Making Scrap Broth
One tip you'll hear over and over from zero waste and plastic-free proponents is to make things yourself rather than buying them in plastic packaging. There are a lot of benefits: reducing plastic packaging, saving money, better flavor and texture, reducing carbon emissions from transport. So why wouldn't you DIY?
Well... sometimes it's easier said than done. Or it takes so much time out of your day that you just can't see yourself making it on a regular basis. I feel that way about bread. It sounds like a great idea, it tastes delicious, but I just don't have the dedication to make bread on a weekly (or more!) basis!
Thankfully, this is not one of those recipes. It's quick, it's painless, and it tastes amazing! And the best part? It uses the scrap vegetables from your regular cooking. You just save your leftover carrot peels, celery leaves, onion ends, and mushroom stems in the freezer until you have enough for a batch of broth. Throw it all in a pot with water, simmer for 45 minutes, add some salt, and...that's it!
Here are all the things you can save up to make broth:
Carrots + tops
Onions + skins
Ginger or turmeric
Asparagus (in small amounts)
Peas + pods
Parsnip (in small amounts)
Tomatoes + guts
Most of these I keep frozen in an old plastic bag I've saved and reused for years. When the bag gets full, I throw it all in the stock pot and cover with water. I like to add in some soy sauce, bay leaves, and peppercorns, but that's totally optional. Then I forget about it while I make the rest of dinner. Later I strain the broth, throw the scraps in the compost, and divide the broth into containers for the freezer. I repurpose yogurt containers (yet another thing I don't make at home as often as I would like) so I can freeze a quart at a time, but you can use any sealable container you have. Canning jars, silicone bags, repurposed containers from pasta sauce, condiments, or yogurt. Just be careful not to overfill your containers, especially if you use glass. Leave enough headspace that the expanding liquid doesn't cause your container to burst.
As a general rule, I start with equal parts carrots, onions, and celery. However much that is, I try to use the same amount of mushroom stems. I know there are mushroom haters out there, but they add such a wonderful savory, umami flavor to the broth, it is well worth it. I throw in whatever else I have, but I don't worry too much about it. (I think that's key to this recipe: don't worry too much, it will almost always be delicious!)
It would be nice if all our efforts to reduce plastic pollution were as easy as making this scrap broth. Of course, some of them are, and we have ten easy first steps to reducing your plastic waste. But since this broth recipe is so hands-off, maybe take a moment while it's cooking to tackle another action. Write a letter or email to your representative. Make a call. Plan one more thing you can do this week to reduce your waste. Maybe you need to take the 45 minutes to rest and rejuvenate. Spend some time in nature or the garden to remember what it is we're protecting. Have a conversation with a neighbor or family member.
Not everything can be done with a 45 minute recipe. But every action is a step in the right direction.