Earlier this year, the United Nations reported that industrialized countries like the U.S. wastes approximately 222-253 pounds of food a year per capita. That coupled with my brimming compost bin led me to write this post about one of my favorite and oh-so-simple DIY projects.
I live in an apartment with a balcony that has a small utility closet where I keep a small compost bin my husband fashioned out of an old Tupperware bin and some rocks. We actually used the compost it generated for the potted herbs and cherry tomato plants we grew in pots this past summer.
If you cook at all, you know how many vegetable scraps you end up going through every week and well, our humble little bin can’t keep up. I had to find some way to divert so many scraps from both the bin and the trash can. What to do?! Start a broth bag! Folks have been doing this for years!
What is a broth bag you may ask? It’s a bag full of food scraps and those vegetables that aren’t looking top notch that you rescue and keep tucked away in your freezer until it’s full. Once full, remove from the freezer and combine a gallon size bag full of scraps with about a gallon of water into a large stockpot, add some pepper and salt if desired, bring to a boil, reduce to low and simmer for an hour or so. After an hour, strain and use to make soups, curries, stir-fries, gravies, sauces or in any recipe that calls for broth or stock. It’s that easy! And trust me, the broth is delicious.
Scrap ideas: Onion (garlic, scallions, shallots) ends and skins—that’s right the skins too! Parsley or thyme stems or other herbs that may have sat in your fridge a day or two (or week) too long and you’re sad to have to throw them away. Carrot and potato skins and ends. Celery is great, even after it has lost its crunch. Really just about any vegetable you can think of can go on the broth bag. Just make sure everything is free of mold and clean—for instance onion ends are sometimes a little dirty, so be sure to brush or rinse that excess dirt off before plopping into the bag. Also, darker colored cabbage skins and eggplant can make the stock a little bitter. Other than that, you’re good to go.
At this point, the scraps are so beat up from the boiling, that they are significantly smaller and further broken down that they can fit in my compost bin.
Over a sixth month period, our lil’ family of three managed to keep at least 30 pounds of usable food from the trash can. Any other tricks out there to help cut back on food waste?
Charis works at MOMs central.