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My colleague at The Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine, Chef Leah Sarris, has a great method for using all of the scraps and peelings from vegetables in the kitchen. She calls it, "Trash and treasure." If you keep the "treasure" you have a base for making your own vegetable stock at home. While you can also use these for chicken or fish stock, making vegetable stock is incredibly easy and both saves money and makes your recipes so much tastier than if you used water or store bought stock.
The "treasure" items are those vegetables and aromatics that are going to create a rich, silky aromatic sauce. "Trash" are those scraps that will make the stock bitter or cloudy, such as cabbage or potato peelings.
As you are prepping fresh vegetables for other recipes, place the pieces you'd usually discard from your "treasure," like celery tops, tomato cores, mushroom stems, or the peelings from carrots, in a 1 gallon Ziplock bag. (This is also a great way to make use the bits of fresh parsley or cilantro that might otherwise go to waste.) Store the bag in the freezer, and keep adding to it until the bag is full. That's the perfect amount to make stock in a 4 quart saucepan. Place the chopped vegetables and aromatics (list below) in the pot and then fill it with cold water. Bring it to a slow boil and then simmer the stock for about 2 hours. Taste the stock while you are simmering to check for flavor. If it is weak, keep letting it simmer until it is strong, dark and flavorful.
After two hours (or however long you end up simmering the stock), strain the cooked veggies and discard them. Let the stock cool, then divide it into containers. I like to put one cup in a single small Ziplock bag. When they are zipped closed and lie flat, they freeze perfectly, so when you need a couple of cups of stock they are ready to go.
|carrots (peels ok)
garlic (skins, too!)
mild flavored greens such as spinach
bitter greens (kale, broccoli)
Now start your own "treasure" bag, and soon you'll have your own delicious, home made vegetable stock.