Quick Stock from Vegetable Trimmings

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by Deborah Madison
April 1997
from issue #8

If your vegetable trimmings go directly from the cutting board to the compost pile, you may be throwing out good flavor and nutrients. Many of those odd pieces—ends, peels, cores, and stems—have great potential in a quick vegetable stock.

I always start out with a few basic aromatic vegetables and herbs: sliced onion, carrot, celery, a couple of bay leaves, a handful of parsley, a few sprigs of thyme, and several smashed garlic cloves. To deepen their flavor, I cook these vegetables in a little oil or butter until they’re lightly browned. While they’re cooking, I add my vegetable trimmings as I produce them. These might include leek greens; fennel stalks; pepper trimmings and cores; tomato juice, seeds, and ends; corn cobs; skins from organically grown potatoes; mushroom stems; the tough portions of asparagus stalks; overgrown green beans; the gnarled skin of celeriac.

Then I cover the trimmings with water (2 quarts produce 6 cups stock) and a teaspoon of salt per quart of water. I simmer the pot for 25 to 35 minutes, then strain.  Now the boiled-out vegetables are ready for the compost.

Not all vegetable trimmings make good stock ingredients. Members of the cabbage family become too strong, artichokes lend a bitter flavor, and spinach tends to taste grassy after half an hour of cooking. While some people use onion skins for their color, I find that they can turn a stock bitter. Of course, any trimmings you do use should be fresh and clean.

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