What to Do With… Veggie Peels and Ends – don’t toss ‘em; cook ‘em!

soup2I try my best to incorporate fresh vegetables into every meal.  Although the extra bits and pieces of these veggies are compostable, there is yet a better use for much of them.  Simply collect them in the freezer until you’re ready to make soup stock, then pop them out and simmer with your other ingredients.  Not only will this give your broth a more well rounded flavor, but because the bits are frozen while still fresh, it will add a healthy dose of nutrients as well.

Most peels and ends can be incorporated.  Mushroom stems, carrot peels and tips (excluding the leafy tops which tend to make the stock bitter), fennel fronds & ends,IMG_2166 celery ends and leaves, ginger offcuts, herb stems,  potato ends and the list goes on –  experiment to see what you like.  I was very happy to learn in a cooking class that onion, garlic, and shallot peels can be used as well and they take the stock to a whole new level of savory goodness!

Do you steam, boil, or blanch veggies?   The excess water you’re left with is halfway to yummy nutritious broth already and can be frozen with your scraps!

Some items to leave out are cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts.  I’ve put in a bit of cabbage though and it’s worked out fine.  Also, please use your best judgement- don’t add anything moldy or rotten – if you can’t eat it now, freezing will only make it cold and rotten.

IMG_2172I sift through my crisper from time to time and if something is on the cusp of not so freshness I’ll freeze it before it crosses the line of inedibility.   I also like to keep my slightly droopy tomatoes frozen separately to for use in a tomato based recipe.  Of course if you use lots of vegetables and want to make stock right away, you can bypass the freezer and make the stock immediately.  You could always freeze it once it cools down and store it that way too.  I personally like to make large batches of soup, so I collect scraps for a while in the freezer and bust them out when it’s soup time.

Making Your Stock:

When you are ready to make the stock, simply toss your scraps into a stock pot, add some fresh vegetables and herbs, and cover with water in equal amount to the veggies.

For depth of flavor it’s wise to always include fresh carrots, celery, garlic (leave the peels on) and onions (among others) in addition to your peels and bits.  Fresh parsnips add a lovely sweetness as well.

Chicken or other bones add a ton of flavor also, for those who partake.vegetable_soup_stock_cc_marci1994

Bring the whole deal to a boil and then simmer for about an hour – don’t go too much longer or it won’t taste as fresh.

Taste as you go, and season with fresh and/or dried herbs as you wish.

Strain the ingredients out, separating the broth into a new pot for immediate use or to cool before putting in smaller containers for freezing.

I prefer to leave the stock unsalted until I use it in a recipe.  If you wish to salt, do so at the end when the flavor is developed – low sodium soy sauce or liquid aminos are a great option too.

A healthy squeeze of lemon at the end is a nice touch depending on how you’ll use your stock.

If animal products were excluded, the leftover veggies may be composted, taking it full circle!

Do you have a different use for veggie scraps? How about another idea for reusing, reducing, or recycling? Please comment here or email us at contact@takesavillage.net. We’d love to include your ideas in a post!


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2 Responses to What to Do With… Veggie Peels and Ends – don’t toss ‘em; cook ‘em!

  1. Margaret says:

    This is so great…I learned so much! Thank you!

  2. monroe says:

    Great writing…very descriptive !

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