My Broth is Boss.

We make broth now. It’s a thing.

It’s also added a layer to my composting routine that makes me feel like a total rockstar. Brothstar.

Life shouldn’t be any more complicated than it needs to be, so my forays into the world of food scrap composting have all been pretty straight-forward up until the broth-revelation of 2015.  Produce food scraps. Put in bucket on countertop. Ignore it as it piles up in there over the course of a week or so. Or so. Bemoan biology, the unrelenting ring-master of our countertop situation as she turns the bucket into an oozing sensory experience. Eventually, I dump it in a compostable bag and throw it in the freezer (or on the deck in winter, because we are in-tune with the benefits of each season), waiting to be tossed into the food scrap drop site bin at work. Eventually. Reread this paragraph with that clown-car music in the background if you aren’t already feeling my kitchen circus chaos.

So it may be surprising to learn that I’ve complicated matters, but for rich, delicious reasons.  It turns out, there’s so much wiggle room between “I’m not using this bit” and “fetid mass composting on my counter.”

We’ve instituted three new containers at our home: the Leftover Bin, the Scrap Bag, and Carcass Central.

Leftover Bin serves as a catch-all for bits of food that formerly languished in individual, frosty silos of food segregation in our fridge. Most of the time they were forgotten and ended up pre-composting for a while before being added to the countertop compost circus discussed earlier. Now, that half a clump of cilantro joins half a pear, leftover salad mix, and half a brick of cream cheese in a plastic shoe box, front and center, reminding snackers and meal-fixers that there are all kinds of dribs-n-drabs to pick at and incorporate with impunity.

Leftover Bin has seriously cut down on our food waste because I can see what we have all the time, and it also allows me to spot the golden opportunity, the brief window between still usable and (ugh!) moldy. This is where Scrap Bag comes into play: we keep a scrap bag in the freezer where wilted produce can go when it is past the point of “mmm yummy” but isn’t ready to rot quite yet. Since there’s already a bag accepting these bits, its easy then to also add prep waste that might still be usable like greens or the ends of veggies.

Carcass Central is another freezer bag, home to the occasional supermarket roasted chicken skeleton or the bones from one of our own cook-ups.  I just toss them in and forget about it.

Until broth day.

Take stock, make stock.  We pick out anything usable in Leftover Bin and combine with the
Scraps and Carcasses.  Boil. Behold the steamy succulence of broth.   There’s a zillion ways to do it, but just do it.  I boil all bits in a huge stock pot for many hours, adding water as I think of it, and after a few hours let it cool.  I strain the bits out and add them to the traditional compost bin to continue the inevitable decay, then pause to celebrate how I sucked the marrow out of life, and all those scraps, as I ladle the broth into jars and refrigerate.

“You are amazing. So is your broth. Or stock. Whatever. Amazing.” I coo. Later, I’ll make a delicious and hearty soup that will be rejected by at least 50% of our home’s residents for being too brothy or too chunky and it too will wend its way to the compost bin, having had a richer experience for it.

By Sarah Lerohl, Environmental Program Coordinator