STOCKing up

Stocks are up at my house today. Homemade vegetable stocks, that is 😉  It’s one of those eazy- peazy things I do to save money and eat healthier, while  helping us to reduce our dependence on store-bought goods. If those weren’t good enough reasons, I’m able to make it from otherwise wasted foods, and I wrote recently about how I’m trying to reduce that too. Here’s how easy it is. I save all my onion, celery and carrot tops, mushroom stems, squash and tomato ends and other vegetable scraps in a gallon sized plastic bag in your freezer. When the bag is full, it’s enough to make about 7 or 8 quarts of rich, golden brown, good tasting stock that can be used in any recipe that calls for it. Here’s the before:

Dump the frozen contents into a large stock pot, and add 8 quarts of water, 4 bay leaves, 12 whole peppercorns, 4 crushed garlic cloves and 1 heaping tsp of whole thyme. Then I usually add a couple of diced sweet red peppers that are diced and frozen or dried when the garden’s is pumping them out faster than we can eat them, 2 or 3 quartered potatoes or turnips, (a good way to use culled potatoes, with the bad parts cut out) and then, depending on how much celery, carrots and tomatoes I see in the bag, I’ll add a few more of those things if necessary. I also added the leftover cooking liquid I had from a pot of fresh green beans I’d cooked earlier in the day to make part of my 8 quarts. Notice too, there’s no added salt. Most commercial stocks are heavily salted because I don’t think they add things like red peppers and thyme. Salt is cheap, after all. Anyway, bring  it all to a boil, then simmer while covered for a couple of hours on the stovetop, woodstove or solar cooker. Strain the stock, discarding the vegetables and seasonings. Ladle hot stock into hot, sterilized  jars and process at 10 pounds for 35 minutes. Pints for 30 minutes. I’m guessing that you could add chicken or beef  drippings to this recipe for a meat-based stock, but I’ve never tried that. Seems it would be a good way to use up those pan drippings after cooking those things. Chickens and worms both LOVE the soft-cooked veggies that are left over from this, or you can toss ’em on the compost pile. Here’s the after:

Spot checking at a local grocery store, a quart of Swanson’s vegetable broth costs $3.29. At that price, the 8 qts I made today then are worth $26.32 (plus tax!). And since I’ve started using Tattler Brand Reusable Canning Lids and Seals, I don’t have to pay for metal ones anymore either. All my canning jars were collected free over the years, and my canner is now 38 years old. My total cost: about 60 cents worth of carrots. The self-sufficiency and pride in producing something that tastes so good from food waste~ PRICELESS!

So, what’s this got to do with Transitioning? Skills like growing food and preserving it for later use, being able to repair things rather than buying new ones, or repurposing something old into something new can help us cultivate an inner resistance and resilience that, regardless of where the stock market ticker stops at the end of the day,  can help us feel in control of our lives, at a time when many of us are having  a hard time with that. Even if Peak Oil was a myth, even if our futures turn out rosy, isn’t that a good feeling to have? 


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[…] STOCKing up […]

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Yours is so red and yummy looking! Mine usually comes out so gray-green. I usually give our daily scraps to the chickens, so probably do not collect as much goodness as you have. Every now and again, usually during our sons sport seasons, my dinner plan ends up going wayside to extended hours at the various fields and the too convenient snack shacks there. As a result, my produce drawer usually mostly green, starts looking droopy. Those are the times I normally make stocks. (The chickens LOVE the cooled, cooked veggies and apple peels strained out. too!) I usually do not can mine though, I refrigerate the bulk while using ice cube trays to small batch freeze, then store the cubes in freezer bags. A couple of cubes in a small frying pan reduces the oils and butters we’d use otherwise to saute things. I’m LOVING your blog!

Comment by Karen

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