Happy Earth Week! Today I’m sharing one of my favorite cooking tricks, and it happens to be a great way to reduce food waste.
It’s extremely simple. Veggie scraps and bones, covered in water and boiled, render a fantastic broth that adds flavor to all sorts of dishes. And in the instant pot, it doesn’t even need babysitting!
Here’s what I use:
- Celery bottoms and leaves
- Carrot ends, tops, and leaves
- Onion skins and ends
- Bell Pepper tops, ribs, and seeds
- Wilted herbs – just make sure not to use too much or it will be overpowering
The proportions aren’t important. We also add jalapeño scraps when we have them, but of course this will make the broth spicy! I usually add a bay leaf or two as well. I don’t add salt to the broth because I prefer to add salt later, according to the specific recipe I’m cooking.
This is a great way to use up vegetables that are squishy or on their last legs, but don’t use anything that’s moldy or rotten. And make sure you’ve rinsed all the vegetables, and removed all stickers!
You can make a broth with just vegetables, and that will be vegan/vegetarian. Or if you’re an omnivore like we are, save your bones as well to turn it into a bone broth. This can be any bones or meat scraps, so we save chicken bones, as well as bones from ribs or pork chops, and fat trimmings. We save all of our scraps in the freezer, constantly adding until we have at least two medium containers full (6-8 cups). Once there are enough food scraps, it’s time to broth!
Pour all your scraps into the Instant Pot, then cover with water until the contents are mostly submerged. I pull my scraps straight from the freezer and dump them in.
Close the lid, and cook on High Pressure for 60 minutes.
Let the Instant Pot naturally release for at least 15 minutes before opening the quick release. There’s a lot of water here so it’s important to let it release slowly for a while.
Let cool, then drain the liquid. I use this colander that fits perfectly in my biggest Pyrex measuring cup. The pour spout makes it easy to decant the broth into containers.
Here are a few of the many ways I use the finished broth:
- Cooking dry beans in the Instant Pot
- Cooking grains: quinoa and barley are SO much tastier when cooked in broth! Great for rice, too.
- Cooking meats in the Instant Pot: two of my favorite recipes are these carnitas and this pulled chicken
- Soups and stews, of course.
And my genius friend Hannah freezes broth in ice cube trays! We do this now, too, so I can always grab a few broth cubes to add to a dish. This is great when cooking vegetables or onions on the stove, because it gives some flavor (without adding oil!) and the added moisture helps everything cook evenly without burning.
As you can see, each batch yields a lot of broth! I freeze it in jars (make sure to leave a healthy amount of air space at the top) and pull the jars out of the freezer as I need them.
I realized recently that this veggie broth packs a double-punch of Earth Love: not only does it give an extra life to food scraps, but it also means that I never have to buy broth at the store. This means less cartons and jars to be shipped and discarded.
And, of course, you can make broth without an Instant Pot. I used to do it on the stove, but without the pressure it takes a few hours for the ingredients to really release their flavors.
I hope you try it! Enjoy!