*This post was originally posted 1-10-14 and has been transferred from my old blog to this new one!*
This has been a weird week. I was all freaked out for the start of the semester on Sunday and did a serious amount of anxious problem-avoiding. AKA I chopped veggies, washed grapes, measured, bagged, cleaned, messed, cleaned, messed, cleaned… Instead of organizing my things for the semester. Lucky for me, classes were cancelled Monday AND Tuesday. Literally, this never happens at Ohio State. Thank youuuu Polar Vortex. So, needless to say, this busybody had a lot of time on her hands. Of course I decided to cook. Nothing makes me more relaxed and happy than cooking. Except the eating that follows the cooking. So I ventured out and did a little homemade experimenting…
I have been collecting all of my vegetable scraps from my daily chopping, peeling, and cleaning and tossing them into a huge freezer bag for a few weeks. It is seriously just as easy as throwing them away but way less wasteful! Well, after my panic-induced frenzy on Sunday, it was bursting at the seams and begging to be used up. So I dumped all the potato skins, carrot peels, celery leaves, spinach stems, wilted herbs, onion skins, garlic bits, asparagus stalks, and eggplant scraps into a pot and started making some homemade vegetable stock! I had about 10 cups of scraps total (That’s a lot. You can do this with significantly less.) so I used our mega-sized (12-quarts? I’m not sure…) pot and got it heated over medium. While I was tempted to just dump on the water, close the lid, and let the magic happen, I decided to “sweat” the veggies for a bit. I sprinkled them with some sea salt and fresh pepper and just let them thaw and cook out a little. This released a lot of the flavors from them, especially the onions and celery. Once I could really smell some of the veggies starting to release their flavors, I dumped in the water, a bay leaf and some whole peppercorns. It took about 20 cups of water to cover all the veggies enough that I could stir them up a bit while they cooked. It took a long time for this to come to even a small boil. I stared at this big-ass pot for at least 20 minutes- probably why it didn’t want to boil!- before I started seeing consistent bubbles. Once that happened I popped on the lid and let it simmer for the length of an episode of Law and Order, about an hour. Then I used a slotted spoon to pull out the big pieces and put them in the blender (you’ll see why in a bit). After that, I poured the liquid through a colander lined with cheesecloth into a bowl and TA-DA! Rich, homemade, chemical-free vegetable broth! To store it, I divided the liquid into 1-quart freezer bags and set them between cookie trays on the porch to freeze. Mr. Polar Vortex froze them in no time and the cookie sheets gave them flat bottoms and tops so they stack easily in my freezer!
In case you were wondering what I did with the soggy veggies and the blender…. They got wizzed on high for a few minutes with a good bit more salt to make veggie stock concentrate “packets”. Ever bought those “Knorr homestyle stock” cups that you drop in the water and voila, there’s stock? Ever wondered what on earth it was? Yeah, me too. Well no more wondering over here, I have my own! I froze them in a mini muffin tin lined with sheets of Press-n-Seal freezer paper and they’re individually sectioned off and ready to use!
WARNING: It looks like poop. Like greenish nasty baby poop. It tastes a lot better.
This is a tough recipe to write because I literally had just a mess of scraps from a huge variety of vegetables but this is what I would recommend as a guideline. Play around with the spices as you desire and use as much or little salt as you want- the great part is that you get to control your own sodium levels! And any vegetables will do! You’ll get a different color and slightly different flavor every time but that’s the fun of experimenting!
- 5 cups mixed chopped vegetables or scraps
- 10 cups filtered water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 Tbs whole peppercorns
- 1-3 Tbs salt (Pink Himalayan was my choice)
- 1-2 tsp other seasonings of choice
- Add all the veggies to a large stock pot over medium and allow to “sweat” but not quite cook, for 5-10 minutes.
- Add all other ingredients and stir.
- Cover pot and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally and adding seasonings and salt to taste.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool. Drain liquid into a bowl through a colander lined with a cheesecloth or clean dish rag.
- Package broth in freezer bags, cans, or jars and store up to 3 months in the freezer, one week in the fridge.