Friday, March 11, 2011

Guest Post: Scrappy Veggie Stock

My next guest post comes from my awesome friend, Andrew, of Eating Rules, an amazing blog that focuses on healthy eating by following three simple rules.  Whether he's challenging you to avoid processed foods or encouraging you to look closely at food labels so that you're making the most nutritious choices possible, Andrew makes you think about what you're putting into your body (something which a lot of us don't do often enough).  The best part is that he does it in a truly approachable, positive way, without that hefty serving of guilt that some writers serve with their health lessons.

For this post, he's created a fabulous, basic recipe, that also helps me cover another one of the topics I keep meaning to get to here on PGEW: making homemade stock.  I've referred to my homemade veggie, chicken, and turkey stocks in the past, but have yet to get them up on the blog.  And I'm kind of glad now, since Andrew's veggie stock looks so much better than mine!  Let's check out this great recipe that helps make the most of any extra produce you may have. 

Scrappy Veggie Stock

I'm honored and very excited to be writing a guest post for Kimberly today!  We first met last August at the International Food Blogger Conference. Just before I left town, my friend Kara, a die-hard PGEW reader, told me that I simply HAD to seek out Kimberly. I shrugged, and told her, "Sure, no problem."

So I flew to Seattle, and that afternoon, while waiting in line for registration, started introducing myself to the folks nearby. Sure enough, Kimberly was standing right next to me!  As soon as I learned who she was, I blurted out, "Oh!  My friend Kara says 'Hi!'" Clearly I was a total fan dork -- by association, no less.  Even so, within minutes, Kimberly and I had become great friends, and the rest is, well, food blogger history.

On my own blog, Eating Rules, I seek out ways to balance healthful with delicious. This simple, base recipe is one of those that hits the trifecta: Good, healthy, and cheap!

Since this stock uses vegetable scraps and trimmings -- and I'm pretty liberal in what I'm willing to throw in the pot -- I wouldn't necessarily ladle it into a bowl and serve it to my dinner guests.  However, it's terrific in place of water when cooking whole grains (a few of PGEW's Quinoa Recipes come to mind) or as a base for other soups and other dishes. It's easiest if you freeze it in pre-measured amounts, so you can simply melt it in a pot and start cooking with it in the same step.

Vegetable Scrap Stock (makes about 3 quarts, cost per quart about $0.01)

Step 1 - Get Scrappy

I keep a one-gallon-size zip-top bag in my freezer, and add my vegetable trimmings anytime I cook.  Once the bag is full -- which happens surprisingly quickly -- it's time to make stock!

Also, if I find veggies in my fridge that are "on their way out" but not actually spoiled yet, I may toss it into the freezer bag if it would end up going to waste otherwise.

The best scraps to use include:  Onions, garlic, carrots, celery, parsley, leeks, chard, mushrooms, scallions, potato peelings, lettuce, eggplant, zucchini, green beans, and bell peppers.

Other good scraps to include -- but will impart more specific flavors, so be careful -- include:  Asparagus, parsnips, squash, fennel, corn cobs, pea pods, and cilantro.

Scraps to avoid:  Turnips, cabbages, brussels sprouts (these all get bitter), and anything already rotting that you wouldn't eat otherwise.

Step 2 - Boil 'em!

Fill a large pot halfway with water, about 3-4 quarts, and bring to a boil.  Drop in all the vegetable scraps and bring back to boiling.

Step 3 - Simmer & Season

Once the pot returns to boiling, you may want to add some seasonings.  Good options include thyme, basil, and a bay leaf or two. I also add one or two teaspoons of kosher salt (remember, though -- it's easier to add more salt later than to take out too much!)

Simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Simmering longer won't extract any more flavor, unlike when making meat stocks.

Step 4 - Strain

Allow to cool for a few minutes. Carefully scoop out the larger vegetable scraps with a slotted spoon, placing in a large bowl so they can cool.  Next, take a fine-meshed strainer or colander lined with cheesecloth, and carefully pour the remaining broth through the strainer into another pot.

Step 5 - Chill Out

Let everything cool to room temperature, which will take an hour or two. Give the broth a taste and add any additional salt or seasonings as desired. 

Discard the vegetable scraps (compost, anyone?).  Then measure out the stock in 2- or 4-cup increments, and freeze in individual containers, being sure to leave a little bit of headroom for it to expand when it freezes.

Further Reading

If you're intrigued by making your own stocks, you might also want to check out Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, which has a great primer on stocks and soup recipes.

Thanks so much, Andrew!  I absolutely love this recipe and will definitely be adding this to my broth & stock recipes. 

Hope you all enjoyed this post!  Be sure to check out Andrew's blog, Eating Rules, and stay tuned for another guest post in the next few days!  In the meantime, it's time to get back to more moving & cleaning.  Can't wait to start sharing new recipes from my new kitchen!  :)


  1. Great post, Andrew! Wonderful ideas for saving those veggies that you haven't been able to use. I have to remember that one! I keep my corn cobs that I've removed corn from (my husband doesn't like eating it off the cob) in the freezer and save it for when I make broth. I typically make chicken, turkey, and beef broth. I am definitely going to start using your tips to start making veggie broth now, too.

    Thanks for having Andrew guest post, Kim!

  2. I love the thought of tossing the scraps in the freezer. It's like an Oprah Aha moment! Duh! Mine still went to good use in the compost bin, but this adds another usage. Love ya, buddy.

  3. That's a really good idea! I am allergic to monosodium glutamate and therefore not able to eat most of the vegetable stocks that you can buy in the shops - therefore I am superhappy to have this recipe! Thank you :-)

  4. This is genius! I purchase stock all the time (and throw away scraps). This will really help me save money! Thank you!

  5. I love this and have been doing it regularly for years. May I add a suggestion that if you like deeper, darker stock that has a lucious roasted flavor, try BROILING those scraps for just a few minutes. Don't let any turn black, but just brown enough so that the flavors (sugars) really come out. I make both light (unroasted) and dark (roasted) versions of veggie stock and freeze them in ice cube trays, too. Thanks to Molly Katzen's Moosewood Cookbooks for the idea.

    Oh, and thanks for introducing us to this great PGEW blog, Andrew! - Veggie Val

  6. I always keep a veggie scrap box in the freezer. Seems silly to buy stock in a wasteful package that costs way too much money. I like the idea above about broiling!

  7. I've heard you can do this, but I never really knew how (I like the pictures of the veggie scraps. I make soup a lot when I'm home alone, so I'll have to try this.

  8. Added jalapeƱo scraps last time I made this. It was hot (yummy!) but watch out for the oils getting all over your hands!

  9. Recently, more than ever, food waste has really been bothering me. We Americans, in general, waste way too much food. I was thinking of doing my own post on making vegetable stock but I will just point my readers to this post.

  10. What a great idea! I, too, hate the idea of our wasteful, disposable culture. Unfortunately with the bounty of farmers' mkts in Sac I tend to overbuy and often have quite a bit of usable but not crisp produce. Before going bad I'll make soup or lentil chili though tossing them into the freezer will be more complex/flavorful and convenient rather than making it just before they go bad. Rinse the plastic bag, air dry, and reuse, voila! Any and all reminders/tips for being prudent are refreshingly welcome, thanks.

  11. This is GREAT! I recently tried out making vegetable broth myself and it is absolutely delicious. The whole house smelled really good while it was cooking, too. I've posted about my broth-cooking here:



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