Thursday, March 27, 2014

Homemade Vegetable Stock

I have been making homemade vegetable stock for years.  Years and years actually.  I've gone through different systems of making the stock with varying degrees of success, but I've perfected the stock over my years of living in New York in all kinds of tiny kitchens and spaces.  The best method that I have come up with by far is freezing all of my vegetable scraps in a gallon Ziploc bag and placing it in the upright freezer on top of our refrigerator in our tiny kitchen.  Whenever the bag would get completely full, I would toss it all in a large pot and make stock.  Then I would use whatever stock I needed that day and freeze the rest of it in pint and quart deli containers.  Several food blogs that I follow have suggested freezing in glass jars, but I have never had success, even when waiting for the food/liquids to cool completely, then sitting in the refrigerator for a couple hours and cooling it even more before putting it in the freezer.  I have had too many jars break on me to want to try it again.  So I have been storing it in deli containers and it has been working very well.  It's also super convenient. 
Veg Stock ready to go in the fridge and freezer
There is nothing better than making homemade vegetable stock.  It is super easy, costs almost nothing and gives tons of flavor and extra nutrients to your soups, sauces, stews, etc.  I also love that you have complete control of what goes in, how you prepare it, and therefore the end result.  There are no unnecessary added ingredients.  And if you are organized about it, you can make different kinds of stock for different purposes.  Several kinds I have made before include:
1.  Roasted Onion Stock for French Onion SoupKeep the onion ends, papers and outer layer of skins separate.  If I remember, I throw the ends of garlic in there as well - frozen of course.  Once I have a good amount, I roast the contents of the bag with some peppercorns until golden and dark.  Then I will simmer that mixture until fragrant and use it to make my delicious, super tasty soup.  Yum!
2.  Mushroom Stock:  I save all of the stems of the mushrooms I cook with and place them separately in a Ziploc bag in the freezer.  Once it's full, I'll simmer the stems along with a couple dried shiitake mushrooms, black peppercorns, dried thyme (or be even thriftier by freezing the stems from fresh thyme in the same bag with the mushroom stems).  Use the stock to make a killer Green Bean Casserole for Thanksgiving, a crazy flavorful mushroom soup or a delicious sauce to go with tempeh, tofu or seitan.
3.  Roasted Vegetable Stock:  Instead of placing the frozen veggies directly into the pot and covering with water, roast for 30 minutes or so at 400 degrees, then simmer.  Add a handful of lentils, black peppercorns and bay leaves for extra deliciousness.  Then use this tasty stock for more strongly flavored soups or a seitan pot roast or something equally amazing!

Frozen veggies in the pot, getting ready for some filtered water

Suggested Veggies:

Onion ends and peels (get rid of the papery outer-skins: they will make the stock bitter)
Carrots peels and ends
Garlic ends
Celery ends and leaves
Mushroom stems
Parsley Stems
Fresh thyme stems
Tomato cores and ends

Veg Stock Working

Homemade Veggie Stock:

Yields: 1 Gallon Stock

1.  Take the contents of the gallon Ziploc bag and place it in a large pot. Cover with at least 1-1 1/2 gallons of filtered water. Add several black pepper corns, a couple bay leaves and dried thyme if you would like. 

2.  Bring the contents to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer for 45-60 minutes, or as desired.  The longer the stock simmers, the darker in color and stronger in flavor it will be. 

3.  Allow the veggies to sit in the cooking liquid for about 10-15 additional minutes, or until the stock is more manageable to handle (temperature-wise). 

4.  Strain the veggies out of the stock, pressing to release as much liquid as possible.  Discard the stock veggies - preferably in a compost pile. 

5.  Cool the stock, package and be sure to date clearly.   Don't fill the containers completely full or they may explode in the freezer  - the liquid expands as it freezes. 

Labeled and frozen!
I've been doing this for years!
(And don't worry this picture was taken years ago & the stock long since used up.)

Fresh veggie scraps getting ready to go in the freezer.

Now save those organic veggie scraps and make your own homemade stock!



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