so we get this CSA box each week. if you know me or we interact in any way, you are well aware of this ;o) each week’s box is packed with the most delicious fruit, herbs, and vegetables we sink our teeth into all year, and it is undoubtedly one of my favorite experiences of the entire year. to me, it is the epitome of summer: the play of the hot sun on warm days & cool nights creating beautiful harvests, the mouthwatering taste of the freshest, most succulent fruits & veggies, and relationships built with our kind, generous farmers. laura, adam & their staff are truly some of the most joyful people, and they are sold out with passion for all things farming & loving on their members. i’ve said it before, and i imagine i’ll say it for all of my days: we have the very best CSA, and we could not be more thankful for them.
having such an incredible bounty to work with keeps us on our toes as we make sure to take full advantage of it. that is, for anything that isn’t practically devoured on the spot. those mixed heirloom & sungold cherry tomatoes are – no joke – like candy! the carrots are what carrots should really look & taste like. i wouldn’t fathom peeling them – a little scrub, and they are good to go. then there is the garlic; we savor every clove. dustin is convinced it is the best garlic he’s ever tasted (i agree wholeheartedly but love that he’s so passionate about it). at the end of the season, we buy as much garlic as we can to last us as far into fall & winter as possible. we have growing list of go-to recipes that help us maximize every last morsel of the goodness, but there are still scraps, right? peels from cucumbers, discarded carrot tops, garlic & onion skins. it was almost painful to toss them out!
enter natalie. she’s the sweet voice behind the blog natalie creates where she writes about farming, homemaking, crafting, & every day life. she & her husband live simply & modestly and share their tips & experience as they grow their farm (the freckled hen farm – best farm name i’ve heard yet), balance budgets, eat healthily, prioritize dates & adventures, and so much more. i love her whimsy, joy, creativity, and honesty. i also love that in the middle of winter she wrote a post about making vegetable broth from scraps that may have caused me to let out an uncontrolled, “yesss!” & clap duo as i read it. i’m one of “those” people who hates to see things go to waste. even carrot peelings & onion skins, so you can imagine how much more painful it was to toss our CSA scraps. tragic, i tell you! after i read natalie’s post, i immediately started a scraps bag in our freezer. a week later we had a full gallon size bag of goodies that i got to use to make our first batch of vegetable broth.
the smell alone would be enough to woo anyone who stepped into our house as it cooked, low & slow in the crockpot. the real win, though, is that it is remarkably easy & hands-off to do. well that and, if you’re like me, there’s the beaming joy from being able to truly use every part of our harvest to its full potential. i’d say that’s a win-win-win!
:: vegetable broth ::
adapted from natalie creates
i fully understand that recipes are important, but encourage you to experiment & make it your own. as we go about our week, we save almost every single scrap from our veggies – carrot, cucumber, & potato peels, onion & garlic skins, broccoli cuttings, beet trimmings, celery tops… truly, we really do save almost everything. we keep the bag in the freezer and, since we do a fair amount of cooking, we usually fill a gallon size freezer bag of scraps each week. every other week, i load all of the frozen scraps into our crockpot, and as a result we always have homemade vegetable broth in the fridge for cooking rice & quinoa, using in soups & stews, etc.
1-1.5 gallon size freezer bags of scraps
1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
2 tsp kosher salt
2 dried bay leaves
1-2 sprigs fresh thyme, or sub your favorite herb(s)
parmesan rind, optional
- add frozen/fresh scraps to crock pot until full.
* i pretty much pack ours. in my experience, more veggies = more flavorful broth. also, with the frozen scraps, i’ve found that i usually need to break up the chunks that get frozen together.
- sprinkle the peppercorns and salt over the scraps, toss the herbs on top, and tuck in the parmesan rind.
- fill the crock pot to the rim (just below where the lid fits) & cover.
- cook for 12 hours on low.
- unplug crockpot & let the broth cool for an hour or two.
- strain the scraps. to do this, i place a fine mesh sieve over our batter bowl (purely because it can hold a large amount of liquid and has a handle and a pouring spout.). feel free to use whatever vessel works well for you for straining into & pouring from. i use tongs to pull the scraps from the broth & set in the sieve to let them drain a bit. when the sieve’s full, i dump the scraps in the garbage & continue the process until most of the big scraps are out. then i pour what’s left in the crockpot through the sieve & into the batter bowl to strain out the rest of the scraps, herbs, & spices. (again, discarding the solids.)
- pour the broth into jars of your choosing (i use mason jars), and store in the fridge or freezer.
* i know many people have success with freezing broth & sauces in mason jars, but i had one experience that left me with a cracked jar, so i stick with keeping ours in the fridge. they last for a few weeks.
yield: 3.5 – 4 quarts of broth