Sunday, March 2, 2014

Vegetable Scrap Broth

We've got a cold running through our house this week.  It started with the little one, moved onto dad and now mom.  This calls for some serious soup!

I truly believe that this Garlic Kale Soup from Vegetarian Times has magical healing properties, which we could all use right now.  It's a very brothy soup, so the quality of the broth is important.  I find that many vegetable broths from the supermarket don't taste like much more than salt and they are all mixed from concentrates anyway with all kinds of flavor enhancers, not to mention pretty pricey for something that is mostly just water.

I have a way to make homemade vegetable broth without a large investment of time or money and you'll feel great knowing that you are wasting less of the vegetables you buy!  Even better, you can compost the vegetables, or in my case put them in the compost pile for the chickens to steal, after you have extracted every last bit of flavor from them.

As I prep vegetables for various dishes, I save the scraps and set them aside in a gallon size freezer bag.  I store the bag in the freezer until it's full and I am ready to make broth.  I only use veggies that are fresh for this, nothing that's starting to go bad.  It's fine to use ugly veggies as long as they're not past their prime.  Also, since I'm using the peels and ends of vegetables for this, I only save organic vegetable scraps for broth.

Good for Broth                                     Not so Good for Broth
Onion peels and roots                           Cabbage
Carrot tops and greens                          Potato Peels
Mushroom stems                                    Eggplant
Fennel fronds                                          Anything Slimy
Garlic ends
Pepper stems
Herb stems
Kale and other greens stems

Once the bag is full or I need more broth, I remove the bag from the freezer and give the scraps a good rinse and proceed as follows:

1. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a 6 quart slow cooker over low heat.

2. Add vegetable scraps and water to cover, leaving at least 1/2 inch of room to the top of the crock.

3. You may also add fresh or dried herbs for extra flavor.  I like to add parsley, thyme and rosemary.  Add 1 teaspoon or more of salt to taste.  Try to add a lesser amount than you think you'll need since you will likely add more salt to your finished recipes.
4. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Strain, cool and bottle or bag the broth.

I used to use glass pint jars, but they were taking up too much room in the freezer so I switched to quart size freezer bags with 2 cups in each, perfect for many of my go-to recipes.  You can also freeze some broth in an ice cube tray for smaller portions.

In the end, I got 14 cups of broth, plenty for the brothy soup with lots left over for the freezer and some for a quick lunchtime noodle soup.

Shared at Clever Chicks Blog Hop


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