What a Waste! Don’t Throw Away Your Vegetable Peels - Make Vegetable Stock Instead

I know, saving your vegetable peels seems a little counter-intuitive - that's the gross outside part, right?

That’s right, and they have one final contribution that will help with your prep: use them to make vegetable stock. This is a trick that I picked up in culinary school. The first thing that we learned, aside from general safety (fire, knives and everything dangerous), was our knife cuts - which meant that we went through a lot of vegetables. We were encouraged to save everything that we didn’t use in class, bring it home, and use it in another way (like stock). Restaurants place a huge emphasis on ‘no-waste’, which makes sense because all businesses want to keep their margins down and stretch all resources to the furthest possible limit. This is a mentality that I try to embody at home.

For many recipes, I substitute vegetable stock when they call for water (like in my Babcia’s Cabbage Rolls Recipe). This adds some extra flavour to whatever you are making, is healthy and unprocessed, and can save you a little money.

I try to make things easy for myself- life is hard enough, so why complicate things further? Prepping for my vegetable stock requires almost no effort: I keep a large zip-lock bag in the fridge and as I peel/cut vegetables throughout the week, I put the trim in the zip-lock bag instead of the green bin. This includes onion skins, asparagus peels and the ends of veggies that you cut off because one side has become discoloured. I like to keep a piece of paper towel in the bag to help regulate the moisture in the bag - this helps keep your peels fresher for longer. Please do not use peels that have become rotten and mushy.

Vegetable Stock

Once the zip lock bag of peels is full, empty it into a large stock pot, fill it up with water and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, put a lid on it to reduce the amount that evaporates away and turn down the heat so that it gently simmers for 1 ½ - 2 hours.

Do not add salt. It won’t taste like much of anything without it but since this is something that you incorporate into other dishes you are cooking, you want to keep it salt-neutral for now so that you don’t accidentally over-salt later. When it is finished, you will be able to tell it's readiness by the colour - not the taste. It should be a medium tan to deep brown depending on the vegetables you end up using.

Strain your stock through a cheesecloth or fine sieve to get rid of all the peels and fine particles that have floated down to the bottom (very normal!) and squeeze out all of the liquid that you can from the debris. Store strained stock in containers in the fridge or freezer.

It’s that easy. Enjoy!

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