Part of my plan to reduce food waste includes saving pieces of vegetables (like the ends of carrots, celery and onions, the stalks of herbs, carrot peels, etc) to use in the production of homemade stocks.
Making homemade stock is one of those things everyone should know how to do.
Not only is homemade stock tastier than store bought, its way cheaper, too.
Consider this: a 32oz container of vegetable stock can vary in price up to 2.00 USD per container, if you use one a week, you could spend well over 150 dollars per year on stock alone. Maybe that doesn’t seem like a lot, but I can certainly think of a lot of things I’d rather spend that 150 dollars on. Making your own stock costs pennies.
When I cook dinner each night, I save any vegetable pieces leftover from cooking. That usually includes the aforementioned carrot, onion and celery ends, stalks of herbs, etc.
Here is what I had after cooking dinner last night. Carrot peel and trimmed ends, trimmed ends of celery, the “root” end of garlic and the trimmed ends of onion.
I keep a bag in the freezer of said odds and ends, I just throw the pieces in there and wait for the bag to fill up. Depending on what I’m cooking each week and how much, I might have the bag filled up once a week or once a month. It just depends.
In this bag was all of the above, plus some celeriac, parsley, trimmed bottoms from asparagus, pieces of leek, scallion and small pieces of garlic. I wouldn’t use cabbage or broccoli, as they tend to be quite strong in flavor.
When the bag is full, I dump the contents into a big pot, put in enough water to cover, maybe add a bay leaf or two, then let it boil away.
When the veg has given up the ghost so to speak, I turn it off, let it cool, then strain it into plastic containers or ziplock type bags to go in the freezer.
I use a coarse strainer to catch the bigger solids, then a finer one to catch any little pieces.
Isn’t that a lovely, rich color?
For this weeks dinners, I’ll be needing quite a bit of stock, so I’ve put about 4 cups in this container to go in the fridge for the week.
The rest, I’ve put into labeled plastic bags in 2 cup amounts. (a 14.5 oz can of stock is around about 2 cups)
Here’s a trick I use to easily fill those bags- if you have a wide mouthed container like this large measuring cup, open the bag and place it inside. It will sit open allowing you to fill it easily without tipping over.
Chicken stock can be made just as easily. When you roast a chicken (or heck, if you buy one of those rotisserie chickens at the grocery store) don’t throw out the bones! Save them in the freezer like the vegetables (or, if you happen to have enough veggies at the same time as chicken bones there’s no need to freeze) and make it the same way. Throw the bones and the saved veg in the pot, fill with water to cover and let it simmer away. I’ve even saved shrimp peel and crab shell and made my own fish stock as well. Just make sure you don’t forget to label the container!
You can use your stock as a base for soups and stews or to add flavor to rice, cous-cous, quinoa, bulgar, or even potatoes.
The nice thing about freezing them in the plastic bags is that they are easier to defrost in a hurry if you’ve forgotten to take it out. Just pop the plastic bag into a container of warm water and it shouldn’t take long to melt.
I like making stock this way. Not only do I reduce my food waste, I save money AND time, as you’re just dumping frozen veggies into a pot, boiling for a while (during which time you can do other things), cooling it some (during which time you can still do other things) then putting in bags or plastic containers to go in the freezer. Hands on time is really no more than 20 minutes.
If you’ve never made your own stock before, I urge you to try it. Its pretty impossible to screw up, and its well worth it.