Thursday, May 10, 2012

Every Last Drop

      One of the big focuses in our home for the last couple years has been on reducing the amount of waste (namely trash) we produce.  We've always been avid recyclers, but even that system has it's issues, so we also try to buy products with little or no packaging or reusable packaging, and use re-usable bags, cups, dishes, water bottles, etc instead of disposable.  We've also come up with a variety of uses for our organic matter waste (read: kitchen scraps), of which we have quite a lot since we eat tons of veggies.

      We get every last drop of nutrients and use out of every thing.  We compost, we regrow, we feed it to the chickens (which is actually part of the composting process, but that's a different post), and now, we make broth:

       I read about this recently on another blog (was it yours?  I tried to link to the post, but it failed, let me know and I'll happily credit you) and it was one of those forehead smacking moments.  I figured it had to be pretty easy to make your own broth, and as it turned out, there was just one minor, super obvious step I was missing.

      This is a great way to get even more nutrition and added value out of your veggies, and it can even speed your composting along a little.  Plus, if you use even half as much veggie broth as we do, it's a huge money saver.

      The first step (the obvious step that somehow just never occurred to me) is to freeze all your random veggie odds and ends.  Everything that gets piled up beside the cutting board when you're making dinner (except anything you're going to regrow) - mushroom stumps, carrot greens, onion peels, veggie ends, herb twigs - pretty much anything, even if it's a little dirty - it's going to get boiled and strained anyway.  Um, but not fruit.  Unless you want fruity broth.  Which would be interesting ...  Hmmm... 

       You just keep adding stuff to the freezer container(s) until you have roughly enough to loosely fill your crockpot or whatever pot you want to make the broth in.

       Then, when you have a spare 5 minutes (seriously, it takes no time at all), you just toss it all into the slowcooker with as much water as you can fit, leaving a little room for it all to simmer.  Add a touch of salt (you really don't need much, but a little will help the simmering and flavor-releasing process), and turn it on high overnight (all day, 6-8 hours, whatever works for you and your slowcooker).

       This can also be done by boiling everything in a pot on the stove, you'll just have to watch it a little closer.

       The next day (or after whatever time period you've settled on), you simply strain and squeeze.  I put a cheesecloth "sock" over the top of this bowl, dumped the whole crockpot in, then lifted out the sock and squeezed out every last drop of goodness.

If you ask me, that is one tasty looking shade of brown.

       And when it's all strained, pour it into some handy re-used jars and freeze or refridgerate, depending on when you intend to use it.
      I got two and a half full jars of broth to freeze, plus a cup or two I used immediately, from one crockpot of veggie leftovers.  So I basically made more broth than I would typically get in one $3 - $4.00 container of broth at the store for FREE, and I got more use out of the veggies we had grown/purchased, AND I still got to compost the leftovers after making the broth!  With almost no time or effort at all.  Rock.

       One last word of advice:  watch out for sand.  I throw everything into my freezer container, like I said, including parts that might be a little dirty like mushroom stumps.  This isn't a problem since everything gets boiled, but remember when you're pouring the broth into jars to do so slowly so that any sediment remains settled at the bottom and doesn't go into your jars.

      And an additional effortless tip for eating more ethically:  Switching out veggie broth for meat broths is imperceptible in most recipes but is lower fat, lower sodium, higher nutrition, and is one less dime in the pocket of the sick, inhumane factory farms.

      If you want to get really fancy with it, you can also be more specific about the veggies you use for this - for instance, you could make an amazing all-mushroom broth.

      Please let me know if you try this!


CanadianMama said...

Okay, following now!

Magaly Guerrero said...


I am the broth, juice from peel, dirty laundry queen. The latter has to do with recycling any bit of food (seriously, anything from meats and bones to pieces of bread) mixing it all up with, adding a couple of eggs (for breakfast) or cheese (for dinner) and you have dirty laundry. The Little Princess and my Piano Man love it.

I eat a lot of mango, pineapple and orange. I make juice out of the pineapple peels, and tea out of the mango's and orange's... okay, I'll stop.

I just got a bit over excited because I really love the new blog. When I get home, I'll make some dirty laundry.

I want chickens ;-(

Katherine said...

I am finally following! Sorry it took me so long.

I do like this. I've made my own stock before, but the amount of time it had to boil and then the amount I got out of it just didn't seem worth it. Most of my recipes call for 4-6 cups of stock, which was everything I made. I'm really awful and just use vegetable bullion cubes. I know. Lazy.

Karen Peterson said...

I love this idea, but I cook so rarely that it would take me all summer to fill one pot!

Hmmm...I guess that's problem number 1...