Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Vegetable Stock

In my kitchen, there are four things that make me want make more things myself. Even if only two or three of these conditions are met, I will lean toward making it myself whenever possible.

1) It is healthier.
2) It is cheaper.
3) It tastes a million times better.
4) It means less waste and/or getting more use from the things I already have.

Let me tell you something - vegetable stock fits the bill all the way around. Here's why.

I use vegetable (and chicken) stock all the time - for making soup, for cooking quinoa, for cooking rice, for adding extra flavor to vegetables that are going in pasta dishes, for cooking lentils, for fondue, for ... for ... for ... I think you get the point.

While it's not a huge expense at the store ($5 for 64oz usually), it's an unnecessary expense. Why? Because you make vegetable stock out of the same vegetables you're already eating. Peel your carrots? Great, throw them in the stock! Onion ends? Mushroom stems? Celery ends (or celery that is about to go bad)? Pepper tops? I use virtually every vegetable scrap I have, with the exception of potato skins because I don't want the stock to get starchy. All I have to do is add water. This means my stock is free. Sure, I paid for the vegetables, but I would have done that anyway. But now, I'm using the scraps before throwing them out, which means I am getting more bang for my buck. (If I were a good gardener, I would compost them, but I can only take on one thing at a time.) Plus, it means no added sodium, no added preservatives, no added anything. I have complete control over what goes into it and it doesn't get much easier than that.

Now, if I haven't convinced you that this will be an easy and worthwhile task, perhaps the fact that this post is much longer than the actual recipe will.


Vegetable Stock

1 gallon size bag of vegetable scraps
2 bay leaves (optional)
I don't add salt, but if you want to, you can. You can also add herbs like oregano, basil, parsley, etc. 

Put vegetable scraps in a large saucepan. Cover with water. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium/medium low and simmer for 2-3+ hours. Remove from heat. Strain through cheesecloth and allow to cool completely before storing.

*If you leave the lid on or cracked, you shouldn't have to worry about boiling out all your water. 
*I store mine in quart size mason jars. If you are going to put them in the freezer, make sure to leave at least 1/2" of space to allow for expansion.
*This can also be done in a slow cooker while you're at work for extra convenience.
*Store scraps in a gallon size bag in the freezer to keep them fresh until ready for use.

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