The Food We Take for Granted
“Food–so much food–and people to share it with,” wrote one church member as we gathered on Thanksgiving to consider various examples of the “evidence of God’s grace” in our lives. Isn’t that the truth? Many of us are blessed with such an abundance of food. Just look at the photo–not everyone can say they were able to take a 15 minute drive into town to shop at the local food co-op and bring home a plethora of organic fruits and veggies. That’s something I need to remember never to take for granted. It’s also why I want to reduce waste by recycling veggies into broth.
I just finished reading the book Grocery Story by Jon Steinman (definitely a must-read for anyone who consumes food). At one point, he mentions a statistic on produce waste. I can’t remember if it was a global or regional figure, but it was along the lines of half of all produce getting wasted. HALF. That’s completely outrageous. A lot of it has to do with the industry standards of “perfect” produce. Everything must look identical and be free of the harmless blemishes we find on homegrown garden food. But the corrupted food industry isn’t to blame for all of it. So is everyone who consumes food–including me.
Compost as a Way of Life
When you live in the country, composting is really simple. Throw produce scraps in a bucket, empty it outside in the compost bin, let it ferment for a while, and back in the garden it goes. I never thought twice about it as a kid. It was ingrained in me to never throw produce scraps in the garbage. When I moved to town, composting became a lot more difficult. At my first apartment, my roommates liked to keep a container for food waste in the kitchen and they would regularly take it to one of the drop-off bins on their way to class. The trouble is, now I don’t live within biking distance of a compost drop-off. Technically, I could find a way to make it work, but not without it being very inconvenient. But I still feel bad about throwing food waste down the garbage disposal.
Recycling Veggies into Broth
Last night, I took a trip to the co-op to get a nice haul of organic veggies for Lentil & Yam Coconut Curry (stay tuned for a recipe 🙂 ) Thinking about how much produce waste would come from peels, stems, and seeds, I thought back to volunteering at Healthy Community Kitchen. We would often reserve some veggies from the regular compost to make immune broth for the clients.
Making some of this nourishing broth is incredibly simple. As you’re cooking throw all your veggie scraps in a big bowl. I used onion, garlic, lemon, ginger, cilantro, carrots, peppers, and sweet potato. Most any vegetable will work, but steer clear of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels, sprouts, kale, and cauliflower. They are known to make broth bitter. For extra flavor, toss in a bay leaf and add other spices and herbs.
Put all the veggies you want to use in a large pot and fill with water until the veggies are covered. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes to an hour or until the broth reaches the flavor concentration you’re looking for. Add salt to taste.
When the broth is ready, drain the liquid into a pitcher and dispose of the scraps when cool. Pour the broth into jars. If you allow space at the top for expansion, they can be either be frozen or stored in the fridge for more immediate use. To make the broth shelf stable, sanitize the jars and lids in boiling water. Then fill them with broth and put on the lid. Place the jars in a bath of boiling water to pressure seal them. When removed from the water, the lids will pop as they seal. This will allow the jars to be shelf stable.
Sometimes, you may not have enough veggie scraps to make a whole batch of broth, but that’s okay too. As you go about your daily cooking, keep a container of veggie “waste” in the freezer. Keep adding to it until you’re ready for some fresh broth!
Recycling veggies into broth makes for a really versatile ingredient. Try using it to replace the water in Chicken & Brown Rice Soup!