For our newbies: “Baskets!” moments are that moment when you think of something so obvious that it’s amazing you didn’t trip over the simple solution years ago.
Next time you’re chopping up some veggies, get out a gallon-size zip-top bag and toss in any edible pieces that you’re trimming. This includes peels, end bits and weird fleshy bits that wouldn’t look appetizing, but are harmless. You can even toss in veggies that have gone limp in the fridge, but aren’t icky yet.
The bulk of the bag should be stuff like: carrots, potatoes, eggplant, mushrooms, garlic, onions, green beans and bell peppers. You can also include stuff like celery, parsley, sage, corn, cilantro and lettuce. Just avoid or use sparingly vegetables that will impart a terribly strong or specific flavor.
Avoid: cabbage, broccoli, turnips, brussels sprouts, artichokes (these can be bitter or overpowering), and beets, which can cause your stock to turn a funny colour. (If you must have clear stock, avoid potatoes and corn; their starches will cloud your stock.)
To make the stock:
- 4 cups veggie scraps
- 3 quarts water (or enough to cover the veggies)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons of kosher salt
- Bring water to a boil in a stock pot.
- Tie the veggie scraps up in a cheesecloth (optional) or just dump ’em on in the water.
- Return to a boil. (Note: no need to thaw, if the scraps are frozen.)
- Add bay leaves and salt.
- Reduce temperature and simmer for up to 1 hour (but no longer!)
- Allow to cool slightly.
- If you wrapped your scraps in cheesecloth, extract the bundle and squeeze with tongs. Otherwise, pour the stock though a fine mesh strainer into another pot; press the vegetables in the strainer slightly to wring out extra juice.
Then store it in an airtight container in the freezer for up to four months. (Note: it’s helpful to store it in two-cup portions or so.)