This is the time of year when we all have a lot of veggie scraps. Peels, ends, stems, and stalks. Before you compost those perfectly fresh scraps, think about making fresh veggie stock. It is a great way to use all of the healthy fresh ends and peels and pieces. The stock can then be used for making everything from soups and stews to casseroles or even used as the pasta/rice/grains water. By using scaps, you are saving a lot of usable food from the garbage bin or compost pile and turning it into liquid nutrients for the whole family.
The easiest way to make fresh vegetable stock is to save all of your kitchen scraps as you meal prep throughout the week and store them in a jar or bag in the fridge until you are ready to use (or the freezer if not using within a few days). I tend to prep all of our CSA box on Wednesdays along with community garden picks from Tuesday, so that everything is ready to use for the rest of the week. I can easily fill a whole pot with stems, peels, and ends every Wednesday from June to November.
Veggies that are good for stock making include onion ends, scallion bits, carrot skins and tops, celery bottoms, beet greens, pea pods, swiss chard stalks, green bean tips, zucchini peels and ends, and all stems from herbs like parsley, thyme, sage, savory, rosemary, or basil. Skip the stronger cruciferous veggies, as they can add an unpleasant aroma to stock (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts). I use kale stems just fine though. The key is to use fresh scraps - nothing bad or moldy - your stock will taste like what you put in it.
So fill a 3-4 quart stockpot with your leftover veggies and herbs. Add a bay leaf or two, a few peppercorns, a teaspoon or so of pickling spices (coriander, cumin, dill, clove), and 2-3 cloves of garlic. I also like a little dried chili pepper.
If you have a lot of only one type of veggie, add a carrot, a stalk or two of celery, and an onion.
Fill with enough water to cover the veggies/herbs (don't worry if you have a few stalks sticking out, it will cook down).
Bring just to a gentle simmer on medium (not a hard boil), reduce heat, and simmer on low for 1-2 hours.
Strain all of the stock to remove vegetables, herbs, and spices.
Pour the liquid into sterilized canning jars or freezer jars. Let them cool to room temperature first, and then freeze immediately or store in the fridge if you will be using within a week or two.
Makes approximately 2 quarts/2 litres.
Of course you can save chicken bones and make chicken stock too. I find that with all of the garden and CSA bounty my husband and I eat a lot of vegan meals in the summer. The boys have a lot of poultry since there are mammal meat and dairy allergies in the house, but there is only so much bird a girl can take (and I love summer bounty!). So for me, having fresh vegetable stock which can be used for cooking anything and everything is so convenient and really adds great flavor to everything. This veggie stock + the vegetable bouillon I make is a great base staple for just about any recipe.
So don't toss the scraps! Make veggie stock!
I am a certified aromatherapist, clinical herbalist, organic gardener, plant conservationist, photographer, writer, designer, artist, nature lover, whole foods maker, and mother of two unschooled boys in south central Wisconsin.