March 20, 2017
I make a lot of soups, stews and chowders, especially during the cooler months. And I also use stock for sautéing veggies, instead of oil. As a result I go through a lot of bullion cubes. I always assumed making your own stock was a waste of good veggies. Many recipes call for onions, garlic, carrots, celery and leeks. You boil these until a tasty stock results then strain out the veggies and throw them out. Why not just make a veggie soup and eat the veggies???
A short while ago, I had a chance conversation with a friend of my daughter’s. Turns out he also follows a plant based diet and loves to cook. He shared with me his method for stock and it changed my opinion on homemade stock. The next day, I began saving veggies for my own stock making. Thank you Shain Brown. I am forever in your debt. (Check out Shain’s Not-Meat Loaf and Creamy White Bean Soup recipes as well.)
Shain’s question to me was, “What do you do with your vegetable scraps?” I compost them, of course. He challenged me, “Why not make a broth with them, then compost them?” Now that makes perfect sense.
Returning home after our conversation I was gung-ho to start my stock. For two weeks I threw every veggie scrap into the pot. Almost nothing went in the compost pail. It’s cold here in Manitoba right now, so I can keep my stock pot in the porch and the veggies stay frozen until I am ready to make stock. (You can store yours in a zip-lock bag in the freezer.) When the pot was over half full, I set out to make my stock. The result was not bad but not as good as I had hoped. I consulted Google and found that some veggies can produce a bitter broth, namely the crucifers – broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Brussell sprouts. Quite a few of those had made it into my stock pot.
For my second batch, I was more choosy on my veggie scraps, opting for the trimmings from onion , tomato , garlic , carrot , parsnip , celery and leek. After a couple of weeks, I had enough to try again. Eureka! It was delicious. I am hooked on homemade stock now. If you are not convinced, read the ingredients on the box of your favorite bullion cubes. I used an organic, non-GMO boullion cube and the first ingredients are: corn starch, salt and palm oil. All of these before any veggies are listed. None of these in homemade stock.
I have now finished cooking my fourth batch of stock, still mostly the basic veggies – onion, garlic, leek, carrot, parsnip, celery and tomato. (Mushroom stems can also be used, but I seldom have any to throw into the pot.) I also add the insides of one jalapeño pepper (the pith and seeds left when you slice of the outer flesh). It gives the stock just the slightest hint of spiciness. But limit it to one pepper unless you want a spicy stock. Two makes a pretty fiery stock!
A few ground rules in making stock. Don’t use any veggie that you wouldn’t throw into a soup – that is, nothing dirty or rotten. Scrub your carrots and wash you leek and celery trimmings well to remove any dirt. Avoid cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, Brussel sprouts). Also they say potatoes, sweet potatoes and squashes will result in a cloudy stock. However, I now add small amounts of sweet potato and squash trimmings just because I love the flavor they bring. You can also add herb trimmings in small amounts – rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley, basil, but keep in mind how you use your stock and if these flavors will complement. You may not want a strong rosemary flavor in every soup you make. However, a handful of parsley or cilantro stems makes a good addition. A bay leaf is also a good addition to the pot, as is a pinch of peppercorns. I have also added the remnants after squeezing one organic lemon. It gave the stock a mild bit of zip.
You can add salt or not, depending on your preference. I prefer no salt in the stock, instead adding it to the final product to the desired degree. In my last batch I added a teaspoon of no-salt seasoning (like Mrs. Dash).
Watch this good video clip on making broth from scraps.
- clean vegetable trimmings – onion, garlic, leek, carrot, parsley, celery, mushroom, tomato
- optional – small amount of sweet potato or squash trimmings
- small amounts of herb trimmings – parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano, etc (optional)
- bay leaf, peppercorns (optional)
Save your vegetable trimmings and freeze until you have at least a few litres of trimmings. (Keep a plastic bag in the freezer for trimmings.) When you slice an onion, save the top and bottom you slice off as well as any fleshy leaves you peel off. The dry outer skin can be used in small amounts as it makes the broth darker. When you use garlic, save the bottom heal part you generally cut off. You can also add the garlic skins. With leeks, wash well and toss in the top green parts you usually throw away.
When you are ready to make stock, place the trimmings in a large pot and add water to fully cover the veggies. Throw in a bay leaf and some peppercorns if desired. Bring to a boil and gently simmer for several hours. (about 5 hours) A crock pot set on low and simmered for 12 hours or more will also work. When the veggies are very soft turn off the heat and let the stock cool. Once cool, strain out the veggies. Taste the stock and if desired, you can continue to simmer the stock to reduce it to make a stronger, more concentrated stock. Compost the veggies.
Store the stock in containers in the fridge or freezer. If freezing, leave at least 1 inch of head space in the jar for expansion during freezing or your container will crack. You can also freeze the stock as ice cubes if you often use small amounts, or if you have made a very strong, concentrated stock. I like to keep one jar in the fridge at all times for oil free veggies sautéing, If you are planning on making soup, take a few jars out the night before to thaw or place sealed jars in warm water to speed thawing. (Warm water not hot, as you don’t want glass jars to crack due to sudden temperature change)