If you're like me, you eat a lot of veggies. If you're like me, you can't stand to throw out anything...and I mean anything. If you're like me, you're renting and cannot have a compost. Sad face. Not to worry, though! All those vegetable scraps you've been tossing (or feeding to your furry companions) can be thrown into a one gallon zip-lock bag, and stored in the freezer until it gets full. Fresh herb stems too! Then once full, made into a delicious and wholesome vegetable broth in 20 minutes flat. Not having to buy vegetable broth every damn week is pretty sweet too. Did you know there's a difference between stock and broth? Yep. Who knew? Though they're used pretty interchangeably, there really is a difference. If we were to boil just the vegetable scraps and incorporating nothing else, then extracting the water, that would be a stock. However, since we did that but also added herbs, a little splash of wine, and some spices/seasonings we now have a broth. I like to make a fairly basic broth that works well pretty much anywhere, so I choose to make a broth as opposed to a boring stock.
The first time I ever made my own homemade vegetable broth, the scrap bag had a lot of kale stems in it. Also a cabbage core and brussels sprout tips. After it was done, beaming with pride I tasted it...and almost spit it out. It was sooo bitter! Now, broth is usually a little bit bitter, but not so much that it would throw off a dish or even be detectable. But mine was awful. I had to research what was causing this horrid bitterness in my broth, of course, and I discovered that it was due to the kale, cabbage, and brussels sprouts. These veggies are members of the brassica family and if incorporated into a broth, will impart a very bitter flavor, so it's best to avoid them.
Because I am a wonderful human being I have comprised a list of vegetables to avoid putting in your scrap bag:
- brussels sprouts
- mustard greens
My scraps from the brassica family still aren't wasted though. Bailey has his very own little veggie-scrap treat-bowl in the fridge that usually houses broccoli/cauliflower/kale stems. It usually has sweet potato tips, too. Sweet potatoes are fine to include, but he loves them so much that I save them specially for him.
Be sure to eat the brassica superstars, just compost the trimmings...or give them to your furry friends. As a warning though, here is a list of vegetables that you should not feed your dog, according to the ASPCA:
- avocado, any part
Of course, you should definitely save the onion and garlic scraps for the broth. This recipe should be customized by you to your specific needs and preferences for that particular batch of broth. For example, I try to make sure to have a balance of celery, onion and carrots. So, if I am missing any of these in the scrap bag, I'll add some chopped fresh ones from the fridge.
Homemade Vegetable Broth
Makes 8 cups
Notes: Use any veggie trimmings, peels, etc. However, stay away from the brassica family (kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts, etc.) as they will impart a bitter flavor. I like to balance out the scraps. If I see I don't have many carrots, celery or onions, I'll add some from the fridge. If I don't have any used bay leaves in the bag, I'll add some. You don't need a pressure cooker, just use a regular pot, cover and simmer for 1 hour.
- 8 cups fresh water
- 1 gallon of veggie scraps & trimmings (avoid brassica family)
- 2 garlic cloves, rough chopped
- 1 small piece of kombu (optional)
- 2 bay leaves (omit if already in bag)
- 6-8 whole black peppercorns
- 2 tsp. Italian herb seasoning
- 2 Tbsp. wine (optional)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
Add everything to a pressure cooker, cover, and over high bring to pressure.
Remove from heat and allow to de-pressurize on it's own. Or bring to pressure and then turn to low, allowing to cook at pressure for 10 minutes, then releasing pressure manually. Alternatively, a large soup pot can be used by bringing everything to a boil, covering and allow to simmer for 45-60 minutes.
The cooked vegetable pulp can be composted. Or gifted to a friend who has a rabbit and chickens (like I do)! Allow the broth to cool in the fridge. Having it cold before pouring into a clean one gallon ziplock bag will help to avoid freezer burn when stored in the freezer. When ready to use, just defrost. Keep the scrap bag in the freezer for a new batch! I keep both bags labeled so they aren't thrown out.
I use this for recipes that require 4 or 8 cups of vegetable broth (like soups), otherwise I have a little jar of vegetable Better-Than-Bouillon in the fridge for when I only need one or two cups of vegetable broth.
This has nothing to do with the recipe, but I'd like to note that the rural Russian lady character, Olya Povlatsky, from SNL is probably the greatest thing ever.
So funny! I think I love her so much because I, a rural Alaskan girl, can identify with her. That...and we dress very similar. If you missed the skit from last Saturday you should really watch it. It's absolutely hilarious. Also, as you know I live in Wasilla and so obviously I can see Russia from my house. Olya and I are actually BFFs. She comes over all the time.
Watch the skit here on NBC. I'm not technically savvy enough to embed a video into my posts. My apologies. One day I'll learn.