Vegetable stock from produce scraps

We live in the second most populated country which is home to the largest undernourished population in the world. About 40% of the food produced in India is wasted or lost at different levels – from harvesting, transporting, processing, packaging and consuming. Wastage of food is not only indicative of hunger, climate change or pollution, but also of many other economic pitfalls such as inflation.⁣

Each time you throw away food, you’re stealing from the poor and hungry. And you are ignoring and insulting the efforts put in producing that food. ⁣

While most food wastage in India happens before it is packaged because of infrastructural loopholes, that does not mean you can’t or shouldn’t do anything to prevent wastage on an individual level.

This vegetable broth is made entirely from vegetable scraps that you would otherwise throw, is super simple to make, adds tons of flavour to your dishes and can be kept in the fridge for a week or frozen for up to 3 months.

What you will need –

  1. Vegetable scraps – 4 cups
  2. Peppercorns – 1 tsp
  3. Bay leaf – 2, torn
  4. Fennel – 2 tsp, crushed
  5. Cinnamon – 2 inch stick
  6. Garlic – 1 whole head, cut into two
  7. Onion – 1 medium sized, quartered
  8. Light oil – 1tsp

Through the week, I wash, coarsely chop and save roots, stalks, leaves, ends, and peels from vegetables such as carrots, pumpkin, spring onions, capsicum/bell peppers, eggplant and mushrooms. Gourd skins, beet greens, corn cobs and herbs like coriander, rosemary, thyme and basil are also good additions.

Store scraps in a jar in the freezer and make this stock whenever that jar is full.

Not every vegetable is destined to turn into stock and you’re better off tossing them in the compost bin instead. Potatoes can make the whole stock starchy and gummy. Zucchini and beans may leave a bitter aftertaste. And beets can make the stock red (which I don’t mind sometimes). Broccoli, radish and cauliflower can be added but be careful with the quantities as their flavours can get overpowering.

To pack a massive punch of flavour add the rind from hard cheese like parmesan. This is optional.

Method –

  1. Heat a large pot over medium flame and add oil, quartered onions and garlic. Do not stir. You’re looking to slightly char the onions and garlic. This should take about 2 mins.
  2. Add all the other ingredients and let them sweat for about 4-5 mins.
  3. Add enough water to cover all the vegetables.
  4. Set the flame on medium high, once you begin to see little bubbles around the edges and it’s only just beginning to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer.
  5. Cover with a lid and let it simmer for an hour.
  6. Strain with a fine sieve and store.

I like to divide this stock into smaller portions and freeze it.
Use it to make soups, pulao, risotto, stews, add to curries or even uplift regular boiled rice, quinoa or any other grain. You’ll have enough for weeks to come.

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