There is increasingly more talk about food waste. Did you know that 1/3 of food is wasted – starting at the farm, along the way to the grocery store and finally in your kitchen. That is a lot of wasted food. Moreover it has been reported that a Canadian consumer throws out on average 183 kg (approx. 400 lb) of food of which 80% was once perfectly edible. That would cost the equilvalent of about 3 fancy dinners out for 2 including wine!
I get it though. With the best of intentions you were going to eat that cauliflower or spinach and yet you just did not get around to it. Or some how the cucumber has overnight become a gooey mess. And I swear some food hides in the fridge.
With this in mind, I have been focusing on how much food I buy with a real effort to eat everything and reduce my food waste. One of the changes I made is to utilize vegetable scraps. I use stock a lot and over the years have relied on vegetable or chicken powder to make stock. It seemed like it was too much effort to make homemade stock. It dawned on me one day to save up the vegetable scraps to make stock.
Cutting the tops off carrots, or onion skins, or celery tops or any ends of vegetables that I cut or peel had all been wastefully tossed into the green bin. Since these parts all go into making stock, I started saving them in the freezer. I also save leftover cooked chicken bones or beef bones to add to the stock as well. I save nearly everything – stalks from cauliflower or their outer leaves, tops of green beans, asparagus ends, bell pepper cores, beets (mostly golden or white – red will make really dark stock), Swiss chard stems, tomato ends, even radish ends – although not too many! I do not use potato peelings nor broccoli or Brussel sprouts because of their strong flavour. If you don’t mind the stronger taste go ahead and use them.
If there is a lot of vegetables scraps will add in some of the broccoli just to be a little less wasteful. The scraps are stored in the freezer and when there is about 4 big bags it is time to make a big batch of stock. I now find it easy and even pleasing to make my own stock.
I use stock to make soup, stews, or cook rice or quinoa with stock instead of water – it really enhances the taste, or add to anything that needs a touch of liquid in cooking like stir frys or reheating something up on the stove.
To make the stock, toss the frozen vegetable scraps into a large pot and cover with water. You can add chicken or beef bones. I make either chicken or beef, not both which for me is purely from a taste perspective. Add bay leaves, salt or whole peppercorns to taste. Parsley is another great choice. Avoid adding strong seasoning like garlic or ginger as it is better to have your stock more neutral and you can add spices when cooking.
If using just the vegetables, bring to a boil and then let simmer for about 8 hours. Note that the liquid will reduce. Drain the liquid from the scraps and voila you have your homemade delicious stock. If you want to enhance the nutritional value of the stock you can use a vegetarian gelatin by reheating the stock and adding agar agar (sourced from red seaweed). You can also add fermented glutamine powder with the agar agar which is very helpful for gut healing.
If you are adding in bones you will want to simmer on the stove for at least 24 hours. I sometimes simmer them for up to 48 hours. Be mindful of the time and keep on really low heat overnight. Drain the bones and vegetables. Cool the liquid first in the fridge and a layer of fat will form on top. You can lift the fat off and discard.
This usually makes anywhere from 12 to 20 cups of stock. Store in small batches of 2 to 3 cups in the freezer. Stock in the fridge is good for about a week.
Get creative and make stock out of scraps. There is no right or wrong way so experiment with your scraps. You will be saving the planet, saving money and eating something nutritious and flavourful.
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