November 20, 2013

Stock Up! Culinary Conservation. ~ Paige Vignola {Recipe}

I live by the belief that nothing we purchase or consume, as mindful beings sharing this world, should be disposable or single use.

I despise the use of plastic plates and utensils—-I carry a bamboo set, which includes a knife, fork and spoon, with me wherever I go—-and plastic water bottles. I try to buy my clothing, and clothing for my children, from consignment shops; the fact that someone wore my daughter’s dress before she did takes nothing from its intrinsic value or beauty.

I also apply this guideline to food.

Ok, perhaps on first examination that might sounds like an unhealthy or perhaps even disgusting concept, but hear me out.

With every meal I make, I save the scraps. I keep a series of large plastic (I know, I hate plastic, but glass just doesn’t freeze or defrost as well) zip-lock bags (reusable and often reused, of course) in my freezer. One bag is designated “seafood,” another “chicken,” another “vegetable.”

Clearly I’m not a vegetarian, which does not make this concept any less relevant, but for the sake of this discussion we’ll remain focused on the plant matter.

I save the ends of carrots. I save the skins of onions and garlic. I save corn cobs, asparagus ends, broccoli stems, potato peels, artichoke leaves, squash skins, stems from parsley, basil or any other fresh herb, and anything and everything else we eat.

All these items get stored in my freezer until the time is right—then I make stock.

The process is simple: place the scraps in a stock pot, fill the pot with just enough water to cover the vegetables, cover it and leave it to slow simmer.

I leave my stock cooking for a good 12 hours, never rising to a boil, extracting the flavor and nutrients from the butt ends of our rejected foods.

When the mixture is done cooking I pour it through a series of sieves, straining out the solid matter until all that remains in a lovely, dark brown, deliciously pungent and healthful stock.

After the stock has cooled I pour it into the saved, empty, washed yogurt containers that I keep on hand for just this purpose, label them and store them in the freezer for later use.

The vegetable remains get used once more—-in my compost, feeding the plants back to the soil that produced them to begin with.

With the holiday season—-and the corresponding season of feasting—-coming up, save your cooking scraps.  If you eat meat, keep those turkey bones.

Make your own stock and have one less thing that needs to be purchased from the store, one less container that goes to waste, one more food item in the house that is wholly preservative free.

Homemade stock makes the perfect liquid for cooking lentils, boiling rice or pasta, or a creating a rich soup base.

Why buy stock when you can just stock up?


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Editor: Bryonie Wise

{Image: Wild Tofu via Flickr}

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Paige Vignola