Sunday, March 29, 2009

Broth, baby, broth!

Here’s one for the Zen masters among you: is a peasant truly a peasant if she buys pre-packaged vegetable broth at the village store? Probably not. Commercial broth is in the same food family as boxed muffins and pancake mixes and packages of instant rice pilaf. Somehow the modern food industry has convinced many consumers that these things are difficult to make and that we can all save precious time if we shell out a few bucks more for the pre-packaged, instant ingredients. But all the items mentioned above are scandalously easy to make from scratch and cost very little when made at home.

Whenever Josh and I cook, we keep a Tupperware container on the counter into which we put the onion and garlic ends, as well as the vegetables peels and ends. (Of course, if you’re going to do this, a word of advice: wash your vegetables before peeling so that the peels you’re saving will be free from dirt.) Some nights, it might just be a bit of onion; on another night, it may be carrot peels. When we get enough of it collected, we boil it down in plenty of cold water until the vegetables are virtually colorless. If we happen to have broiled a chicken, then we’ll throw our vegetable scraps in the pot with the chicken bones and fat to make a tastier broth. So to recap: throw your scraps in a pot (with chicken bones or meat if you wish) with cold water and boil them down until they are leached of color. Strain the liquid through a colander and that’s your vitamin-packed broth (aka veggie water).
Peasants and subsistence farmers and many others have been making homemade broth for generations. We’ve been doing it ever since we read about it many years ago in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. Not only are you getting the most out of the money you paid for your vegetables (which can be significant if you buy organic veggies), but you are also extracting all of the nutritious vitamins and minerals that can be added later to other food. We use it regularly instead of water when we make rice, bulgar, quinoa, etc., or we use it as a base for our soups. When we make a large batch of broth, we usually can it. For information on canning, visit the Colorado State University Extension website:

1 comment:

  1. I make stock regularly, but don't can it. Instead, I freeze it, using half gallon cardboard milk containers, tops cut off and rinsed, as containers. You can line the container with a re-used plastic produce bag and seal it with a twist tie. When I need stock for soup or whatever, I just pull out a container, defrost and use. If I make a double batch of soup, I use the same method for freezing soup. I usually write the contents and date on the outside of the container, since I usually have a great deal of stock and soup in the freezer at any given time.