Saturday, June 4, 2011

Trash to treasure

I was raised in a frugal household.  With five kids and one salary, you learn the value of a dollar pretty quick.  We packed our lunches, picked out our clothes from the clearance racks at TJ Maxx, went to the mall to walk around rather than to shop, and were taught to finish the food on our plates.  Though, so far, money isn't as tight around these parts as it was when I was in school, I plan to raise my children the same way.

One thing Jeremy learned pretty quickly when we got married is that I only throw away food when it has gone bad.  In my house, leftovers are meant to be eaten, not squirreled away in the back of the fridge, only to be tossed after sprouting a thick coat of fur.  If I put food on my plate, I'm going to finish it, and by golly, he had better do the same.  In the last 3.5 years, he's gotten pretty good at estimating how much he will eat, and only putting that much on his plate.  Adaptable fellow, he is.

It was the duck combined with memories of my beloved Little House on the Prairie books that got me thinking about how to make better use of the stuff I buy at the store.  After using every ounce of that duck to make a meal, rendered duck fat, cracklings and stock, I started thinking about all the vegetable scraps that get tossed every day in my household.  Onion skins.  Cucumber peels.  The little bits of bell peppers that you don't salvage when you cut off the stems.  Etc.  And I started throwing all those little bits into a bag in the freezer. 

Last weekend that bag became full.  So I dumped its contents into a stock pot along with a few quarts of water and a couple of bay leaves.

I simmered for about an hour (I read that cooking vegetables stock longer than that actually hurts the flavor of the stock), then strained and jarred.  I was surprised at how tasty it was.

Voila!  Free, a good use of stuff I would have thrown away, and better for you than MSG-laden bouillion cubes. 

Now I have a gallon of vegetable stock in my freezer.  I think next time I will leave the stock simmering in the pot after I remove the vegetable scraps in order to reduce it down.  Even so, I can fill a freezer bag full of vegetable scraps every couple weeks.  I don't need quite that much stock.


  1. Thanks for this post! I have never gotten veggie stocks to taste quite right. I think I have been cooking them too long. Thanks!

  2. Two words. Leek stock. Think about it . Erik s


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