Taking Stock

I received an interesting letter the other day, from a girl who works in a yoga ashram in New South Wales. Thought I’d share the exchange:

Dear Kurma, I work at an yoga ashram in New South Wales. I have just been given the responsibility of running the kitchen after working there 8 months. I implemented a new system for stock (before we were not making stock) and it has been going well – a few hitches – but we solved those.

We are now fine tuning, but the issue has come up that it is not the ‘yogic way’. I see it as a way of saving food, making better flavours, cutting costs. Surely throwing food away is less yogic! What are your thoughts?

How long should a vegetable stock be kept in the coolroom? How long should vege peelings be kept in coolroom before being cooked? Can storing (good condition) scraps be of any health risk?

boiling pot:

My reply:
Hello Lisa, Thanks for the letter.

Well, I come from a culinary tradition in temple kitchens where food is always prepared fresh, from scratch. There is, in fact, no such thing as a refrigerated pre-prepared stock in the vaisnava or brahmin kitchen tradition of India, since such food, left for some time, would be classes as tamasic, or food in the ‘mode of ignorance’. One could, in that tradition, prepare stock of course, but it would all be used up in ‘one sitting’ so to speak, not kept for leftover use. Furthermore, in that temple kitchen tradition, foods are offered to the temple Deity and then become ‘prasad’, and that prasad is never mixed with other foods.

Having said all that, we live in a world where practical considerations need to be factored into our lives. And wastage, for sure, is a major consideration in bulk cookery. It is not yogic, or godly, to waste food. So a balance needs to be established.

If I was in your position I would consider freezing leftover stock, not simply refrigerating it in the coolroom. Freezing is a safer way of preserving foods.

As far as transforming scraps into stock, I would suggest they be used only the day they are produced, and kept no longer. Old scraps are indeed a health hazard. If they cannot be made into stock that day, perhaps they could be made into compost, another way to avoid wastage.

Each day, you can easily have a stockpot bubbling away. I would then label the stock with the date it was made and freeze it. Heavily reduce the stock and strain it so it does not take up too much space.

Bulk cookery requires keen discrimination, patience, and on-the-spot practicality. Best of luck! This is my perspective. Hope it is of some help. Very best wishes, Kurma
Posted by Kurma on 19/6/06; 7:37:18 AM

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