Last year I did a silly thing. I bought vegetables to make vegetable stock. I measured out water. I meticulously chopped. But with the big bags of carrots, I ended up with MORE vegetables than I started with. This year I learned an important thing. Something every grandmother knew but we forgot. Never buy vegetables to make vegetable stock. Save (almost) all of your scraps – every little bit – and soon you will have everything you need for vegetable stock. FREE vegetable stock.
One of the greatest benefits of homemade vegetable stock is the nutritional value. The more vegetables you use, the wider range of vitamins and nutrients your stock will have. And since it’s salt-free, you can determine how much salt to add while you’re cooking. It is also a great way to mellow out a recipe that is over salted.
It takes me 3-4 weeks to fill up a one-gallon freezer bag of scraps, and the 6-8 cups (~2 quarts) of stock I get out of it usually lasts me until the bag is full again. Maybe it won’t last me as long now that the season of soups is upon us, but it’s certainly working out so far.
Since onions, carrots, and celery make up the backbone of vegetable stock, it is important to have a good amount of them in your freezer bag when you go to make the stock. If I’m using carrots or celery in any recipes during the month, I try to chop up 1-2 of each and put them into my freezer bag for when it comes time to make stock! That way, I don’t have to go out and buy a big bag of the two and get stuck with leftovers and nothing else to use them in.
If you’re going to use the vegetable stock within a week, keep it in the fridge. Longer, keep it in the freezer. I freeze my stock in 1- or 2-cup amounts in tupperware containers, then pop them out and put them in a big freezer bag. It takes a couple rounds to get all of the stock frozen, but it saves a lot of containers from filling up my tiny freezer!
Vegetables to use: Onions, carrots and celery are the basic ingredients for stock, but the more vegetables you use, the greater the flavor and nutritional value. Save any scraps (roots, stalks, leaves, peelings etc.) from other vegetables like leeks, scallions, garlic, fennel, chard, lettuce, potatoes, parsnips, green beans, squash, bell peppers, eggplant, mushrooms, and asparagus. You can even add corn cobs, winter squash skins, beet greens and herbs. Vegetables that are wilting (but are NOT spoiled) are perfectly fine to use.
Vegetables to avoid: Bitter vegetables are overpowering in the stock and better off avoiding. You don’t need to save cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, rutabagas, or artichokes. You may want to avoid beet roots and onion skins, because they turn stock dark red/brown. Don’t include anything that has spoiled.
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