How (And Why) To Boil Your “Garbage”

I don’t normally do this – boil my garbage I mean – but I did, and could not have been more pleased with the results.

A mountain of vegetable scraps had been accumulating, and this time, rather than haul them off to the farmers market – where they do the composting, so that I can say I compost, even though all I do is hand them wet garbage –  I decided to make stock.

The first time you do it, you might feel a bit odd,  which is normal, since it is not normal to stir egg shells and apple cores in a cauldron like a witch.  But here’s what you get in return:

  • The most nutritious, delicious stock, not replicable in a tin or Tetra Pak
  • The knowledge that you kept vitamins out of the landfill and ate them
  • The sheer perverse delight of boiling your garbage

Here’s how to do it:

1) Collect the scraps. (I keep them in a bag in the freezer, as seen in photo above.) Use vegetable and fruit remnants (you might want to limit it to apple and pear as citrus does not work so well, nor do banana peels), wilted spinach, lifeless celery, egg shells (they release calcium when cooked) and any chicken carcasses or piles of bones you have lying about (unless you’re going the veggie-stock route). (Avoid any vegetables that have really gone “off” as well as any food with mold or any skins that are flavorless eg.avacado.)

2)To the scraps add: 1 medium onion chopped, 1 large carrot chopped, 1 celery stalk, 2 cloves diced garlic, 1 tbsp oil (oil soaks up flavor better than water), 1 tsp vinegar (helps release calcium from egg shells and minerals from meat bones), a dash of oregano, thyme and rosemary, plus 3 bay leaves and salt&pepper.  Throw it all into a large pot, add enough water to cover the scraps and simmer for an hour. (Bring it first to a boil, then turn way down. Do not cover as this will allow for greater evaporation and flavor concentration.)

3) Once it’s cooked, pour it through a sieve…

4) And you’re left with stock!  The dark brown spots are the oil and the purple tint is from the purple kale stems that were in the “garbage”.

Don’t worry if the stock doesn’t taste like something you’d want to make a meal of – you’re using it as a base for soup, to which you can add all sorts of other flavors when the time comes.

When you’re done, take the thoroughly expired, anemic scraps –  boiled beyond recognition, and drop them in the compost.

A few other interesting bits of trivia about food waste*:

  • Americans throw away at least 25% of all food bought. (It doesn’t help that refrigerators sold today, are 50% larger than they were in 1992.)
  • Food comprises nearly 20% of landfills
  • Food scraps are one of the worst things to put in a landfill, as rotting food releases methane, a greenhouse gas 20x more potent than CO2. (Food that “rots” in a composter gives off CO2 not methane. Methane is produced when no oxygen is present, i.e. in landfill conditions.)
  • There is no correlation between income and food waste – when it comes to giving to the landfill, turns out we’re all equally generous
  • Only 3% of food waste is composted (comparatively, 64% of paper is recycled**)

So gather your wilted spinach and egg shells and make soup!

Any other tips on stock making, or other “home made” foods that most of us would never consider attempting?

Related Posts
Squash Soup with Ginger and Cumin (Recipe)
Vegetable Beef Barley Soup

January Lentil Stew (Recipe)

* These stats come from, American Wasteland, a new book that dives deep into the American garbage can.
** American Forest & Paper Association, 2009

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  • Lisa

    I love this idea. I’m just trying to think of a way to save some of the whole vegetables (that you add in addition to the scraps), so you can use them again in the stock…..

    • Michelle

      If you add vegetables that you’d like to NOT have to toss into compost after you’ve strained them, do this: cook those vegetables in the pot with the scraps, but put them in cheesecloth tied up with string (don’t pack them too tightly). After everything’s cooked, and strained, take the veg out of the cheesecloth and toss them into a blender along with the stock. So you’re basically getting thick stock with added vegs – nothing wrong with that! But you’ll want to add a bit more water to your soup recipe since your stock will be thicker than clear stock.

      • Phood

        I decided to puree a small portion of my veggies (mainly carrots) and add it into the stock as I didn’t have the heart to throw away all the ‘spent’ vegetables. 

        While it does add richness and body, a quick word of caution:

        This liquid will no longer behave as stock should in recipes. If you are using your stock for soups then it is fine. If you are trying to make a rice dish, or a reduction then stick to straining and clarifying your stock.

        You CAN take those veggies, add some stock, and water to them, throw in some barley or rice and ENJOY that and leave your stock intact.

        Hope this helps

      • Phood

        I decided to puree a small portion of my veggies (mainly carrots) and add it into the stock as I didn’t have the heart to throw away all the ‘spent’ vegetables. 

        While it does add richness and body, a quick word of caution:

        This liquid will no longer behave as stock should in recipes. If you are using your stock for soups then it is fine. If you are trying to make a rice dish, or a reduction then stick to straining and clarifying your stock.

        You CAN take those veggies, add some stock, and water to them, throw in some barley or rice and ENJOY that and leave your stock intact.

        Hope this helps

  • Stella


  • Tijen

    It’s great isn’t it?
    I’ve been doing it for many years.
    I eat big salads for lunch, I mean real big. And when I discard the stems or the outer leaves or tops, my trash bin fills up much quicker. And each time, I think of turning them into a nutritious stock which -as you say- makes a big difference when you make a soup, rice or even boil pasta. I should do some today.

  • Lacey

    I wonder if I could do this with the pulp from my juicer?

    • Lisa G

      Yes..good question ??

    • Michelle

      In theory you could but you’ve already squeezed most of the vitamins and flavor out with the juicer (you’re really just left with colorful fiber), so I think the stock might taste pretty bland…

      • reese c

        Also remember however, that fiber is amazingly good for you! I find ways to incorporate leftover fiber ( i drink green smoothies and i toss any leftover fiber from foods into my blender :)

        • Michelle

          Totally agree! The issue with tossing the fiber into your stock pot though, is that since you’ll be straining the contents after boiling, you’ll be straining out the fiber after boiling it. If you want to toss the veggie fiber bits into the stock AFTER you’ve strained it, great!

      • Bonnie

        I take the pulp from juicing things like carrots and beets and mix them with parsnips or potatoes that is mash/rice. That with a little stock or cream can make for some very nice sauces for grains/pasta.

  • Juliana

    Brilliant bit, Michelle. I make stock all the time (carcass girl, my husband calls me), but never knew about the oil, egg shells and vinegar. Thank you for the tid bit. The only thing about using scraps, is that they too have to be scrubbed clean, which I rarely do with wilted stuff. And the other thing is I generally bring the stock to boil and then take the lid off – as it gently boils, it also concentrates, making for an umamier sort of thing.

  • Lisa G

    YOU INSPIRE ME! xoxo

  • The Table of Promise

    Just this year I have been making my own stock, after I found out what was in Bouillon-EGADS!! I once said I would never make my own stocks, but it really is easier than I thought, the pot just simmers away while you do other stuff.
    I love the idea of keeping all the garbage. I have not actually done that, even though I know I should.
    Also another idea, soup is of course good–but keep the stock around in the fridge to make rice with, or add to sauces. And when I have meat in there I will boil that sucker for 4-8 hours until the bones release their gelatin. That is also super good for you.

  • Christy

    I’ve been doing this and use my scraps to make homemade dog food. I’m definitely going to give this a try, though. I forgot about the egg shells. Thanks!

    • Alissa

      That’s great, could you explain how you make homemade dog food. I have a dog that hates to eat unless it is some kind of chicken product. There are days when I have to feed him kibble by kibble just so he will eat at least one meal a day! Maybe he would enjoy homemade dog food…

      • Abby

        Just make sure you don’t add onions or other foods that are not good for dogs.

        Bones from fish and cooked bones can obstruct the digestive system. Not good!

        Chocolate, coffee, tea, and caffeinated drinks are bad. They contain caffeine which could be toxic and impact the heart and nervous systems.

        Citrus oil extracts result in vomiting. Stay away!

        Grapes and raisins contain unknown toxins which can do damage to the kidneys. Definitely considered toxic food for dogs.

        Large amounts of cooked liver cause Vitamin A toxicity, which impacts muscles and bones. Yet another item which is toxic to dogs.

        Macadamia nuts, like grapes and raisins, contain unknown toxins.

        Spoiled food and garbage – just don’t go there. Definitely considered toxic for dogs.

        Mushrooms can result in shock and cause death.

        Alcohol can result in coma and death.

        Bread dough can result in a bloated belly and then disorientation and vomiting. Since it yeast that hasn’t risen yet, you do not want it to expand in Fido’s belly, much less get stuck in the intestines! This, like the other items on the list, could be toxic to dogs.

        Onions and garlic, whether it’s raw, cooked, or powder in large amounts have the ability to damage red blood cells and cause anemia.

  • The Start-Up Homemaker

    When I’ve tried this in the past, it’s come out with a very strong bitter flavor. Does anyone have any ideas what could be causing that? Are there any veggies/parts of veggies to avoid? Thanks!

    • Michelle

      Others might have suggestions of things to avoid, but the first thing that comes to mind is what to ADD. Onions and carrots add enormous sweetness, so you might want to add more of those next time. I also keep apple and pear cores to use for the stock, which also adds some sugar. You could also add a touch of cane sugar, but I’d wait until you’re making the actual soup before judging the flavor of the stock as you’ll likely be adding MORE onions and other flavors that will mask any touches of bitterness in the stock. If you’re not adding bones or egg shells you could also omit the vinegar (which draws out the calcium.)

    • Amy

      I love making stock after the big holiday meals, none of my turkey goes to waste!

      I know that cabbage can make your stock bitter, you might want to avoid it in your stock making.

    • Phood

      I stay away from broccoli, leafy greens like spinach and swiss chard, large amounts of cauliflower (although some cooks swear by it), cabbage (sulfur compounds released during long cook time). Just another tip is to use leeks for its flavor and clarifying properties.

  • Jennifer

    So do you wash your eggs before cracking, or after or at all? I like the idea of the calcium and had never thought about saving eggshells. I am good about saving carrot and celery peelings but forget about other stuff. Thanks for this post!

    • Michelle

      I never wash my egg shells. If you’re buying eggs from a large commercial operation, they have already been washed. If you’re buying from a smaller farm, they have likely been at least rinsed with water. Once you boil them for an hour, you’re pretty much getting rid of any germs, so I would not be terribly worried about washing them.

  • Clarisse P

    Daunting because I don’t compost here in Chicago – but BRILLIANT! What a concept. So inspired.

    • Michelle

      No need to compost to make stock! Just keep any usable scraps, make the stock, then toss out the veggies AFTER the stock’s made!

  • Sara

    Who knew you could make stock from eggshells? Brilliant!

  • alana (at) the food

    you really are an inspiration! im always impressed by your thoughts!

  • Catherine S

    I’ve been doing this for the past year and a half–I just slip scraps into a Tupperware and then throw it in the freezer. When the container gets full, I add oil to a pot, saute the frozen scraps and any other fresh veg I want for the stock to the pot, saute for a few minutes, throw in bay leaf, thyme springs and whatnot and then boil while I cook and while we eat dinner. I used to think this would be a time suck, but you don’t have to watch stock at all, so it’s easy to cook while you’re doing other things. An added bonus is being able to control salt. I, like you, love salt, but even I find much store-bought stock to be too salty.

  • Steph

    I am so excited to learn about the oil, vinegar, and egg shells! I have two bags of “garbage” in my freezer right now just begging to be boiled….I’ll be adding three new ingredients this time. I know we don’t get enough calcium so the egg shells are such a cool addition.

    I just made soup the other day from a stock I’d had in the freezer for awhile….it is so much better than anything from the store! Thanks for your inspiring ideas.

  • Abbey

    I’ve been making my own stock for years but never thought of the egg shells!

    I use stock for so many things now. It’s easier to use if I pour the cooled stock into ice cube trays and freeze it. Then I put the cubes into a jar and back into the freezer. Each of my cubes is about 2 tbls. so it makes it easier to pick out just what I need for a gravy or recipe other than soup.

  • Debbie

    Excellent and very useful information, not only from the post but from the additional comments! Thanks again for the info and inspiration!

  • Danee Kaplan

    Here is my stupid question? If I cook chicken once can I use the bones again to make a stock? I realize they probably lose their flavor if slow cooked but what if they are say a rotisserie-cooked carcass?

    • Michelle

      Definitely! There is likely to be some meat, as well that still lingers around the bones, so that that will all makes its way into the stock, infusing tremendous flavor.

  • Ruth J

    Your idea of getting the most nourishment out of food is excellent.
    I would draw the line at egg shells. I think the eggs may be washed with some chemical which would leave a residue on the eggs which I wouldn’t want in my soup, etc.

  • Jess Mahler

    Fantastic! Thank you Michelle.

  • Ginny

    And I am so excited to learn that all of you keep your veggie scraps in the freezer! This is so brilliant– why didn’t I think of it? I never seem to have enough veggie scraps when I’m ready to make stock. And we’ve got a compost pile out back but I hate throwing away leafy greens just because they’re wilted. Now into my freezer they will go– both problems solved! Now here’s a question: remember your post about nutritionally impotent vegetables? After all the chopping and time in the freezer, do you think these vegetables have any nutrients left to give our stock? Not to rain on the parade, and obviously it’s hard to say for sure. Just curious…

    • Michelle

      It’s a great point and I agree that wilted, 10 day old spinach as well as frozen kale bits have fewer nutrients than their fresh-from-the-farm counterparts, but some of the nutrients are still present as well as some of the flavor, so my feeling is, better to use what IS left than toss it all away. But to your point, I certainly don’t think stock made largely with vegetable remnants is a suitable “meal” – it’s really just the base for a soup to which you will be adding other nutritious ingredients.

      If you’re using the stock to make say rice or quinoa (where the alternative would be water), you’re at least getting a few more nutrients and flavor than would with the liquid alternative from the tap.

  • Cherelyn

    Can you shed some light on whether it’s better for the planet for us to grind up garbage in the garbage disposal or throw it in the trash–assuming we are not going to boil it or compost it.

    • Michelle

      It’s a great question. From all the reading and learning I’ve done, I believe garbage disposal is “better” (environmentally speaking). Why? Food sent down the disposal gets treated with the waste water, so it does not go into landfill. When food is dumped in a landfill the major environmental costs are: 1) the space food takes up in the landfill (about 20% of landfill mass is food waste) and, 2) the methane (a highly potent greenhouse gas) that is released from the rotting food.

      Energy IS, however, required to filter and clean the food waste that goes down the drain, so it is not without some environmental cost, but if you have a choice, I would go with the drain.

      • Alex

        Food put in the disposal puts a heavy strain on our water treatment system. Some new areas are being built with a ban on garbage disposals because they have caused so many problems. I generally like to avoid making messes that someone else will have to clean up, and unnecessary disposal use falls in that category. After speaking to engineers that work with sewage, water pumping, etc, it seems wrong to me to put waste in water that we want to be clean. If you have funky wet stuff you don’t want in your house trash, just freeze it and then take it straight to your outside trash.

        • Michelle

          Thanks for highlighting this. You’re right that every municipality is different and some are more strict with regard to allowing garbage disposals and even if they are allowed they may discourage their use. So best to check with your municipal government and see what their guidelines are. This info should be available online.

        • Kelly

          I’ve always wondered how people get rid of funky wet stuff like chicken grease, etc. I have never thought of freezing it. Thanks!

  • Janet

    Yes, making stock is wonderful! It keeps beautifully in the freezer too. A few more ideas: I don’t cook for many people, so it takes time to accumulate enough veg bits for stock. I keep a baggie in the freezer and add bits of veg – onion skins, carrot tops, wilted veg, etc – as I can, and then I use it all to make stock. Also: keep fish bones and seafood shells in the freezer for the same purpose, and also keep shitake mushrooms stems!

  • Belinda @zomppa

    Quite, simply, brilliant!! I’ve been looking for alternatives to composting since I have zero access to even a patio.

  • Mark Webb

    I just started making stock a couple months ago. Here are a couple tips I’ve encountered. Take the celery, onion, and carrot that you are adding toss them with some salt and roast them in the oven for 40 minutes until browned. This deepens the flavor of the final product by carmelizing the sugars in the vegetables. I then deglaze the roasting pan with leftover wine and throw that in the stock too. Mushroom pieces or wilted mushrooms make a great addition as well.

    • Zimrhi

      I like the way you think! You might consider also roasting any bones you might be using (if using), as this will intensify the flavor that they impart to the broth. Very good!

  • Liz

    Awesome post! I always knew about saving my veggie scraps but I never would have considered throwing apples or eggshells in with the mix. That’s fantastic! I want to start making stock again this year – I have a lot of food changes I want to make in 2011 – and I will definitely now be saving my egg shells and apple cores.

    Love the blog, also, will definitely be stopping back.

  • Rivki Locker (Ordinary Blogger)

    Wow, this is BRILLIANT. I do like to make stock for my soups but I find myself scrounging through the fridge for wilted veggies whenever I need stock. I love how you have a constant supply of stock veggies ready-and-waiting. Great way to eat healthy and save $. Love it!!!

  • emiko

    This is brilliant! Been looking for a good way to use up veggie and other food scraps as here in our tiny apartment in Florence (italy) it’s impossible to compost and so much stuff goes to waste. I also love Mark Webb’s idea above of roasting first. Thoroughly inspiring stuff!

  • craige

    I can’t wait to get started! Can I dig last night’s veg scraps out of the trashcan?? Haha. No but seriously, I do have a question: Often I will buy herbs to cook with, especially in the wintertime, and invariably I will not use them all. Can I add a couple sprigs parsley or basil to the stock? Also, this is probably a stupid question, but when folks are talking about adding chicken bones to their stock, do they mean that they make one stock that has meat and veggies in it or do you do a separate stock with just bones that is your meat stock? Thanks!

    • Zimrhi

      You are limited only by your preferences. If you wish to make separate stocks, you certainly could, but combining the animal and plant components works too. It is simply a matter of taste. Same goes for the addition of fresh herbs.

    • Michelle

      I agree with Zimrhi that anything goes when it comes to stock – it’s all about mixing things up. I would highly encourage your tossing any and all fresh herbs that you may have on hand. And as for digging last night scraps out of the garbage, forage away! A few hours won’t have any detrimental effect and may even have enhanced the flavor of those peelings!

    • fromthediagonal

      Herb bundles usually are too large for me to finish in a reasonable time, so I have a couple of solutions:
      1. I chop all the parsley leaves that are in the bunch, place them into a small “ziplock”, flatten it out and push the air out before closing. This suggestion goes for all of this. The resulting flat freeze makes it very easy to break off what is needed, and it works well whether added to hot dishes or salad dressings.
      2. The stems go into another bag for cooking later.
      All other herbs are much the same.
      I try to keep them apart until use, so I will wind up with differently flavored soup bases. Even small amounts of rosemary, thyme or oregano can make a broth bitter.
      3. Cilantro does not keep for long, nor does it freeze well. So I throw leftover leaves into a cup of boiling water, cool and place into ice trays.
      4. The stems get the same treatment, but are placed into a different container for adding to the throw-away veggies.

      5.When simmering Celeriac for a vinaigrette based salad you can just use lightly salted water. I usually add onion, carrot, parsnip and potato, lift out the veggies and mash everything other than the celeriac as a side dish. Use just the cooking water Either way though, strain the liquid, as there will be a bit of grit in the bottom. There is no way you can get all of it out from between the roots.
      Guten Appetit!

  • Shelly Voss

    I purchased a slew of yellow onions when they were on sale to do some canning and had tons of skins and remnants so I decided to make a veggie stock. I started by roasting the onions with carrots and celery and I’m not sure what else I included now. The roasting gives it a deeper brown color and flavor. Then I simmered it for an hour or more. Strained, cooled then into the fridge and finally the freezer. I have never heard of adding egg shells, fruit or oil and vinegar. Great idea! I like the idea of naturally sweetening it with the fruit and adding calcium.

  • Alissa

    This may be a silly question but I am new to composting. Michelle when you say food that rots in a landfill gives off methane but food in a compost gives off CO2, what is the difference in rotting? How does a compost work that it changes what is released by the food?

    • Michelle

      In a landfill there is no oxygen so the process of food degradation is an anaerobic one (meaning done without oxygen). Without oxygen, methane is created. Composted is done with the presence of oxygen (think of a back yard composter where the food degrades with the help of air and warmth,’s done in “aerobic” conditions). When there is oxygen present, rotting food gives off CO2 (a less potent greenhouse gas) and not methane.

  • Lyn

    Here’s something I do: Keep a 1/2 gallon plastic container in the freezer labelled “soup”; any little bits of leftovers and especially all the juice from cooking vegetables go in there; when it’s full it’s time to make soup!

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  • linda hafenbredl

    This is absolutely brilliant! I will be using my pesticide-free vegetables and fruit! ( I am concerned about concentrating the toxins through boiling, especially the outer plant parts.)
    The Environmental Working Group has research identifying the conventional produce carrying the greatest pesticide burdens. This link should take you to more information…

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  • Margaret

    A friend of mine actually recommended I do this a few years ago. Since then my compost doesn’t fill up half the time. I have a slow cooker and I find you can get a better flavor stock than with boiling and simmering. For my (vegetable) recipe, I add two bay leaves, a tablespoon of turmeric, a tablespoon of soy sauce, a pinch of sea salt, two cloves of garlic, and an onion (if there isn’t enough onion ends). I save all the ends and peels of every vegetable and often HAVE to make a stock every month to keep the bag from getting too big. The stock is often very dark, deep, and delicious.

    • Margaret

      I forgot to mention this. In our house we keep a container for the compost and a container for usable (stock) scraps in the freezer. This way we divert the fruit-fly invasions Vancouver is known for.

  • reese c

    all great ideas! i have been making my own stock ( chicken & veggie ) for years now…because its the one true way to control the sodium! I just make it up, freeze it into ice cubes and I have it onhand- always!

  • Suzanne

    I have been doing this for years, but I had never heard of the egg-shell bit before! How wonderful! Stocks are really so multi-purpose, I especially love using a cube of frozen stock to deglaze a pan. Excellent!

    • Michelle

      Great idea re the stock for deglazing, will have to remember that. I’m so into homemade stock now that I’ve starting keeping two separate bags of scraps in my freezer- one with bits to be used for stock and the other for bits I can’t use (banana peels, orange peels, tea bags, coffee grinds etc) that will be carted off to the farmers market for compost.

      • Suzanne

        You know if you are freezing your garbage anyhow you might try a spot of “vermiculture” composting (worms). The garbage is frozen first so that it is softer for the worms to chew and process. My friends had a small rubbermaid tote under their sink in their apartment and made nice compost that way. I compost in my backyard, but I know not everyone has the space or time. Anyhow, I think it is really cool your Farmer’s Market offers that service for you! So jealous!

  • Kelly

    I’ve been making poultry stock and freezing it for years, but I have a silly question anyway, because I kinda don’t know how to use it.

    When the stock is done, what size container do you recommend refreezing it in, and then how much liquid do you add later when you make soup?

    I usually throw my chicken stock into a pint or quart-sized container and freeze it. I’ve defrosted on occasion and made rice with it, but I’ve never made more soup.

    What might be a good recipe for the later soup?

    • Michelle

      I store mine in a 4 quart Tupperware container in the freezer. You could also store it in a freezer style zip lock bag. When it comes to using it for soup, use it just like regular stock! It will be pure liquid so if a recipe calls for 3 cups of stock, I use 3 cups of my homemade stock. It’s true that the flavor may be more concentrated (and plentiful!) than store-bought stock or dry stock cubes, but that will only enhance the flavor of your soup, so I wouldn’t dilute it. As for recipes, here are two from my site that I love: Vegetable Barley Soup and Squash Soup.

    • Michelle

      Kelly, I should also add, that you shouldn’t be afraid to use chicken stock even if the recipe calls for say vegetable stock. Once you add all the other ingredients into the soup, you may not even taste the chicken flavor and it will likely only enhance the OTHER flavors in the soup. Try it and see…

      • Kelly

        I made vegetable stock out of root vegetables only once, and I have to say it had the strongest, most distinct flavor of all. It was quite sweet. I cooked up a grain/pasta mix with it and I thought it was delicious, although my son thought it was too strong. Then I accidentally defrosted it instead of chicken stock a week later, and as soon as I smelled it I realized my mistake.

    • fromthediagonal

      I use a gallon size freezer bag, push most of the air out and after sealing it shut place it on a cookie sheet. Quick freeze, quick thaw and very easily stacked to save space.

  • Julia

    This is an excellent post and the comments are very informative also! I’ve been making stock for a bit now. I fill up icecube trays with the stock and after they freeze I put them all in a ziploc. Each “cube” it about a 1/4 cup. No shortage of stock around our place! Thanks so much for the idea of freezing my compost vegetables. (I also do this with leftover wine, and just pop a cube or 2 into recipes that call for wine, that way I don’t have to go out and buy an additional whole bottle of a wine)

  • chet bumsted

    great article!

    i cook a big canadian thanksgiving dinner every year and several of my friends have gone vegetarian, so i prep all the veg the night before and then boil the sh!t out of the scraps – i get the most wonderful stock to use for the soup, the stuffing, the corn pudding, etc. in fact, the veg gravy was a huge hit and far more popular than the turkey gravy!

    and btw, a splash of cider vinegar not only adds umaminess to stock, it’ll help any veg dish, especially things like bulghur-stuffed eggplant.

    • Michelle

      I love the sounds of this bulghur stuffed eggplant! Can you share the recipe?

    • fromthediagonal

      as for the turkey gravy… or any gravy for that matter:
      If you are serving boiled/mashed potatoes, use that lightly salted potato water for the gravy. It works wonders. In fact, I use it for all kinds of stuff, including the scrap broths.

  • Sarah

    I have a bag going in the freezer and in just over a week it’s almost full. I’m pretty well-versed in the root veg/onion/celery/chicken type of stock, but just curious what you (or others) think about some of the more non-traditional fruit/veg additions. For example, what about other (non-citrus, banana, apple or pear) fruits, such as mango, berries, grapes? Would you recommend adding those or steering clear? Also, when it comes to veg, what do you think about adding peels of things that you typically wouldn’t eat (such as avocado).

    • Michelle

      The fruit scraps I always add are: apple cores (and peelings if you have those), pear cores, any grapes that might have gotten a little too soft. I don’t add citrus peel since the flavor can be a bit strong. I would think that mango peel would probably be ok, though I’m not sure how much flavor it would add. And bananas? Hmmm – had not thought about that, but I could see if you were making say a curry or a soup where you used coconut mix, then stock with a hint of banana might be delicious. Keep in mind though if you’re adding actual banana flesh, this will make the stock quite sweet, which may not be ideal for all uses. The peels themselves might be bitter. Any others have experience with adding banana peels to stock?

      One important thing to point out, I would highly advise against putting any fruits (or veg) in that may have gone moldy. So if you’re thinking of dumping moldy berries or grapes into the mix. Don’t. Even boiled mold is not recommended.

      As for adding peels of things like avocado my feeling is that they will not provide much flavor to the stock, so I would leave them out.

  • jMack

    Lovely. Molly Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook suggests this and I have been doing it ever since (1977!). My g.bag usually contains fronds from fennel bulbs, parsley stems and the greens from leeks. But I will now be adding eggshells, v+o and apple/pear cores! MK also suggests pineapples, melons and “evacuated corn cobs”.
    Just discovered this blog from Huff Post! Will be following!

    • Michelle

      I LOVE that term ” evacuated corn cobs!! I can’t really see them adding much flavor though while taking up a lot of real estate in the pot. Hmmm…

      As for the pineapple, I like the sounds of it but wonder if the citrus taste might be too strong in the stock. Have you ever tried tossing pineapple remnants in? Love to hear what their effect was.

      • jMack

        I’ve never tried melon or pineapple, I think I will stick to apples and pears! I generally leave my ECC stuck on the fence for the squirrels before making it to the compost. They always manage to find something left over.

  • Lea K

    Crazy! In a good way! I always feel somewhat guilty for tossing food scraps. My question is this: how do you know when your stock is … done? Meaning, the concentration of stock being equivalent to the measures called for in a recipe. If that makes sense?

    I just read something about eggs to share: they are not washed, because of the “bloom” on the shell – it keeps bacteria out. If you wash your eggs, be sure to do so immediately before cooking, else they will spoil even in the refrigerator. (Super Baby Food, by Ruth Yaron)

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  • GreenerGreener

    I love this idea. I can’t wait to try it out. I’m looking at my compost pail thinking about all the missed opportunity for making stock before composting :)

    I made a short post on my blog about your idea and linked back here.

    Here’s my post:

    • Michelle

      Great! I actually now keep two separate bags in my freezer. One with non stock ingredients (coffee grinds, tea bags etc) that will go straight to compost and one with all the stock “ingredients”!

  • Lishy’s Kitchen

    This is a great post. I tried this and blogged about the experience–crediting your entry, of course.

    Thanks for the ideas!

  • Lishy’s Kitchen

    This is a great idea! I tried it myself and blogged about it this morning. (

    Thanks for the inspiration!

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