Thursday, August 18, 2011

Homemade Vegetable Stock (Revisited)

Can you believe this bowl of rich, golden goodness is vegetable stock?!

In honor of garden/veggie season being in full swing, I am re-posting below my very first post from 5/28/11, Homemade Vegetable Stock. I changed it just a little, adding a bit of olive oil and a little cooking time before the water is added. It's a great way to use up those peels, stems, ends, etc. when you're preparing fresh vegetables that otherwise would be thrown away, and if you compost, you can still get the most out of them before tossing them in the pile. I love having the freezer stocked with some at all times--it comes in very handy for many dishes (check out my Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, Very Veggie Soup, Potato and Kale Chowder, Honey Mustard Pasta Salad and Honey Mustard Marinade).

I love making my own vegetable stock! Store-bought stock is expensive, not to mention full of sodium, gluten, etc. Even the organic stocks can have undesirable ingredients, and they are even more expensive. I make stock often and always have some on hand in the freezer. I use it for soups/stews/chili, gravies/sauces, many slow cooking recipes, and even to add a  little more flavor when I'm cooking vegetables, brown rice, quinoa, etc. It's so rich and flavorful (just look at the picture above!) and ridiculously cheap.

Vegetable Stock 

Step 1: Whenever you cut up fresh vegetables, rinse off the parts you would normally toss away, put them in a gallon zip-top bag and keep in your freezer. Examples of what I save are the ends of onions, scallions, bell peppers, eggplant, bok choy, radishes, celery, green beans, parsnips, carrots, zucchini and asparagus, parsley and any other herb stems and mushroom stems. You can even save the peels from apples, pears, sweet potatoes and squash. If there are things I know I won't use up before they go bad and can't/don't want to prep them for freezing and using later, I will chop and add those to the bag as well.

Step 2: When your bag is full, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a  4 qt stock/soup pot or Dutch oven, then add the bag of vegetables, three crushed cloves of garlic and a tsp or so of black peppercorns. No salt, as you will season the dishes you make with it. You can always add a couple chunked fresh carrots, celery stalks, scallions or some sprigs of parsley, but I haven't found it necessary, I always get lots of flavor in my stock without it. You could also add other fresh or dried herbs you like, but I like to keep the flavor rather neutral since I never know what I might be using it for. Let cook for about 5-7 minutes, just until the chill is off, stirring often.

Step 3: Add cold water to the pot, up to about an inch from the top. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes, remove from heat and let cool.

Step 4: When cool enough to handle, place a colander over a large bowl or pot that will hold all of the stock and pour the stock into the colander. Let drain for a few minutes so that you get as much of that liquid gold out of there as possible. Compost your mushy veggies! :)

Step 5: Pour stock into freezer containers and freeze what you will not use within the week. You can even pour it into freezer bags and lay them flat while they freeze so they take up little room.

COST: Next to Nothing

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