Do you throw your carrot tops, potato peelings, and onions skins in the trash or the garbage disposal? If you do, then now is the time to stop, because you are throwing away food that you can definitely put to good use! Even if you compost your vegetable scraps, I’d still suggest setting a few aside.
Here’s what you do: every time you have vegetable trimmings, especially from root vegetables, mushrooms, celery, and greens — I even like to add apple peel as well, for a touch of sweetness — but you may want to avoid some vegetables like bell pepper, asparagus, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts which can add a stronger flavor or some bitterness. I throw them into a zip-top freezer-safe plastic storage bag (gallon size) and tuck the bag into the freezer, adding to it whenever I have new scraps.
When the bag is full, empty the contents into a large stock pot, cover with water, add a few bay leaves, peppercorns, and a sprig of dried thyme if you have it. I prefer to make the stock without any salt — you can add salt when you use it in recipes later. You can also choose to roast the vegetables first, to add even more flavor to the stock — toss them in olive oil and spread on a baking sheet, then roast at 450° for 40 minutes (check them every 10 or 15 minutes to make sure they don’t burn and to mix them around a little) before simmering in water.
Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Yes, after just 30 minutes, you’ll have a rich, flavorful vegetable stock, perfect for soup, stew, gravy, and sauce. Strain off the solids, let cool to room temperature, then portion into containers (I like to do 1 or 2 cup portions, the perfect sizes to measure into many recipes). It can be refrigerated for one week or frozen for up to six months. You’ll never buy canned stock again!
And, p.s. — now you can compost the scraps.
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