12 October 2012

Recycle Your Food!

Chicken & Turkey Broths
Making stocks and broths is the best way to squeeze out all you can for your dollar. I have made it a habit to save all vegetable skins, ends, peelings, and small amounts that won't be eaten before spoiling. Really think about anything you would normally toss out—carrot tops, broccoli stems, onion and garlic skins, potatoes peelings, etc. I keep a bin in the freezer and just add to it.
I also store meat bones in the freezer. Just toss them in a bag and label until you have enough for a proper batch. These also come in handy when cooking beans or greens. We like meat in everything down here. (If you don't believe me, just ask what vegan items they have at Cracker Barrel.) You can use raw or already cooked. Leave the meat on or not. I love roasting poultry stuffed with onions and celery in the cavity. After I've picked the bones clean, the whole carcass gets tossed in the pot, so I get double duty out of those aromatics.
I was able to laugh at myself when my husband gave me a sideways glance during an episode of Portlandia. “We can pickle that!” became another tagline, along with “Just whipstitch it.” But that's another post...
When I have enough bones and/or veggie scraps saved in the freezer, I dump it in the pot and fill with water. I don't really measure anything. Think of it as tea; steep to your desired strength. I refrain from adding herbs or salt, as I prefer to save that for when I'm actually cooking with it. You can use a slow cooker on low overnight or simmer for a few hours on the stove. I recently began reducing my broth to save on shelf space. I remove the lid and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. If needed, you can thin it out with water.
I used to freeze stock in quart-sized baggies. Lay them on their sides in a pan until frozen solid. This thin shape thaws much quicker and is easier to store. Or freeze in an ice cube tray, then transfer to a large baggie. This is perfect for adding just a bit to sauces. Now, I can it. I find it easier as there's no thawing. Quarts process for 25 minutes at 10 pounds in the pressure canner.
Wait! Don't throw it out. Once you have taken care of the broth, the leftover veggies can go to the composter or a worm bin when cooled, or out to the animals if you have them. However, cooked bones should not be eaten by animals, as they may splinter and cause tears or punctures.
Now that you have stock, what do you do with it? Lots of things! With fall around the corner, I'll be making lots of soups and stews. Replace or cut your water with it for more flavor in your rice. Make savory mashed potatoes. Dressing and stuffing. Perfect in gravy. Roasting liquid. Marinates.
Making stock is a great use of your food “waste” and an essential staple in the kitchen. Really, it's the ultimate way to recycle food.

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