{community voices} Homemade Veggie Bouillion

Editor’s Note: FSC Community Voices Contributor, Gina M, a local blogger at ModSchooler and a guest contributor at Albany Kid, is back with another doozie of a post: Homemade Veggie Bouillion.  Its getting food preservation serious up in here! Her first post, No-Fuss Slow Cooker Beans is also terrific, perfect for the summertime no-heat kitchen! -Christina

Ye Ole’ Crock of Veggie Bouillion

It’s full-bore summer vegetable season, and that means an abudance of great local produce is ours for the picking.  When you are paying a premium for good produce, either in sweat equity or hard cash, it makes sense to use it as thoroughly as possible, with little going to the composter.

One great idea I learned about in the late ’90s, when we were members of Homestead Farms CSA, was to make a veggie bouillion from herb and vegetable scraps.  It’s an excellent way to use up remains of expensive herbs, and the other less-used parts of vegetables.  The idea is to layer finely cut or chopped pieces of the herbs or vegetable parts with kosher salt in a large jar, and to stack these layers over time til the jar is full.  The salt cures the vegetable matter, and while it doesn’t look too pretty a few weeks in, the flavors are blending and melding.  When you are ready to use the salt, make sure it’s totally dry – you can speed the process in a low temp oven if you can’t wait, or if you like doing things in the background as life goes on, just let it dry on its own in the jar.  Once it’s dry, I like to put it in a food processor to break down any larger lumps and to mix things more thoroughly for consistency’s sake.

SUPPLES

  • Large jar
  • Kosher salt
  • Cheesecloth or other breathable fabric & rubber band to hold it on the jar
  • Scissors – best for cutting herbs and small stems, much easier than chopping with a knife, you can snip directly over the jar

TECHNIQUE

  • Using a clean jar, put in a layer of kosher salt covering the whole bottom.  Go to about 1/4″ + depth

cover bottom with salt

  • Take clean and dry veggies of your choice and finely snip or chop and add in an even layer, you should see some salt peeking between pieces

a layer of scallions

  • Add more kosher salt on the top of the veggie layer, lightly covering it – you want enough salt to keep things from getting icky

  • If you have lots of veggies or herbs to use in one sitting, just keep doing alternate layers of salt and veg, ending with salt.
  • Cover jar with cheesecloth and secure it with a rubber band

cover with cheesecloth

  • Set in non-sunny dry area, and ignore it until you have more scraps to add

What materials should you use to make bouillion?

THE GOOD

  • Kosher salt – don’t use regular table salt, the kosher style grains work best with this method
  • Carrot tops – stem and greens, they give the best body, trust me and don’t skimp on them, you’ll love the result
  • Swiss chard – use up the stems that you pull off
  • Garlic scapes
  • Celery leaves
  • Scallion and onion greens
  • Beet green stems
  • Herb stems – if they’re not hard and woody, slice ‘em up!  Basil, sage, parsley,  anything along those lines is great

THE BAD

  • Brassicas: Kale, broccoli, cabbage, mustard greens are all too strong and don’t make a nice broth
  • Woody stems like on thyme, sage or oregano aren’t a good move, you don’t want hard nuggets in the mix, and they don’t add much flavor.  Stick to the softer parts of these types of plants.

THE UGLY

  • After a few weeks, it’ll look less pretty, but this is normal (see pic below)

Ye Ole’ Crock of Veggie Boullion

QUICK HOW-TO SUMMARY: STORAGE, USES & TROUBLESHOOTING

  • Use scissors to cut herbs and stems quickly and easily
  • Make sure you use plenty of salt with thicker pieces of vegetable or herb matter to keep it from spoiling
  • Cover your jar with cheesecloth or other breathable fabric lid to keep the dust (and, in our house, pet hair) out as you let the bouillion age
  • You’ll notice liquid on the bottom of the jar after a week or two.  This is normal, and the salt will keep things from getting icky – this is what makes the flavors blend nicely for the finished product
  • If you have a full jar, but it’s not yet dried out, you can spread it out on a cookie sheet and oven dry it at 200 degrees – check often, don’t let it burn
  • Once you’ve got the dried salt, throw it all in the food processor to grind it up finer and mix the flavors and textures thoroughly, and store in dry, tightly closed containers
  • Use this instead of plain salt in most any savory dishes, it’s particularly nice in scrambled eggs, and I use it in pretty much everything from soup to meat to refried beans
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Categories: DIY, Food Preservation, Gardening, Homesteading, How To, recipe, Vegetables

Author:Gina M

Gina Martin lives in Coxsackie, NY with her husband and two children. Gina is a Contributing Writer at Albany Kid Family Travel, a leading family travel and educational enrichment blog, and is the creator of CWAPdotCWAP.com, which replaces her previous blog ModSchooler. Multiple food allergies and family health issues have challenged her to develop healthy but delicious homemade treats and staples that can pass for “regular” food.

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24 Comments on “{community voices} Homemade Veggie Bouillion”

  1. July 27, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

    Gina, this is fantastic. Thank you! I only need a big glass jar, which I just added to my shopping list. Can’t wait to add this to beans and soup.

  2. ginamodschooler
    July 27, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    Thanks! The giant jar in the pics is from WalMart, but I’ve seen similar ones at Target. I started out using quart canning jars, but filled them up so quickly it was getting crowded storing them.

  3. July 28, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    I had no idea that this was so easy. Off to find a big glass jar. Have you ever done this with sea salt?

    • ginamodschooler
      July 28, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

      I haven’t used sea salt – the person who taught me this specified kosher salt because of the texture, but also because it doesn’t have iodine. What’s happening in the jar is basically a lactofermentation reaction, I think iodine messes that up. I’m no fermentation expert though, so definitely double check!

  4. July 29, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    This sounds good but not what I expected from the title… I think of “bouillon” as a liquid stock. Why is it called “veggie bouillon” instead of “veggie stock”?

    While on the subject, do you have any tips for a liquid veggie stock? I have one: make it with lots of corn cobs from which the nibs have been shaved for another use. Annie Somerville of Greens Restaurant in San Francisco does this and the result is very reminiscent of chicken stock, oddly enough.

    • ginamodschooler
      July 29, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

      I call it bouillon because the person who taught me how to do it, a lovely lady of French Canadian extraction, called it that. Not for nothin’, but I hear “stock” and I think of a liquid, while this is definitely a dry salt, at least unless and until you add water to reconstitute it. The liquification part of the process is just part of the process, not the end result.

  5. Adrienne
    July 29, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

    Great article Gina and a better way to use up leftovers than throwing them in the compost pile! Thanks.

  6. August 2, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    This is awesome! I’ll have to do some experimenting, though. I live somewhere hot and humid from April to late October, so I’m worried about mold. I’ll have to try one crock on the counter and one in the fridge and see which one works better in my neck of the woods. Thanks so much for the tutorial.

  7. eric
    August 3, 2012 at 7:55 am #

    Gina-it sounds like you use this more as a seasoned salt, is that right? or do you use it as a stock/broth base? or… maybe both? anyway you cut it, what a spectacular idea.

  8. August 6, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

    Sorry it took a while to respond Eric (WordPress login issues) – I do primarily use it as a seasoned salt in my own kitchen, but I find it gives more ooomph to broths and stocks as well. You just need to be conservative when first trying out your mix, as going overboard can be way more salt than any human needs!

    In particular, I’ve found the best stock or broth base to be made when I’ve had lots of carrot tops and swiss chard stalks. When it’s mostly herbs it tastes nice, but there’s not as much “body” to the whole thing.

  9. Rebecca
    August 9, 2012 at 9:48 am #

    Fascinating. Is this something you keep adding to over time (if so, how long a time), or do you do it more or less all at once, then start a new jar the next time? I am suspecting the former, since you are using such a big jar.

    • August 9, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

      You suspect right, I do it over a period of months, mostly the whole growing season. I start a jar in springtime – garlic scapes & pea shoots season – and just keep layering when I get new goodies, til I run out of room. Hence the giant jar, quart sized ones fill up way too fast once carrot season hits!

      Once the jar is really full, I just let it sit and dry for a while. Basically, til I get impatient and want to start making soups, and have run out of last year’s batch, which seems to coincide with October or so. At that point, if it’s not all dry, I finish it in the slow oven I mentioned in the post, and then continue on with the food processor step, then I bottle it up. It makes a nice addition to a food gift basket for people who like to cook.

  10. Tildie
    October 5, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

    Do you put in (clean, obviously) potato peelings?

    • October 5, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

      I have not tried that. I stick to greens mostly, with some flowers (like chive or basil that’s gone flowery), not sure if potatoes would really work well – I’d worry about the starchy aspect, and would wonder if there was all that much flavor to be gained.

  11. carolann
    July 19, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

    can you add actual vegetables to this? like carrot peel?

    • July 19, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

      I don’t see why not – for what it’s worth, just make sure they’re clean and very thin. I haven’t tried it myself, as I never peel carrots that I use. I’d say whatever you put in, just make sure it’s tiny and thin so the salt preserves it and prevents rot and mold.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  3. {FSC PODCAST} Episode 6: Preserving the Bounty | FROM SCRATCH CLUB - August 30, 2012

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