Again I sit early on a Saturday morning, muffins in the oven, coffee in hand, Cam still in bed, dogs sleeping in the living room….
I have a few moments to write and plan out my weekend. Ah….I wait all week for fleeting moments like this.
I also love Friday nights. They are like a free-for-all. No rules! No bedtime! The weekend is ahead! Friday nights are so full of hope.
Last night I undertook a project I had been thinking about for awhile and was solidified in my mind when I saw a recent entry at the Sweet Beet. Cam and I have been considering how we can maximize the potential of our vegetable waste. Composting is a logical choice, but it has not been something that we could do in New York due to lack of space and now that we have a home and a yard, it seems more plausible, but it has not yet come to fruition.
Yet somehow, there had to be a way to stretch our organic veggies a little further…re-purpose them in another useful way somehow. Based last night’s experience, we have found the way to further the output of our produce…
Keep the veggie scraps in a freezer bag as they accumulate:
Once I had a good gallon-sized bag full of squash peelings, onion skins, potato peels, kale stalks and radish tops, they went into the stock pot with enough water to just barely cover the veggie bits, a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, a bundle of fresh thyme sprigs, a few bay leaves and couple of tablespoons of salt for good measure….and did I mention eggshells? ‘Cause those were tossed into the mix as well. According to Ms. Sweet Beet, eggshells plus vinegar equals more calcium in the mix. In the past, Cam has sterilized and crushed eggshells to mix in with soil for tomatoes because the calcium helps the fruit grow big and strong, but one can only put so many eggshells in their soil, so this is another great opportunity to use those organic, free-range shells in a meaningful way.
So there those veggie bits sat in their brackish bath in the big ol’ pot over medium heat. Once things got going, I covered the pot and stirred it occasionally, making sure everything had the chance to cook down. As it did so, the house got so nice and warm, started to fill with the rich scent of something lovely bubbling on the stove…
Once everything was sapped of much of its color and the onions were transparent, I felt like it was time to pull it from the stove and strain the large bits out of the brothy bits.
I basically poured the whole shebang through a colander into another large pot to separate the big pieces out. This produced a lot of stock. A lot. More than two humans and a couple of fluffs can handle all at once. So, I ladled the stock out of the pot into pint and half-pint jars through a sieve to catch the smaller bits of veg that escaped the colander.
The total yield? 6 quarts.
I processed the jars as I would any other canned product. They cooled overnight and are now boxed up and in stored away to be used in a bean/noodle/rice/soup/stew very soon! The picture of all them together makes the stock look a bit darker than it actually is. It is a very nice amber color akin to a store-bought stock, but my homemade version is probably more nutritious. I know what went into it and the value of our nutritional dollar just went up significantly.
The nice thing about canning the stock, too is that it is already portioned out so it’s easy for recipes or just the perfect amount to pour into a pot for noodles or rice. I am very pleased with how this turned out and I can’t wait to start using it! Our resident accountant is happy at all of the funds we saved by, well… boiling our garbage.
It was an evening’s worth of work start to finish, but it was fairly easy to work in other tasks around getting this done (watching Mad Men DVDs, eating chocolate, texting with my brother, etc). I certainly recommend it and look forward to doing it again.
But now I’m hungry and the muffins are cool. Time to nosh and get on with the other projects of the weekend!