|our pet snail, "Gal" eating a carrot peel|
|my stock pile with peels, stems, and greens|
For some time I have been meaning to start saving vegetable scraps that could be used to make soup stock. However, it wasn't until I started keeping snails that I really started paying attention to what was worth saving.
It is good to keep in mind what you might reuse before you start cooking, so that you will wash the skins more carefully than you might if you were tossing the peels. On the other hand, since you will strain the stock, you can leave in seeds or pits.
|zip-top bag and serrated peeler|
To start get a zip-top bag or container. (I rinse my zip-top bag and keep using the same one.) Add trimmings from all stock-worthy fruits and veggies. In a separate container save all bones. This could be a raw fish skeleton, or bones from a roasted chicken your family has picked clean. I like to toast chicken or turkey bones to enhance the flavor.
This is my official non-recipe stock guide: Think carrot, onion, celery, meat. These are the basic soup ingredients, but you don't NEED these items. You just need the flavor elements they add. As your bag fills up, aim for a balance of these elements.
Carrot is sweet. You can fulfill this component with carrot or winter squash peels, the stringy insides of the squash with seeds, and apple or pear cores and peels. Think outside the box!
Onion is sharp and sweet. You can use clean peels and ends of onions and shallots, wilted scallions or chives, or the tough green part of leeks.
Celery adds a fresh taste and also enhances other flavors. You can use the green leafy parts of celery, celeriac/celery root, and parsnip, as well as their washed peels. Stems of parsley and dill will add to the fresh flavor. Mushroom stems will enhance flavors. If you want your stock to taste meaty, don't go overboard on the greens. That is probably my #1 soup mistake - green chicken broth that tastes more like celery and parsley than chicken.
|toasting chicken bones in the oven|
To make the stock I prefer a pressure cooker. (High pressure for 15-20 minutes for chicken bones, up to 35 minutes for other meats, less for fish.) In a large conventional pot you will want to simmer all the ingredients for close to an hour, less for fish bones, more for beef and turkey necks. Add a couple bay leaves if you have some. I prefer to add salt only when I'm ready to use the stock. Optionally, add a splash of red wine and/or a drop of soy sauce toward the end of cooking.
When all the ingredients are soft and falling apart, strain the soup. I dawn my silicone oven mitt and give everything a good squeeze, then let the ingredients drain for a few minutes. Cool as quickly as possible. I use ice packs in zip-top bags.
Other stock worthy vegetables, plus a recap
- outer artichoke leaves and stems
- the tough part of asparagus stems
- garlic stubs
- broccoli and cauliflower stems
- corn cobs
- wilted lettuce
- potato peels
- sweet potato peels, plus the pointy, fibrous end
- whole peppercorns
- herb stems
- tomato parts and products
- celery, celeriac, and parsnip greens and peels
- some fruit peels and cores
- summer and winter squash
- mushroom stems