STOP! Save those veggie scraps!
This might be the easiest Martha Stewart-like thing I've ever done. Seriously.
And bonus, it's about the most frugal thing you can do, you're getting TWICE the use out of your vegetables!
All you do is keep your leftover veggies (ends of onions, skins of sweet potatoes, stems of mushrooms, chopped celery and carrots that didn't quite make the cut in the main dish, etc.) in a gallon size zip-lock in the freezer. When it is totally full, you throw it in your crock pot. Add garlic & herbs. Pour just enough water to cover the vegetables (less if you want it extra concentrated, or to save space and dilute later!), and bring to a boil. Then turn the heat down and let it simmer for at least 1-2 hours, or overnight. In the morning, move the vegetable scraps to a strainer over a large bowl and squeeze every last bit of juice out of them. Repeat until it is mostly broth, then pour that through the fine-mesh strainer as well. You can store it in the fridge for use within 1 week, or you can freeze or can it. I like the little tubs in my freezer for easy grabbing when I make soups, but if I do a big batch, I steam-can it so I can save my precious little freezer space in my tiny San Francisco kitchen.
Here's a recap with pictures.
1. Throw frozen leftover veggies in a pot. Add some peppercorn, bay leaves, parsley and garlic. (Or other spices as you see fit--cilantro, thyme, oregano, etc.) P.S. Isn't it so pretty? Talk about eye candy...
2. Cover with water. (Mine took about 9 cups)
3. After bringing to a boil, let simmer for at least 1, if not 2 hours. If using a crock pot, leave it overnight on LOW = easy peasy. (Hint: do it this way.) I have a Saladmaster 5-Quart Electric Pot with the most amazing setting "Rice 1"--it heats up to 250 degrees, and then immediately down to 150 degrees, where it stays until I turn it off. Anyone else have a Saladmaster? Isn't it so great?!
4. Strain the juice out of the veggies. I move only the veggies scraps to the strainer first, and really press all the juice out of them, using a large spoon (or your hand). And then rinse the strainer, place back over the large bowl, and pour the liquid through the fine mesh for a last filtering.
5. Bottle in the fridge for a week, or steam-can to store in your pantry. You can also freeze in mason jars, and just thaw by setting it in a warm water bath when you need it. ALSO, genius tip= make a few ice cubes with it for when you're sauteeing vegetables. A quick burst of flavor without any oil!
Happy Veggie Stock Making!
Keeping it healthy + happy,