What do you do with your veggie scraps?
I hate food waste.
Vegetable offcuts are perfect for making stock but there’s not always the time to do this while prepping a meal. Freezing them is a great alternative.
Throw the unused parts of vegetables (I love fennel, leeks, onions and celery, as well as corn cobs, herb stems and carrots that have gone soft and wrinkly) into the biggest plastic container that’ll fit in your freezer. When the tub is full and you have half an hour to spare, it’s time to make stock!
Zero waste vegetable stock
Stock (or broth) is super easy to make. Put the frozen scraps into your largest pot, amply cover with water and simmer for 30 minutes. For a set-and-forget method, a crock pot/slower cooker/Instapot also works well.
A pressure cooker saves time and helps to concentrate the flavour. I know pressure cookers freak out a lot of people but I love my stovetop stainless steel number (picked up as new at a garage sale for $10 almost 30 years ago). Though it’s best to avoid the old and often temperamental aluminium ones.
When cooked, drain through a fine mesh sieve or colander, squishing extra the liquid out of them with the back of a spoon.
If you like using smaller amounts of stock with a more concentrated flavour, put the drained stock back on the heat and simmer it until the quantity has reduced by half.
Vegetable stock hacks
Now you’ve got the basics sorted, consider taking your next batch up a notch!
- Use a mix of vegetable, for a more dynamic stock.
- Corn cobs are full of flavour, even more so if charred in a hot dry pan or on the BBQ (it’s a game changer to make a richer stock).
- Add some onion and garlic, if there are no alliums in your scraps.
- Go easy sulphurous vegetables like cabbage and broccoli.
- Flavour boosters: try adding a few peppercorns, bay leaves, kombu (seaweed) or dried mushrooms.
- Sea salt is the ultimate flavour enhancer and balances the innate sweetness of vegetables. Either salt to taste once the stock has finished cooking or remember to use a generous amount in your final dish.
- If you’re not using the stock in a day or two of making it, freeze in batches. Reusing large take away containers works well and is easy to stack.
How to use vegetable stock
Homemade stock is a great alternative to commercial varieties, as it’s free of additives and helps control of your salt intake.
Don’t worry if you’ve forgotten to thaw a block of frozen stock. Let the container sit in hot water for 15 minutes until it begins to melt, then add to soups or stews. For grain-based dishes, it’s best to fully thaw until liquid.
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