Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Don't Throw That Away!

I have wonderful childhood memories of my Pop-Pop. He was so health conscious and thrifty. He taught me things like, "if you're ever lost in a jungle, just follow around a monkey and eat what he eats to survive." He always grew his own tomatoes and some herbs. He built his own composting drum and loved to compost for his garden. He would often enter a kitchen, look upon some water used for steaming and say, "save that to use in a soup." While I don't recommend or advocate this, since during my babyfood making adventures I learned that nitrates build-up in the steaming water, I believe that he did have a good soul for trying to create very little waste and be so self-sufficient. I will always remember his thrifty, thoughtful ways, before they were considered "green."

I have some kitchen practices that I would like to share with you. They are not only healthy, but they all have nutrition benefits for you and your family, and they might even save you some money.

First and foremost, I never ever throw away bones. I keep separate bags in the freezer for chicken bones, rib bones, ham bones, steak and beef bones, etc.. that I eventually use to make bone broths with. Bone broths are wonderful for recipes that call for stock or broth, sauces, or just used to cook rice, noodles, quinoa, and cous cous. Just the other night I added it to taco meat instead of the usual water.

I make my broth in the slow cooker, overnight. You can experiment with your slow cooker's high and low settings, but I use mine on high. I have an older ceramic Rival. You may choose to save vegetable ends and other leftovers to throw in the stock. I have a friend who saves her ginger trimmings. Celery leaves and the woody part of the stalks work nicely for me. Any leftover herb branches can go in. Always add onion. I dislike carrot in my broth, but you can always throw that in there. I usually put a pinch of whatever fresh herbs I have on hand into the mix, some thyme, a bay leaf, whole peppercorns, etc...

When I make a chicken broth, I put leftover bones, neck bones, a whole carcass, veggies and herbs, whatever is on hand all in at once. I fill my crock pot with water a few inches from the top, turn it on and go to bed. When I get up in the morning, I turn it off and let it set a few hours until it cools enough to handle it. I skim it, then strain it, then pour it into a glass bowl to store in the fridge. Usually this broth will gel-up nicely, and all the fat will rise to the top. I skim the chicken fat, otherwise known to our dear Bubbie as schmaltz, and use it later for cooking savory veggies in.

When I make a beef broth, ham stock, or leftover pork rib bone broth, I add 1/2 a cup of apple cider vinegar to the cooking water to help extract the calcium from the bones. I'm no chemist, but I think any acid will do. I use the similar components- leftover steak bones, the bones from lamb shanks, leg roasts, and sometimes I will buy marrow bones from the freezer next to Whole Foods fresh meat case. You can try to ask your butcher for soup bones, but I would be selective about the quality, as older marrow bones and animals with osteopenia/osteoporosis contain more fat. Anyway, I simmer the bones in the crock pot for at least an hour with the vinegar water, then add veggies and herbs and go to bed. I let that simmer until the late morning or early afternoon the next day, let it sit turned off for a few hours, skim it and then put it in the fridge just as I would with the chicken broth. The best part of the beef broth is getting all that delicious tallow off of the top. Tallow is a very high quality cooking fat, preferred by French chefs for potatoes and all sorts of things.

If you are worried about the health consequences of animal fats and by products such as broth, don't be! Do some research and you will learn that studies show that refined and processed vegetable oil wreaks havoc on your vessels (scaring) and overall health. The vegetable oil industry has power, lobbyists, and over time they have persuaded America to give them lots and lots of money.

Broth is a wonderful food, low in calories for those counting and such a great, natural source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, other trace minerals, glucosamine, chondroitin and if you get a good gel formed once your broth is cool, you will know that it's rich in gelatin. I could go on and on, but I urge you to experiment and do your own research.

There you have it. I make broth and I save fat. Those are just a few of my thrifty ways in the kitchen. Next time you think of throwing away those bones or vegetable stumps, remember that if you do, you are doing your family a huge disservice. You could use those in a soup!

INTERESTED IN FAT INFORMATION?

A very wordy, albeit wonderful, article on "The Oiling of America"

Quick Guide to Fats

INTERESTED IN BROTH RECIPES?

Learn Professional Chef Caroline Wright's Secret Ingredient in her broth!

Mirj's Don't Throw Away That Turkey Carcass recipe on RecipeZaar- 5 star ratings

INTERESTED IN BROTH INFORMATION?

The Benefits of Bone Broth


Health Benefits of Bone Broth

EXTRA TIPS:

- IF you can get a hold of chicken feet, calves hooves, or even swine hooves, they are rich in gelatin and will make your stock extra-special.

- My husband's mother's Jewish Grandmother would buy live chickens, and make soup from there. She always recommended finding a chicken with yellow skin, and touted their superiority.

- If you have made lots of stock and you don't have an immediate use for it, it freezes wonderfully. Portion it out in 1 cup measurements and freeze it in the proper containers.

7 Comments:

Anonymous raeleann said...

Enlightening! I will try that with my whole chickens soon. Thanks for the insight!

April 6, 2010 at 9:58 AM  
Blogger Bethanie said...

The crock pot is a wonderful idea for making bone broths! I'm going to try it in the near future. My Grandma is a lot like your Grandfather, it sounds like. She lived through the Great Depression and has LOADS of ideas for re-using things. I love it. Great post!

April 6, 2010 at 10:29 AM  
Anonymous Emily P said...

Very good Heather! What doesn't end up in my compost is usually headed for stock as well!

April 6, 2010 at 10:49 AM  
Blogger C said...

Awesome! I love it! I have been waiting for this topic! Thanks for the details!

April 6, 2010 at 12:17 PM  
Blogger hoppytoddle said...

The Huz thinks I'm weird because I save the loaf ends from our bread to make breadcrumbs. If I started freezing bones & making my own broth, I think he'd come unglued! It IS great that you do this & thanks for sharing. If I get my big chest freezer one day I'll probably try this.

April 7, 2010 at 8:26 AM  
Blogger Thoughtful Mothering said...

That's great you're using those bread ends. I use stale bread, or sometimes sub wheat germ (in meatloaf) for breadcrumbs.

My husband might have been weary of me saving the bones... but after he tasted the stock, he's sold! Now I will look in the freezer and see that he created a stockpile for me from ribs he ate. He applauds my frugal, healthful ways... and truly appreciates them.

April 7, 2010 at 8:49 AM  
Blogger Thoughtful Mothering said...

There's no shame in less waste!

April 7, 2010 at 1:22 PM  

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