Sunday, 10 April 2016

Is there an easy way to use vegetable bits?


When I'm cooking, I have a bowl with all the peels and bits that don't go into the meal.

Instead of putting these scraps into a compost bucket they go into a large Ziploc freezer bag, labeled "veg for broth". As well, anything in the fridge that is forgotten and wrinkly or not "fresh" enough to serve goes into the freezer bag too.

There's a bit of editing of course: nothing slimy. THAT does need to be composted! But the rest: open season! 

When prepping supper, have a discard bowl. In goes things that won't go into the dish I'm cooking, or are past their prime (for example):
  • beet, fennel, and onion ends (and the onion skins!)
  • celery, radish or carrot tops and tails
  • potato and apple peels (not apple cores or seeds)
  • the insides of sweet peppers
    (speaking from experience, be judicious about hot peppers - the seeds are the 
    hot parts)
  • ginger peels or dry roots
  • herb stems
  • the occasional squeezed lemon rind
  • the garlic ends from grating, and old garlic cloves
I do not put lime rinds in (too sour). Often I have a chicken carcass to use, but you don't need it. Plain vegetable broth is very versatile. 

Keep the bag in your freezer to add leftover vegetable cuts as they appear. Then starting the broth is SO EASY!

Take a LARGE pot, place it in the sink. Dump in frozen vegetable pieces until pot is roughly full. Yes, full. Add water, leaving an inch or so room at the top.

Using good body mechanics, move the pot to the stove. Add:
  • about 2 tablespoons of salt (I use Kosher salt)
  • 1 Tablespoon of whole peppercorns
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • I often add a sheet of nori wrap (for the iodine and other trace minerals)
If there are garlic and ginger ends in the mix, you don't need any more spices, but that's totally up to you.

Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer for at least 4 hours, or more. Vegetables will lose their colour - that's all the goodness going into the broth. Taste for salt, add if needed. 

Cool (we often cool overnight). Skim for fat (if there are chicken or beef bones) and strain, throwing old vegs (no meat) into compost bin. Pour into muffin tins. Mine hold about 1/4c (60 ml) each. Freezing in bigger amounts means thawing takes quite some time unless you have an induction cooktop (I do, but I still prefer the 1/4c size for easy measuring). 

Freeze. Pop out and store in extra large ziploc bag until needed. Measure out easily (4= 1 cup/250 ml). I use broth for rice, risotto, soups, stews etc, while I am collecting MORE veg discards for the next batch. 

This broth allows you to control the salt (have you LOOKED at broth labels?) AND make stews and soups with broth loaded in goodness. AND not throw out waste.