40% OF ALL THE FOOD THAT IS GROWN, HARVESTED AND PROCESSED IS WASTED.
It's a scary thought, but it's about more than the huge waste. When food scraps go to landfill they break down without oxygen, causing them to release methane into the atmosphere - a greenhouse gas 30x more potent than carbon dioxide. But don't fret! There's plenty of ways of making sure you waste as little food as possible. Even what we might consider 'scraps' are actually still packed with heaps of nutritious goodness and can be used for the base of entire meals! One of the best ways to do this is by turning your leftover food scraps or sad wilted greens into vegetable stock. Here's how to do it:
1. The first thing to do is collect all your scraps! Keep them in Tupperware container in the fridge or freezer so they don't rot or go mouldy.
Pretty much all vegetables can be used to make your stock! Wash and save the roots, stalks, leaves, ends, and peelings from vegetables such as leeks, scallions, garlic, fennel, chard, lettuce, potatoes, parsnips, green beans, squash, capsicums, eggplant, mushrooms, and asparagus. You can also throw in Corn cobs, winter squash skins, beet greens, and herbs like parsley and coriander.
On the other hand, vegetables like cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and turnips can have a very overpowering taste so you might want to avoid putting them in your stock. We once used kale stems and it turned out somewhat bitter tasting. Plus, you can eat broccoli stems (like in a stirfry) so there's no need to throw them out in the first place!
If you really want to bulk out your stock, you can also use fresh vegetables such as chopped onion, carrot and celery. These three vegetables are usually used as the base for regular vegetable stocks.
Now to the cooking stage!
2. Put 1-2 litres of water in a pot on the stove and add your food scraps to the pot. There's no hard and fast rule here for water to food scrap ratio but I use about 2 litres of water for a 1 litre tub of food scraps.
3. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil, then partially uncover the lid and simmer for about 45 minutes.
4. Strain the liquid into a container or jar and let it cool down on the bench before refrigerating.
This is your stock! It can be a different colour depending on what veg you put in there. If there's any beetroot cuttings or red onion it might be a purpley colour. If there's heaps of greens there may be a more yellowy green tinge and if it's mainly roots potatoes and onion it will probably be more brown. They're all good so don't worry if the colour is a bit funky!
The stock can be used right away or stored in the fridge for 3-4 days in a sealed jar or container.
If you're not ready to use the stock soon, you can also pop it in a container in the freezer for 4 to 6 months!
Now, although this is a good way to make the most of the nutrients from your food scraps, there will still be leftover bits and pieces after the stock is made. The best thing you can do with these scraps is put them in a compost heap or worm farm. If you don't have access to one yourself you can jump online to find someone close to you who has a compost or even chickens! You may even know a friend or family member who can take the scraps with you.
Now all that's left to do is enjoy your delicious homemade veggie scrap stock!