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before composting - veggie broth

 
steward
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I've been really enjoying all the comments in this section and wish I had time to comment more. Here's something I recently carved out space for in my freezer and I'd be curious to hear how others might do this, too.

Keep a container in the freezer for carrot tops, celery ends, onion and garlic skins, tomato bruises, all the veggie trimmings you wouldn't put in your meal, but which can make awesome veggie broth. You can add a little of the stronger veggies like the brassicas and such, but too much of those can make the broth bitter.

I have some whole chickens I plan to roast, and when I cook the picked-clean carcasses I'm going to add all these veggie scraps in the water, too, for added flavor and nutrition. Or, of course, you can do a veggie broth separately.

I haven't done this in years and am excited to get back to it. Does any one have any tips of what they like or don't like for doing broth like this?
 
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For broth I tend to throw in everything I have laying around without any planning whatsoever .  Consider it a polyculture broth.  It's always tasted good so far!
 
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if you haven't tried making broth from a whole raw chicken or parts (cheap thighs, wings and legs are great for stock) you should try it! I don't even try to make broth from an old roasted chicken anymore...just too bland for me. plus if you make stock from a raw chicken you get the fat to skim off and use as well as great chicken for chickens sandwiches etc... if I am in a canning mood I boil the chicken till it is just barely cooked through then tear off the large chunks of meat to can and return whats left to simmer.

the best way to know you have made good stock (chicken stock) is if it turns to a jello like consistency when you cool it. i have never been able to get that out of a roasted chicken. all the cartiliage is already gone. adding a bit of acid (vinegar or tomato)helps get the collagen broke down.

there are some unsubstantiated health claims regarding gelatin. but I think there are several that are well documented. one of which is it helping ulcers and protecting the stomach.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Yes, I have gone straight to soup from raw before, Leah, but that's a great reminder and good idea about the cheap chicken parts! Plus I think you're right about the health benefits of gelatin.

I'm curious, how do you use the chicken fat you skim off?
 
Leah Sattler
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I use it in place of butter for savory cooking. I think you can use it to make pastries but i just don't make that sort of thing. when I think about it.... I have never made a pie crust other than a crumb kind. when I see that fat I think.........hey! I paid for those calories ..... I am not throwing it out! I wish I could provide more of my own chicken though. I always worry what kind of ickies collect in the fat if it is store bought. 
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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That's really smart, Leah! When studies were done on how chicken soup helps rid people of colds or flu, wasn't the chicken fat a main part of what they found to be effective?

I've collected and used bacon fat, but never other animal fats. I guess they've always scared me. (Maybe I'm an animal fat wuss.)

Though I do buy lard once a year to use in my grandmother's traditional German pfeffernuss holiday cookies.  It's tradtion!
 
pollinator
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i do try to remember to do this when i have time and space in the freezer..which would be now..as I'm trying to have the freezer cleaned out some for this years harvesting.

haven't really started getting anything out of my garden yet this year that has any waste though here in michigan.only asparagus and salad greens..so they all get eaten..

but thank you any way for the reminder..as i LOVE SOUP..and i need to start thinking of winter meals now..and plan ahead for the soup pot.
 
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That's how my grandma used to make chicken noodle soup. I remember her cutting a whole chicken into parts and putting it in the pot with some salt and water. She'd simmer with veggies and when the chicken was done, she'd skim the fat, remove the chicken and return some of the meat to the soup. She'd save the extra meat for chicken salad, sandwiches, casserole and whatnot. She'd make homemade table noodles for the soup as well. It was the best. That's what she'd do if she didn't have scraps. If she did, she'd cook the chicken with the scraps, strain the scraps when she pulled the chicken and continued with the recipe from there.
Hmm... come to think of it, I have a big stock pot just collecting dust. I'll have to make some soup.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Thanks for reviving this with a mention in the daily-ish, Anne Miller!  

I took a couple simple photos last fall. The first one shows half gallon mason jars that I keep in the freezer for scraps. In the photo, I have filled them with cold water to thaw the scraps so I can get them out and in to the crock pot. It takes a bit of shaking.

The second is a very full crock pot of scraps. I love using crock pots, and this batch was humming along in November when the extra heat in the house was a good thing, but I need to kick that habit and get better about using the haybox cooker in the summer or on hot days.

We do vegan broth a lot (just veg and mushroom scraps), or a combined meat bone and veg broth from bones we save after a meal. Some folks like to put a splash of vinegar in to help get the calcium out of the bones (or veggies?). Some folks even add egg shells to theirs. I once saw a cook add coffee grounds to his broth to dark and flavor it, but I don't like the idea of caffeine in my broth, so I don't do that!

If there are days we anticipate a lot of veg cooking, we start a crock pot about half full, and add veggie scraps as we go, until it's full.

thawing-veg-scraps-for-broth.jpg
[Thumbnail for thawing-veg-scraps-for-broth.jpg]
thawing veggie scraps for making broth
veg-scrap-broth.jpg
[Thumbnail for veg-scrap-broth.jpg]
veggie scrap broth in the crock pot
 
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Broth? Stick an immersion blender in that for a few minutes and  call it soup!
If it good enough to eat the juices of it, then texture is probably the only issue.
Immersion blending creates a nice thick stew.
Add nuts or beans for protien.
I like mine over brown rice, but but barley is probably a better bang for the buck,nutritionally.
 
                                        
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We call it "garbage stock". Onion skins, for one, have a great deal of quercetin.  Qué bueno!
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Veggie scrap broth is a regular routine in our kitchen. We make either a vegan version, or a bone and veg version. I've refined a bit of what I like or don't like in the broth and made a card for our kitchen counter to explain:

DO include:
  • vegetable tops and ends
  • vegetable skins and peels
  • apple cores (no seeds, only need a few cores per batch)

  • do NOT include:
  • moldy parts
  • dirty parts
  • brassicas / cole crops (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.)
  • nightshade stems or shoots (potato sprouts, pepper stems, etc.)

  • Not on the card in the kitchen, but for meat bone broth, we certainly DO include the bones, cartilage, fat, skin, etc.

    Plus, we throw a dash of apple cider vinegar in each batch because I'd heard it helps pull out the calcium to make it more available.
     
    garden master
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    I want to add a suggestion to this discussion that may work with the gadgets and work flows that some people have: pressure cookers, especially electric pressure cookers.

    I don't have freezer space to store veggie ends and pieces and bits.  But as a largely plant-based eater, I do a lot of vegetable prep work, and have a ton of vegetable "waste" that -- not having animals yet -- goes to the wild birds, or the garden.  Every now and then I would make vegetable stock the old fashioned way, in a stock pot or slow cooker, but without animal parts to give it depth and richness, I never found it worth the hours and hours of heat in my kitchen.  I mean, I'm cooking vegetables in my food anyway, right?

    Yeah, people who actually cook are shaking their heads in sympathy or derision now.

    So I learned better when I got some ramen-type noodles and wanted to start cooking noodle bowls -- fast cooked noodles, served with a splash of good rich vegetable stock and fresh herbs and veggies that are either  raw or just very lightly steamed or sauteed.  Needed stock for that.  

    What I do now is keep the eight quart stainless insert from my electric pressure cooker handy on the counter while doing veggie prep.  Anything that's suitable for stock goes in there.  When I clean down my counter, I walk out to the kitchen garden and grab some herbs, just a sprig or three of whatever's there: basil, oregano, dill, cilantro, lemongrass.  And any greens, wild volunteers or cultivated: sorrel, lambsquarter, chard, kale.  No more than a leaf or two of any of any one thing.  A bit of chive or green onion.  Wander back into the kitchen.  Throw it all in.  Fill to the maximum line with water. I don't usually cook with mushrooms, so I toss in a tablespoon of commercial mushroom powder and a tablespoon of nutritional yeast.  Hit the pressure and let it cook for 45 minutes.  

    I love my electric pressure cooker because it's cooking in a thermos bottle; analogous if you squint to a sort of commercial electric haybox.  Energy efficient and doesn't heat the kitchen unduly, especially if you do the "natural release" and let it come down to room temperature over time without releasing steam, cooking on residual heat the whole time.  

    The result is not as rich as stock that simmers in an open pot and reduces.  But I cook a lot of dishes that amount to "cook stuff with spices in enough water to move the heat around" relying on the spices and vegetables in the dish for whatever flavor I'm going to get in the food.  And -- duh -- using the prepared vegetable stock instead of water makes just about anything I cook considerably better, even if stock prepared more slowly would be better still.  

    There is a way to use a vented electric pressure cooker to reduce broths; you can even maked flaked salt from sea water if you're willing to burn that much electric.  But I'm not willing to burn that much coal-fired electricity for the job, and I'm too lazy to set up a way to get all that steam outside my house instead of inside it.
     
    pollinator
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    Dan - I have to say I agree with you, and all the restaurants that I have worked in have felt the same about vegetable broth, not worth the bother. Vegetable broth was code for water. The only one that I feel different about is mushroom broth, it can be a satisfactory substitution in mushroom risotto.
     
    gardener
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    I'd like to add a "sprig of parsley" to the list. I try to keep some growing really close to the house by encouraging it to self seed and it's got lots of healthy nutrients in it.

    Luckily I've got an electrical outlet by my front door, so if I'm trying to use the slow cooker when it's hot, I often plug it in outside.
     
    Dan Boone
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    Stacy Witscher wrote:Dan - I have to say I agree with you, and all the restaurants that I have worked in have felt the same about vegetable broth, not worth the bother. Vegetable broth was code for water.



    Just to be clear, that was my original opinion that I was describing in the first part of my post.  I've subsequently modified it.  Cooking for a plant based diet without animal flavorings and processed (hydrolized) vegetable proteins usually used as flavoring agents in processed foods, my current belief is that using vegetable stock in place of actual water for cooking liquid results in a significant improvement in the flavor of my dishes.  The stock itself doesn't taste like much, and isn't anything to write home about, especially when compared to just about any kind of meat broth.  But I've decided it's very much worth making.

     
    Dan Boone
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    Jay Angler wrote:I'd like to add a "sprig of parsley" to the list. I try to keep some growing really close to the house by encouraging it to self seed and it's got lots of healthy nutrients in it.



    Oh, yes.  But my climate is very unkind to the triple-curl parsley that is the kind I like (the flat-leaf stuff isn't enough different from cilantro for me to feel like bothering with it).  Most years it won't germinate at all, or if it does, it just sits and sulks as tiny little once-inch-high plants.  Working out a way to get it to grow happily in my kitchen garden is a perpetual project.

    I do have commercial dried parsley (and celery seed) on my shelf and put a smidge of both in  my stock when I remember.
     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    I agree with Dan that the vegan veggie broth is certainly worth having around for making vegan dishes.

    Making it at home means so many good things and there are ways to improve the flavor:
  • you can adjust the flavors as you want - as in no brassicas for me, but IMHO beet ends and tops add an earthy richness and dark color, while others might not want any beet in theirs
  • salt - homemade for us has no salt, which could be why it seems bland at first, but adding in to a soup or dish with salt and other seasonings helps the flavor pop
  • fats - vegan veg broth has very little fat (there are some lipids in veggies) which makes it seem less rich than a chicken or beef stock or broth, but when added to a dish with healthy fats/oils, again the flavor of the broth will pop much more (some flavors we are better able to taste when combined with a healthy fat/oil)
  • herbs or greens - as Dan & Jay mentioned, herbs or greens can bump up the flavor, too - I'll include stems from fresh basil or parsley, or more 'neutral' herbs; but I don't include cilantro stems, for example, just because I typically freeze our extra veg broth to use later and we have enough new or changing visitors and boots/helpers that I'm worried some might be those who really don't like cilantro
  • packaging - oh, how I LOVE avoiding those durn, non-recyclable aseptic boxes of store-bought organic broth! making it at home means using it in a dish right away, or storing or canning in re-usable glass containers - mo' better (to say the least!)
  • nutrients - as Melissa mentioned, onion skins are a great source of quercetin, and the dark reds and purples of other veggies contain really valuable anti-oxidants and phyto-nutrients, plus the other probably countless benefits of eking out additional veg goodness to add to our food

  • While I might agree with Stacy that most veg broth is usually not as strong or rich as mushroom or meat/bone based broths, IMHO it can still be a valuable component of delectable food!

     
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    Dan, if you don’t have freezer space, have you considered dehydrating your vegetable peelings and/or excess vegetables for later use? I often dice celery, zucchini’s, marrows (when the zucchini’s get away from me), swede’s etc and they can be thrown into soups as needed.
     
    Dan Boone
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    Megan Palmer wrote:Dan, if you don’t have freezer space, have you considered dehydrating your vegetable peelings and/or excess vegetables for later use? I often dice celery, zucchini’s, marrows (when the zucchini’s get away from me), swede’s etc and they can be thrown into soups as needed.



    Yes!  Usually kale or zucchini or something random from the store that sold really cheap on loss-leader sale.  But my dehydrators are in a separate space not very convenient to my kitchen, so it's a fairly big production, not something I can conveniently do with a few scraps.  If I don't have a full dehydrator load it's not worth the hassle.  

    We are renovating a room and when that's done, we'll have space for a chest freezer.  Several aspects of our food handling will change for the better then!
     
    Dan Boone
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    Jocelyn Campbell wrote:Making it at home means so many good things and there are ways to improve the flavor...



    While you were writing this I was looking through some old threads and improving the "related threads" list below this one.  I got to musing about the rich unctuousness of a good meat stock/broth that comes in part from animal fats and in larger part from slow-dissolved collagens.  Now, properly speaking, there is no collagen in the vegetable world, but vegetable gelatin or something like it exists; I'm thinking of the way a good split pea soup will harden and get a translucent gel on top of it when it cools in the pot in the fridge.  So that idea got me Googling for suggestions on how to make vegetable stocks with a richer flavors and textures, and I found this article in Lifehacker.  Sure enough, one suggestion was to include vegetable thickeners in small amounts, including among other possibilities mentioned, tiny number of legumes that will dissolve and contribute their starches to the stock liquid.  Other suggestions included adding vegetable fats into the stock pot and:

    1) use parsnips -- not a vegetable I've ever grown, purchased, or tasted, but the author claims they are her #1 tip for better veg stock flavor

    2) add kombu -- the japanese dried seaweed -- for a bit of fishy umami plus thickening texture

    3) go ahead and putting in pectin or another straight-up gelling agent.

    I probably won't go that far, but throwing a few beans or split peas into my stock pot is something I'll definitely try!  
     
    Stacy Witscher
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    Dan - I was mostly concerned with flavor when I was in restaurants and they were not vegetarian, so it wasn't something we were concerned about. Today, I cook with nutrients in mind, but my diet is HFLC so vegetable broth isn't useful. One of the main reasons I make stock is to ingest the nutrients from bones and meat. Given that my carb intake is limited, I try to make every carb count, in the sense that I really enjoy it.

    That being said, different diets work for different people and that's okay.
     
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    Parsnips add an amazing flavour to stocks - definitely one veg to try.  They can be tricky to grow though.
     
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    Neal McSpadden wrote:For broth I tend to throw in everything I have laying around without any planning whatsoever .  Consider it a polyculture broth.  It's always tasted good so far!



    I used to do the same but because of that my broth always tasted different, so it felt like making something new every time
     
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