You Should Never Throw Out Shrimp Shells. Here's Why

When you go to buy shrimp at your local grocery store, you will likely notice that it typically comes in either shell-on or de-shelled form. Look a little closer, and you'll see that the shell-on kind is almost always cheaper. Now, of course, de-shelling your own shrimp will add another step to your cooking process, but sometimes you have to admit that the price is worth the trade-off in effort. What you maybe didn't realize, however, is that shrimp shells are actually a great secret ingredient to have on hand. 

According to Epicurious, shrimp shells are the key to an easy, flavor-packed stock, given that they're full of super flavorful sugars. With that in mind, why not save them and get even more value out of the shells?

In terms of flavor, shrimp stock is similar to clam juice, though it's doesn't carry as much of a mineral taste. It also bears some resemblance to fish stock, but is generally much sweeter. Armed with this knowledge, shrimp stock can be an incredibly versatile base for soups and stews.

How do you make shrimp stock?

If you've never used shrimp shells as the main ingredient in a stock, the process of making your own shrimp stock may seem a bit daunting. But cooking show host Kardea Brown says that it's actually one of the easiest stocks to make from scratch (via Food Network). In an episode of "Delicious Miss Brown," she explains that shrimp stock is prepared much like any other: It starts with a pot of boiling water, to which you'll add aromatics. Brown uses lemon, celery, onion, peppercorn, and parsley because they complement seafood dishes well. After this comes to a boil, she adds the shrimp shells. 

Brown explains that the shells only need a few minutes in the water because they're packed with a "meaty sweet" flavor that intensifies quickly. From start to finish, this process takes only 10 minutes, which is arguably just as convenient as going out and getting store-bought stock. If you want a tasty, zero-waste alternative to traditional stock, then be sure to save your shrimp shells.