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Recipe: Zero Waste Veggie Broth and other Variations on Making Stock

This recipe comes to us from 2019 Hazon Food Conference Presenter Liz Rueven.

Zero Waste broth is an effortless way to use vegetable scraps that might otherwise land in the compost or garbage pile. There are as many versions of this idea as there are resourceful cooks but here are some basics to guide you.

Save veggie peels in ziplock bags or containers in the freezer. Don’t forget mushroom stems and gills, celery tips and tails, stems from kale.

Avoid: stinky or bitter vegetables like cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi and bitter greens (really, all of the crucifers). Leave out potato skins which will make your stock murky and starchy. Consider tossing potato skins with some EVOO and salt and roasting them at high heat for delicious crisps, instead.

Consider: Saving corn cobs for corn stock and asparagus tails for asparagus stock. They will elevate your corn chowder and pureed asparagus soup in magical ways but should be made as stand alone broths. Onion skins may color your stock (I don’t mind) but too many can make your stock bitter. Toss 1-2 into your scraps bag and leave it at that.

Beets are better off going into their own scrap bag for use while making borscht or other beet centric dish (risotto, yes!). They will color everything pink, so be ready for it 🙂

Vegetable Stock:
How to: Saute or roast aromatics first. Onions, garlic, celery and carrots benefit from this treatment before they are thrown into a large stock pot with the other scraps.This lends deeper flavor to the stock. Add a few pepper corns, a bay leaf, a chunk of fresh ginger and 1 quartered onion if you like. Cover with water and simmer the stock for about 2 hours. Cool and strain.

Tips: Think about how you use stock. If you like to sip it from a cup in the winter, freeze your stock in small containers. If you like to use it as a base for your next soup, freeze in quart containers. Use it as a simmer liquid for your grains? You know what to do. Kosher keepers, vegetarians and vegans know the value of a pareve stock so be sure to label clearly as V or M if you’ve used bones. It’s safest to label with date, too. Use frozen stock within one year.

Bone Broth:
Before it became fashionable to sip on bone broth, resourceful home cooks and chefs have always
known that it lends great flavor as a base for gravies, sauces and soups.

I sometimes order Grow and Behold steaks on the bone plus “meaty” bones and “chicken soup” bones, knowing that my end game is a nutritious and rich bone broth.

How to: If using raw bones, roast them at 400 degrees F for about 30 minutes, flipping them midway. Be sure to scrape up the goodness that sticks to the pan. Place the bones in a large soup pot, cover them with water, adding 2 Tb. of cider vinegar to the liquid. Simmer on LOW for about 24 hours. Add quartered onion, 3-4 cloves of garlic and some peppercorns during the last hour of cooking. Salt cautiously at the beginning and again at the end, to taste.

Slow Cooker: If you have a slow cooker, this is the best tool for making broth. I set mine for 2 hours on high to get things rolling, then reduce to 20 hours on low. If you want more time, simply re-set on low.

Chicken Stock: I save chicken carcasses and larger bones for chicken stock. Consider defatting the gravy from your roast chicken and saving that in a sealable bag, too. These are the building blocks of a golden and delicious stock. Consider buying a fat separator, which really helps. Alternatively, refrigerate chicken-y gravy overnight and skim the solidified fat off.

To add veggie scraps or not? That is the question. Purists suggest adding select scraps for the last 2 hours of simmering. I like to place my chicken bones, a quartered onion, bay leaf and a few cloves of garlic in my slow cooker, cover with water plus a couple of inches, and let it go for about 8-10 hours. After that, I add select scraps from aromatics (celery, onions, carrots and a bay leaf, 5-6 peppercorns) and allow them to simmer for another 2 hours.

If you have kombu on hand, add a 6 inch piece to boost umami. I’ve heard of adding a spent lemon, but haven’t tried. Others suggest adding 1-2 apple cores but I haven’t tried that either.
Salt cautiously in the beginning and add more to taste at the finish. Strain and store as you like.

Note on Turkey bones: My daughter once told me that I was simply too aggressive with a friend who hosted us for Thanksgiving and wanted to throw out her carcass at the end of the feast. She was desperate to clean up her kitchen and I really didn’t want her to waste the potential of that carcass. In the end I took it home, froze it and used it on a snowy day for a delicious turkey stock. Turkey tastes completely different from chicken and is much more fatty. So keep these 2 fowls apart in the soup stock making.

 

Sources:
My loving grandmother, Bertha Scher
My mother-in-law, Litzi Rueven,
COOKING WITH SCRAPS; TURN YOUR PEELS, CORES, RINDS AND STEMS INTO DELICIOUS MEALS, 2018 by Linday-Jean Hard.
WASTE NOT; HOW TO GET THE MOST FROM YOUR FOOD. RECIPES AND TIPS FOR FULL-USE COOKING FROM AMERICA’s BEST CHEFS, 2018, James Beard Foundation