any meat, skim the surface of any foam. Simmer for an hour or so, or three or four hours or more if using meat.
Strain the stock through a fine-meshed sieve (or cheesecloth or coffee filters) and let cool, composting or discarding the solids. The stock will last for 5 days or so in the fridge and a few months in the freezer.
What to do with your stock? Make noodle soup, use it instead of water to cook your grains for Grain Bowls, make Tuscan Bread Soup with leftover bread, add it to Greens Gratin, make Simple Braised Greens or Any-Roasted-Vegetable Soup (recipes to come!).