Saturday, October 10, 2009

Practically Freegan Vegetable Broth

Here's one version of veggie broth I make on a regular basis. No, I'm not suggesting any dumpster diving. It's mainly comprised of vegetables you've got sitting around that haven't quite gone bad, but you aren't really going to use them in anything before they do go bad. Or the parts of veggies you would otherwise throw away. My theory is that if I'm not making broth once a week, I'm probably not eating enough vegetables.

Obviously, you can use the same perfectly good veggies to make broth. Then you can use the veggies in whatever soup you're making as well. When I use the freegan version, I really do use just the broth. I drain out all the veggies and toss them.

Onions/shallots-that 1/2 onion you stuck in the fridge and forgot about, or the one at the bottom of the root vegetable bin that has one bad spot, but the rest is good. Cut off and throw away the bad part. Save the skins and the end parts from onions you are using in the freezer.

Carrots-those limp ones hanging around the vegetable drawer or the half bag of baby carrots you keep meaning to take into work for a snack, but they've been in there awhile and don't look so appetising. With fresh, save the green tops and any peelings from carrots you're using in the freezer.

Celery-same as for carrots. Also when you buy celery get the whole stalk. It's usually even cheaper than the "hearts" or the cut up ones, and you just take the bottom 3 inches and throw it in the freezer with the other broth parts. From the farmer's market celery usually has a lot of leaves on top as well. Take care not to use too much celery in the broth unless you're making celery soup. It does tend to take over.

Leeks/scallion-save for broth most of the tops, and the very bottom and the first few layers of the "good" white part at the bottom.

Potatoes/sweet potatoes/squash-save the peels in the freezer for broth.

Corn cobs-save for broth

Broccoli/Cauliflower-save the leaves and the stems you don't really want to eat (you know you just want the tops with your dinner.)

Kale, collard greens, any other leafy greens- save the chunky stems
Mushrooms - save the stems or throw in a few dried mushrooms for a stronger mushroom flavor.

Herbs- parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, cilantro. Just keep in mind what kind of soup you plan to make. If you want a basic broth, leave out the herbs until you're actually making the soup.

There are a few items I don't use. I try to keep out seeds, so I don't use the cores of things like peppers. Also I skip the skins from eggplant which can make the broth bitter. Some recipes suggest not using cabbage or asparagus, but I've used both and the broth is still fine. They're just strong flavors. You can use apple peels, but the broth will be extra sweet.

Here's the vegetables straight from the freezer. Onion, carrot peelings, celery parts, the stems from turnip greens, some summer squash and the peel from a winter squash, and the greens from some leeks.

My two favorite additions for basic broth are kombu (seaweed) and bay leaves. The kombu magically makes the broth taste good without additional salt and the bay leaves give it nice rounded out flavor. Bay leaves you can get at any grocery store (or my mom's backyard) and you can find kombu in the Asian section of a well stocked grocery store. Kombu is fairly cheap, a $3 bag from the Asian store will last quite awhile.

Cut all the veggie parts into smallish pieces. Usually about bite sized is a good rule of thumb. I break corn cobs in half. Put it all in a big pot and cover with water. Add the kombu and bay leaves and let simmer about an hour. Drain and enjoy plain or in your favorite soup recipe. Freeze any amounts you don't plan to use within a week. Obviously, to thaw broth for use in recipes, just put it in a pan and heat it up.

All the simmering veggies.


HayMarket8 said...

This is a great how-to! Thanks for posting. I have actually never made my own veggie broth. I am going to try this, it seems very simple. You rule!

J. said...

I agree! I never made my own before because our fridge was tiny and I didn't know if I'd have room to store cuttings and broth. But now I have Giganta-Fridge I'll try it for sure!

Monique a.k.a. Mo said...

I'm glad you posted this. I was saving some stuff for a broth but never even thought to put potato and carrot skins in it.

River said...

Awesome post! I love taking advantage of all the veggie goodness to the extreme! That pot is loaded with goodies!

Jenny said...

Great ideas...I waste way too much. I have sort of o.c.d. ideas about eating things that are slightly bad or old, even if they're fine. I'm definitely going to start doing this, though.

For the Love of Guava said...

SO smart Jenn! On it!