Stock is a liquid flavour base made by simmering vegetables and bones in water for use in many dishes like soups, sauces and stews. The main difference between stock and bone broth is that bone broth is cooked for much longer to release more nutrients into the liquid. Here are three ways I get zero waste stock and broth.
1. Homemade liquid stock / broth
I’ve been making my own vegetable, chicken and beef stock since I began my plastic free, zero waste journey four years ago. It saves me money, reduces packaging waste and can be made from food scraps. I literally throw my vegetable scraps or excess produce from the vegetable garden into a large pot and boil it down for a long period of time. If I’m making chicken stock or beef stock (or broth) I will add bones left over from other meals that I’ve stored in the freezer until I can use them. Just remember that scrap stock and broth won’t have the same qualities as following a specific recipe or produce consistent results. There are many recipes online for stock and broth if you want to give it a go.
2. Dried stock / broth
When I started meal planning for zero waste hiking I really wanted to ‘up my game’ and come up with flavoursome, nutritious hiking food. A key ingredient in many homemade dehydrated hiking meals was stock powder. I’d already tried dehydrating coconut milk with terrible results so I really wasn’t interested in trying to dehydrate other liquids at home, plus it takes ages! It was time to head to the shops and find a zero waste stock powder.
I know many of you aren’t interested in stock powder for hiking reasons but some of you may prefer to keep stock in the pantry rather than take up large amounts of freezer space with frozen liquids, and some of you probably just don’t want to make stock or broth yourself because of the time commitment. So here are three low waste dried stock/broth options I found in my local stores that I’m happy with.
The first one is San Elk Artisan Stock which is certified organic, gluten free, lactose free, yeast free, MSG free, additive free, and it has no palm products, no maltodextrin and is hand crafted in West Footscray, Victoria, Australia. The packaging is kraft paper cardboard which is reusable and recyclable. It doesn’t seem to be compostable because on closer inspection the inside of the tube seems to be coated with a light layer of plastic. I’ve emailed the company to confirm this (see the comments section below for the response from San Elk). The lid is secured with a sticker on two sides.
The second one is Tonemade dehydrated bone broth which is also certified organic using local real food ingredients and no preservatives or additives. It’s also hand made in small batches right here in Gippsland – Inverloch to be precise. The packaging is a glass jar which can be reused or recycled.
The third option I found is OXO Stock Cubes with the cubes packaged in aluminium foil and then a cardboard box which can all be recycled.* However, this product does contain ingredients like additives and preservatives that some people may be trying to avoid like MSG and gluten. It doesn’t contain palm products like some stock cubes do.
You might want to check out this great article I found by Frankie Bell from Additive Free Kids which also examines the ingredients of other stock and broth products, some of which look to be in glass jars, which might be in your local stores: Sneaky tactics to watch out for when buying additive free stock / bone broth
*Aluminium foil is usually too small and light to be collected at a materials recovery facility for recycling but if you scrunch all your foil into a ball the size of a tennis ball the sorting systems will be able to collect it for recycling.
3. Homemade dried stock / broth
I got the third method for getting zero waste stock from Bella of Stella’s Pantry. She gave me a recipe to make my own dried stock which doesn’t require dehydrating your own liquid stock because (if you’re lucky) you can buy the dried ingredients from a bulk store. Or, like me, you might already have some of the ingredients dried from your vegetable and herb garden. I haven’t made my own dried stock yet because I have the ones I purchased to use up first. Again, there are plenty of other recipes online to make your own dried stock or to dehydrate your homemade liquid stock if you want to do that.
Do you have any favourite stock recipes you’d like to share or stories to tell? I’d love to read them.
P.S. If you are near Traralgon, I have an event coming up on 5th July that you might be interested in. Check it out here.
I often reduce my stock until it is quite strong and freeze it for later use.
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And then do you add more water again later so that it doesn’t take up as much freezer space? That’s a good idea, but I think I’d still find it a bit annoying to defrost when I haven’t planned ahead – which is often. 😅 It has been handy having an instant pantry option, so I think I’ll stick with a bit of both in the future.
I borrowed a thermomix from a friend recently and one of the first things I made was a vegetable stock paste. I keep it in a jar in the freezer and it just had a bunch of vegetables and salt in it! All of which I could get packaging free!!
Has me looking seriously at all the second hand thermomixes popping up on bss sites in my area ha ha.
I’ve also seen bone broth powder for sale at The Source shops!
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Thanks Nicole, I often think about the possibility of getting a thermomix too. It’s good to know they can do this as well, and thanks for sharing about the bone broth powder at the Source.
More information from San Elk:
Thank you for getting in contact and for your kind words and support it means so much to us. Packaging and reducing waste is something that is very important to us, it is definitely very challenging trying to find suitable food packaging that will keep the product fresh, complies with the Australian food standards, is environmentally friendly, contains minimal plastic and not extremely expensive.
Most of the cardboard tubes made in Australian didn’t have a suitable food grade liner, were triple the price to modify and not environmentally friendly. We went overseas to find a company that pride themselves in producing premium quality tubes that are reusable and recyclable and could make tubes with an environmentally friendly PET food grade liner that complied with the (FSANZ) Food Safety Australian and New Zealand Standards to keep our product fresh as we don’t use any preservatives or additives in our products. Biodegradable packaging with a corn starch based food grade liner wasn’t suitable for our product as it can only keep particular products fresh for a short period of time.
It was important for us to have packaging with minimal waste and plastic by not having a plastic peal back seal on the inside or an additonal plastic bag with the product inside. We tried many options for the tamper proof seals on the outside of packaging but in order to sell to stores we had to get labels that complied with food safety standards to prevent product from being easily opened/tampered.
We strongly encourage reusing and recycling our container and have been working closely with bulk wholefood stores to encourage customers to refill their containers when they run out and wish to top up on stock. We also donate containers to schools to use for projects.
We been in contact with food packaging manufacturers in Australia and trying to work with them to consider and source more environmentally friendly packaging options and reduce plastic packaging.
Keep up the great work that you do, as it’s so important to educate and encourage people how to reduce plastic and waste.
More information from Tonemade Facebook Post:
Sustainability and working towards zero waste are at the forefront of our business practises and ethics. At this stage we have very minimal waste and utilise recyclable products but we are still looking to move towards becoming a closed circle zero waste company.
Our current practises:
– The minimal production waste we products is able to be composted via our local council systems
– Jars are used to package the majority of our bone broths so that they can be reused or recycled
– Repurposed cardboard and recyclable packaging used when shipping our products
– Utilise compostable rubbish bags and biodegradable tasting cups when at markets
Changes we are looking to implement:
– Compostable mailing bags for online orders
– Compostable pouches for our bulk products
– A return system for direct customers to send back jars to be repurposed
– Utilising solar energy for production
Remember, small individual changes add up to a big collective impact!