“You’re not throwing that away, are you?” you hear your inner eco-responsible self ask. Your hand, which holds a pile of carrot peels, hovers over the trash can as you debate just that. Should you really be throwing away that food? You finally come to your senses, and instead of releasing your hand so that the carrot falls into the trash can, you release it so that it falls into a giant freezer bag instead. Yay! Good for you! You’ve made the smart choice to turn that food scrap into delicious stock!
The Veggie Scraps
If you’ve ever worked in a kitchen, you know that food is precious, every bit of it. The goal of any successful food operation is to have as little food waste as possible. That’s a good motto, don’t you think? So that means, everything that you think is worth eating and worth salvaging, is! You can apply this same work ethic at home. Instead of seeing that bell pepper core as trash, envision it as the perfect way to boost the flavor of your next veggie stock. And bell peppers aren’t the only veggies that add great flavor, you can also use the peelings, roots, leaves, and stalks of vegetables such as leeks, mushrooms, onions, asparagus, scallions, carrots, parsnips, celery, really, almost any vegetable.
The Meat, Poultry and Fish Scraps
Don’t toss those meat, poultry and fish/seafood bones/shells either! They’ll make a delicious stock too. Bones can be left as is or roasted before adding to stock. Roasting them adds a rich, meaty flavor, which is great for rich stews or even pasta dishes. As for fish, their bones make a perfect stock for soups and dishes such as bouillabaisse and steamed mussels. Even shrimp shells are lovely and can be saved to make stock!
Storing Your Scraps
Your kitchen is not a commercial kitchen, so it’s likely that you won’t be making stock every day. That means you’ll need a place to store all of those precious scraps. The best way to do that is to place the scraps in freezer bags and keep them somewhere in the freezer where you can easily locate them. This way you can add scraps as needed. Keep the vegetable scraps in one bag and allocate other bags for meat, fish and poultry. When the bag is full, you’re ready to make stock!
Making that Stock
Now that you’ve got your scraps, you’ll need just a few items to build a perfect stock. First, you’ll need a lot of water, easy! Next you’ll need a basic combination of celery, carrots and onion. Typically, chef’s use 1 part carrot, 1 part celery and 2 parts onion (this is called Mirepoix) along with a few garlic cloves, a couple of peppercorns, some parsley sprigs and a bay leaf or two. Then, it’s just a matter of cooking! Place the scraps and other ingredients in a large pot, add plenty of water to more than cover the scraps. Set the pot over high heat and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook, for about 1 to 2 hours. Usually vegetable and fish/seafood stocks will need less time than meat or poultry stocks. Remove from heat, strain out the bones and veggies, cool and refrigerate.
Scraps are Gold
That’s right, those food scraps are gold, so treat them as such. Start a new habit of saving them when you can. Organize your thought process so that when it comes time to ponder, “should I toss this,” you’ll know the answer.
Let us know how you make stock in the comments section below and be sure to download Luvo’s 7-day meal and fitness plan for more nutrition tips and recipes.