Kitchen Tip: Saving for Stock

The other day, I was planning to steam some organic broccoli to accompany our dinner, and, as usual, I washed the broccoli and cut off the big woody stems. But I couldn’t bring myself to toss them. I left them on the counter while I cooked dinner. And there they remained while we ate. And still they sat while we washed the dishes and wiped down the counters. So I did the obvious thing and hopped online to look for a few suggestions and found many creative ideas on the web including several here and here.

I started by trimming off the thick outer parts of the stalks, thinking I might try one of the dishes I found on those sites. But it was getting late in the evening and I knew I wouldn’t be cooking up anything at the time – and also wondered if they might languish in the refrigerator should I put them in there to do something later in the week. So I kept reading and was struck by one of the great ideas on healyrealfoodvegetarian.com – save your vegetable scraps in the freezer for soup stock.

I love this idea! I really enjoy using homemade stock when I cook. When I roast my Thanksgiving turkey, I try to save the carcass and make a delicious broth that I divide into (many, many) tupperware containers and save in my freezer. There’s really nothing like homemade.

So I gave them a really rough chop and tossed them in a labeled. freezer bag.

broccoli bag

This morning, I was looking through my produce drawer and noticed the last of my celery was looking less than crisp. I started to walk it over to the trash can and then thought – wait! Laura! Don’t throw it away (we’re not yet composting at the Roudabush household – it’s been on our list for a long time…)! Add it to your soup stock freezer bag!

So I gave the celery a quick cleaning in the sink.

washing celery

And then a rough chop on the cutting board, trimming away any brown parts.

chopping celery

And then into the freezer bag the celery went!

soup stock bagI don’t know about your households, but sometimes we just can’t make it through all the great produce we buy, especially veggies like celery, where your only option is to purchase a bunch. And the last thing you want to do is toss out that pricey organic produce. I did some research and put together a list of vegetable scraps you can save for stock. Onions, carrots and celery are essential for the base of your stock, but also consider:

  • broccoli, asparagus, kale and mushroom stems (and other trimmings)
  • onion skins, leeks, shallots, garlic, green onions
  • peels (and other trimmings) from carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, winter squash, eggplant, and potatoes
  • trimmings from carrots, celery, bell peppers, green beans
  • Stems of herbs

Just be aware that the herbs will flavor the broth, so think about how you want to use it. If you’re going for an Asian- or Mexican-inspired soup, cilantro might be a good choice. Otherwise, rosemary, thyme and oregano stems might make a better choice. And most cooks seem to be unanimous: you’ll need somewhere between 4-6 cups of vegetable scraps to make 2 quarts of vegetable stock. All you’ll want to add to a 5 quart pot of water will be a few peppercorns and a bay leaf or two (and more carrots, onions and celery if your scrap bag doesn’t have much of those vegetables already) and simmer away!

A few other tips as you save your scraps: Clean your produce and be sure to toss out any rotten or molding produce (or cut off any bad parts) before freezing.

I hope you find this tip useful!

Here is my recipe for bone broth using vegetable scraps and chicken bones (you can also use beef or fish bones).

And here are some more recipes for vegetarian stock:

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6 thoughts on “Kitchen Tip: Saving for Stock

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