Recently I've made a series of changes, big and small, to cut down on my carbon footprint. Food waste was a big one. I started meal planning, shopping more frequently and intentionally, and repurposing leftovers. But one thing I was unsure of how to deal with was vegetable scraps. My mom has chickens in her yard, so that does away with a lot of scraps like bits of bell peppers, watermelon rinds, and lettuce stems. But there is a lot that chickens cannot eat, like onion peels. I did some research, and found that you can repurpose nearly anything into stock! So I began storing nearly all of my cooking scraps in a gallon freezer bag. Carrot tops, parmesan rinds, steak bones, and much more. Once the bag was full, I tossed it all in a pot with some wine and water. It all simmered together for a couple of hours, and before I knew it I had a delicious, nutrient-rich stock.
The key here is to not stress to much about measurements and precision. Just follow these guidelines and it will all come together. As far as ingredients go, these are just some ideas. Freestyle with what you have.
Cooking scraps, like chicken or beef bones, carrot tops, onion stems and skins, etc.
Parmesan rinds (optional, and be sure they are not wax)
A few cloves of garlic
1 whole onion, any variety, quartered and unpeeled
A few sprigs of rosemary
Splash of white wine
2 large carrots, halved
Fresh herbs and/or herb stems (parsley and cilantro work great here)
In a large pot, heat a tablespoon of oil. Add in any meat bits and bones you have, if any. Cook for a few minutes, until any fat begins to render and the edges start to caramelize.
Meanwhile, set the garlic cloves on a cutting board. Leaving the peel on, lay your knife on top of the garlic. Press the base of your palm firmly on the side of the blade, till you hear the garlic begin to crack. If you're feeling bold, you can do this with one good whack. Toss them in (peels and all) into the pot, along with all the scraps, onion, and rosemary. Cook for a minute or so.
Pour in a couple glugs of white wine, just to deglaze the pot. This will lift up all of those glorious crispy bits and add some depth to your stock. Simmer for about a minute, then add water until everything is just covered. Cover and simmer for 2-3 hours, or until the liquid has reduced by at least a quarter. In the last 20 minutes or so, add in the carrots and fresh herbs (optional).
Let the stock cool for a bit, then strain into jars. Let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, the fat will have solidified at the top. This is easily removed with a spoon, and can be used for cooking if you like! Store the stock in the fridge for about a week, or in the freezer for much longer!