Definitely Not a Recipe Post: Veggie Scrap Stock
I fully recognize that this is a weird thing to be writing about on a lawncare blog. I'm just so excited about this trick that an old friend taught me a couple of years ago, and I seriously use it all the time. This isn't a recipe post, I swear. Ok, it's kind of a recipe post. But I promise, this isn't going to turn into a recipe blog, because that's pretty low on the list of things this world needs right now.
I'm always looking for ways to use up every bit of the ingredients that we have, especially if they're things we've grown ourselves. Lots of scraps go to the chickens and we have a pretty kickass compost pile.
Maybe it comes from growing up poor, maybe it's because we spent so much time growing the stuff that I can't bear to throw it out, and maybe I'm just a little bit of a hippie at heart. It's like a challenge every week to use up every last thing in the fridge before grocery shopping. This week everything is chipotle flavored, from the leftover paste from the chimichurri sauce I made on Friday.
So this hits my heart in like three different places: Zero waste, healthy cooking from scratch, and basically free food. And it's ridiculously easy.
The basic premise is that whenever you're cooking, throw all of your vegetable scraps in a big Ziploc and toss it in the freezer. I'm talking carrot tops, onion skins, celery leaves, herb stems, and those weird little garlic cloves that are a pain to peel. Toss it all in. Every time you cook, keep throwing scraps in until the bag is packed full.
Then, when the bag is full, dump everything into a pot, cover it with water, and simmer it for an hour or so to make beautiful, delicious, (practically) free, super healthy vegetable stock. I use this stock in absolutely everything. I love that I know exactly what's in it, and I can control the level of salt. Store bought stock is expensive, and it's almost always way too salty for me.
The recipe is below, but I'm not exaggerating when I say that this is a reeeeaally loose recipe. It's different every time I make it, because the beauty of it is using what you have on hand. You can also throw some chicken or beef bones in it (cook it a lot longer if you do, like 4-6 hours), or you can add tomato paste and shrimp shells for an amazing seafood stock (shmancy ramen anyone?). Taste it often, and don't be afraid to experiment with it. Remember, it's basically free, so if you screw it up, so what?
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Large Freezer Bag of Veggie Scraps
Small Handful of Peppercorns
2 Bay Leaves
6-8 Quarts of Water
1. Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium high heat.
2. Roughly pick out most of the onions (it's ok if other stuff gets picked out with them) and add them to the pot. Cook for a couple of minutes until they start to soften and smell really good.
3. Dump the rest of the bag of scraps into the pot. Add the peppercorns, and bay leaves. Cover the veggies with water up to an inch or two below the top of the pot.
4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes to 2 hours. Add salt to taste.
5. When the stock has a rich color and tastes amazing, turn off the heat and let it cool until you can handle it without burning yourself like I always do.
6. Stir it good and use a ladle to strain into two cup increments. Carefully pour stock into small freezer bags, seal, and store flat in the freezer.
7. To thaw, you can be patient and let it thaw in the fridge, or just run it under warm water until you can dump it into a pot and heat it up on the stove.
Just look at that beautiful rich color on that stock... Oh man, it's so freaking good! You can use whatever veggies you like, but some work a little better than others. See below for a quick rough guide to which ones work the best.