Monday, July 18, 2011

Vegetable Broth from Scraps

"Being economical connects you to your food on a very deep level.  Kitchen economy is all about making the most food with the least amount of money.  It's about being conscious of where food comes from and the care it took to grow it.  It's about appreciating every last bite, minimizing waste, and considering your carbon footprint.  Kitchen economy speaks to both a richer bank account and a richer connection with your food and the environment.  It does not mean clipping coupons or driving around town for the best deal.  Grandma said it best when she said, 'Waste not, want not.'  That's the best kind of economy we can hope for."  Urban Pantry, Amy Pennington.

Vegetable broth from scraps
Kitchen economy is the ability to use our food to the very last drop (Amy Pennington, Urban Pantry), extending the life of it to serve more than one purpose is at the heart of kitchen budget mindedness.  It is the very simple ingredients which we are most likely to find multiple uses for and which will make the most impact on our cooking budget.  Today's blog explores making vegetable broth from the cast-offs, vegetable trash which in the past we may have tossed away, without realizing that there was a little more life to be had from this "so called" trash.  With grocery bills rising through the roof in a very lean economy, food banks not being able to keep up with the demand for more food from those who once would never consider frequenting such a place, and food shortages with starving children around the world, it is time we became aware of how wasteful we might be and make amends.  In the United States of America, we waste approximately 27% of our food, sending it to landfills throughout our country.  In other words, we waste one pound of food for every American every day.  Think about it.  So let's look at a way we can be thrifty with our "cast-offs" in an effort to make amends for this atrocious statistic.

Vegetable scraps from Mock Sausage and Apples with Sweet 'Taters.

Vegetable broth from scraps is the easiest recipe to make simply from scraps of the vegetables you use everyday.  For the next week you need to begin to collect in a plastic bowl or gallon bag your vegetable cast-offs.  This includes the random vegetable not eaten at dinner, the peelings from veggies you cooked for a meal, any left over stems from your herbs in which you have deleafed for cooking or the unused soon to go bad vegetables sitting in your pantry.  Within a few days, you will be surprised at how much healthy vegetable cast-offs you have available for your broth.

This evening, I made broth from several stems of herbs (oregano, parsley, thyme, and basil), carrot peelings and carrot ends, sweet potato peelings, onion skin, mushroom bottoms, and one garlic clove.  The broth is fragrant and flavorful for future recipes.  

In a large stockpot, cover the bottom with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  Heat oil over medium heat.  Add the vegetables to the stockpot and allow to sit quietly in the olive oil for at least 10 minutes.  Try not to stir the veggies too many times.  We want them to heat up and carmalize a little.  You might toss in a splash of vermouth as Amy Pennington does in her recipe or add a little water and deglaze the pan by stirring.  Add 10-12 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally.  Allow to simmer for at least 30-45 minutes.

Allow the broth to cool completely.  Strain the broth of vegetable scraps and put in clean jars or plastic container with lids.   Allow 1 inch headspace in the jars, as the broth will expand as it freezes.  Place the broth in your freezer and use within 4-6 months or in your fridge and use withing 3-4 days.

Compost scraps after broth has been strained out.

This delicious broth can be used for a number of recipes including soups and stews, stuffing, etc.  Use it in place of chicken or beef broth if cooking vegetarian.  Remember that you can use any combination of vegetable cast-offs.  I try to make broth every few days so that peelings and such are reasonably fresh.

For more kitchen economy ideas, please take a look at Amy Pennington's Urban Pantry.  It is full of ideas for a green, abundant pantry that will enable you to create delicious food for your family.

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