Saturday, March 31, 2012

Waste Not : Bento Scrap Veggie Soup Stock

Occasionally someone asks me what I do with all the wasted food when I cut it into shapes - I don't just throw it away do I? Well, it doesn't make that much waste, the pieces I cut off are pretty small...

... but no, I don't throw it away! There are many ways that I make use of my bento scraps. One of them is making vegetable soup stock! It can take a while to make enough scraps for stock though, so I toss all those little bits of carrot, peppers, cucumber and celery in a vacuum bag in my freezer. I also add celery and carrot tops, potato peelings and onion skins from other meals, and any veggies that are no longer looking their best - my sproutlets won't eat ugly tomatoes :) I even toss in apple scraps when I make things like apple flowers. I really like the vacuum seal bags because I can add to the bag then pump the air out again, and my scraps don't take up much space in the freezer.

This is the recipe I follow for stock.  When I realized bento lunches were going to make veggie scraps, I looked at a few online, and tried this one from Simple Bites' Homemade Vegetable Soup 101
I've only tried Method 2 so far - delicious!
Vegetable Stock: Two Methods

4-6 cups of scraps
bay leaf
black peppercorn
clove of garlic 
Method 1: The Quickie

Add all ingredients to a 5 quart pot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat.
Reduce temperature to medium and simmer stock for one hour.
Follow directions for straining and storing below. 
Method 2: The Flavor Booster

Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss scraps and garlic lightly with 1 Tablespoon olive oil and place in a shallow roasting pan.
Roast for 20-30 minutes (depending on size and variety of scraps) until caramelized, but not charred in any way.
Transfer roasted vegetables to a large pot and cover with cold water. Add bay leaf and peppercorn and bring to a boil over high heat.
Reduce temperature to medium and simmer stock for one hour.
Follow directions for straining and storing below.

Straining and Storing the Stock

Cool stock completely to lukewarm, then strain and discard (or compost) the solids.
Pour stock into clean jars, leaving a good half-inch of headspace. Cool completely in the refrigerator.
Freeze for up to three months or store up to five days in fridge.

Making homemade veggie stock is just one of the ways I've made use of bento scraps. It's not all vegetable scraps after all, there are all those little bits of ham and cheese too ...  one of the things I like to make with those leftovers is quiche, which I shared about in this post, and I hope to share more bento scrap recycling ideas in future posts :)


  1. Great post! I've been saving veggie scraps for a while and just made my first batch of vegetable broth a few weeks ago. I just tossed all of the scraps in with some thyme and a little bit of salt... I didn't know that roasting the vegetables first would boost the flavor- I will definitely try that next time! Thanks for the tip.

    Love the ideas for recycling Bento scraps... I don't cut cute shapes very often (much to my daughter's disappointment) but when I do, my children are usually nearby and scavenge the scraps before I can do anything else with them :)

  2. I definitely need to do this, veggie scraps are my biggest waste, after bread. I need to start making breadcrumbs too. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  3. I always knew they don't get to waste. Moms like you always have a back up for stuffs that's food related. Love your kitchen innovations. I always learn something from you. I am a Bento blogger as well but never cut them into shapes. My third grader is not so keen about cute bentos that's why. He wants his lunch as simple but healthy as possible. That's the reason why I satisfy myself with your posts and other bento bloggers out there. So far, you are my most favorite :)

    1. Wow, thanks Marie! I know your blog, you have that neat round divided container that reminds me of a peace sign :) My 10 year old is past the cute shapes too.


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