What do you do with your vegetable scraps? If you’re a gardener, perhaps you compost them and make good use of the nutrients that way. If not, this post is for you!
Food waste is an enormous problem worldwide. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 1.3 tonnes of food is thrown out each year. Here in Canada, according to a 2014 report, $31 billion worth of food ends up in landfills or composters every year. I’m terrible at math, but if I’ve done my calculating correctly, that’s over $870 per person! Shockingly, 47% of that waste comes from private homes, not restaurants. Fruits and vegetables account for the highest amount of food wasted. Instead of adding to this global problem, why not use your vegetable scraps to make broth that can be used in a wide variety of ways. It’s really very simple:
Think potatoes, carrots, celery, cabbage, lettuce, cucumber, onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, beets, tomatoes, cauliflower, pea pods, zucchini and other squash. The possibilities are almost endless! Since you’re going to make use of the outer layers instead of throwing them out, make sure you wash all vegetables thoroughly to get rid of dirt and/or pesticide residue. Remove the tops, bottoms, skins, and stems and toss them into a large Ziploc bag.
Keep the bag in the freezer and add to it until it’s full. I also add bits of leftover vegetables after a meal is over. Frozen, the scraps will keep for 6 months or more, but I find that I can easily fill a bag in 2 or 3 weeks.
Once the bag is full, dump it into a large pot and add enough water for the scraps to begin to float.
Bring it to a boil and simmer for several hours.
Strain the liquid off and discard rest.
Your scraps can even do double duty if you choose to compost what remains.
Every batch of broth is a little bit different depending on the composition of the scrap mix. Some are mild; others more robust in colour and flavour. I always do a taste test before using or freezing the broth. So far, I haven’t had to throw any away, but my daughter did have one batch that reminded her of stinky pond water!
The broth will keep for 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator or 4 to 6 months in the freezer. If I don’t plan to use it within a day or two, I freeze mine in containers of approximately 2 cups each.
Looks like I’d better defrost that freezer soon!
There are many recipes that call for vegetable broth, of course, but it has plenty of other uses as well. You can add extra flavour and nutrition to stews, curries, and even rice by using broth instead of water. Sometimes I turn a whole batch into a big pot of hearty vegetable soup by simply adding chopped onion, celery, an assortment of fresh or frozen vegetables, some barley or rice, salt, pepper, and other herbs or spices to taste. There’s something weirdly satisfying about turning your garbage into soup!