Dinner

By Madeleine Ignon | February 7, 2011

Photo: Madeleine Ignon

As a vegetarian (though not a strict one), I find myself constantly cooking with vegetable broth. Buying good broth is expensive, and I never know what to do with those boxes with the screw tops. I also hate seeing perfectly good parts of vegetables go to waste. So, out of necessity, economy, and a concern for my overflowing compost bin, I started making my own vegetable broth. It is easy, only takes a few hours, saves money, and lets you get the most out of your produce.

I add it to tomato sauces and homemade hummus.  I use it to cook beans, chilis, or when un-freezing frozen vegetables. Cooking brown rice in vegetable broth gives it a richer taste and adds a deep brown color. (I have to give my mother credit for this technique-it was one of the first things she taught me about the basics of cooking.) Cooking with homemade broth gives dishes a more personal touch, and you will be more in control of the flavors. If you’re feeling creative, try a few versions with different vegetables, or buy specific vegetables you think will complement each other.

When chopping up an onion, a head of broccoli, a cucumber-any vegetable that leaves you with skins, ends, or cast-offs-save them and store them in your freezer. Leek and kale stalks, artichoke leaves, potato skins, carrot tops, and tomato cores all work really well. You can even include fruit: if you’re hulling strawberries, toss their tops in too, but banana peels and apple cores are out. When you’ve amassed a significant amount of frozen scraps, dump it all in a big pot on your stovetop and add about twice as much water. No need to get technical or precise since it’s just like making a pot of stew or soup with your leftovers.

Madeleine Ignon is a Los Angeles native, recent graduate of Connecticut College, and current resident of San Francisco. She is an artist (see her work at madeleineignon.com), food lover, and a most-of-the-time vegetarian whose philosophy in the kitchen is that things should be kept simple, intuitive, and sustainable when possible.

  • 2-3 cups of frozen vegetable/fruit scraps (depending on how much stock you want to make, and how strong you want it to be)
  • 4-6 cups of water (again, depending on quantity and concentration)
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Dashes of whatever extra fresh or dried spices/herbs you like (suggestions: rosemary, basil, dill, paprika, sage...depending on what vegetables you use it's nice to think about what would compliment the flavors.)

Directions

1. Add scraps, salt and pepper, and spices, and get water up to a boil, then leave it on a low to medium heat for a few hours, stirring occasionally.

2. After 2-3 hours on the stove, let it cool and strain it with a pasta strainer.

3. After that, it's ready to get put into containers and stored in the fridge. I usually use a couple mason jars. Without an airtight seal, the jars or cans of broth will keep in the refrigerator for about two weeks, which I find is plenty of time to use it up. Or you could even pour the broth into an ice tray and stick that in the freezer until you are ready to use them like vegetable bouillon cubes. In most ice trays, the cubes will come out as roughly a large tablespoon.

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