Tag Archives: vegetable stock

How to Make Vegetable Stock

Gentle Readers, having grown up in the country, I was used to having a compost pile the old-school way. Basically we gathered scraps and put them outside in a designated area and put some dirt on it occasionally. Not very scientific or very useful for me in the suburbs. Last year, I learned that my good friend in Austin had compost as a municipal service. Game changer, I wanted that.

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Vegetable Stock Before Photo

Fast forward to a breakfast get-together with friends, and someone told me about Compost Now, a service here in North Carolina where you get a bucket, put in all your scraps (meat and dairy and soggy pizza box included) and affix the lid, and they just magically take it away every week and turn it into compost. It doesn’t smell, it removes friction and waste from my life, and I love it.

**I don’t get paid for this, but with current economic times, services like this are suffering from a loss of restaurant and commercial clients. I encourage you to check out Compost Now or similar services in your area and support local business and the earth all at once!**

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Trader Joe’s Fruit & Vegetable Wash

So why are we talking about rotting food on a cooking blog? Because the step between prepping vegetables and forgetting they’re in your crisper drawer is vegetable stock. Yes, you can make something great out of something that you’re going to compost (resist the urge to throw it away, go watch all the documentaries on that to be convinced).

Start today by washing your fruits and veggies (a doubly good practice now, I like the Trader Joe’s vegetable wash). Just keep a plastic bag in your freezer ready to receive the bounty of peelings, stems, and scraps.

Vegetable Stock

For this recipe, I highly recommend busting out your slow cooker, but you can do this in a large pot on the stove as well.

Note: I don’t add salt to my stock, preferring to adjust and add it to the final dish. I also don’t typically add garlic, but many good cooks do and have recommended it to me. Experiment! Each stock is a unique blend of what you have been eating and have leftover or are end of life-ing (for all my tech readers). 

Makes 6-8 cups of vegetable stock

3-5 cups of vegetable scraps, peels, and ends (they can be end of life but pre-compost—wilted is fine, rotting is gross, use some judgment). Skip the cabbage and the cauliflower, too strong for anything but each other. Go for carrots, onions, parsley stems, asparagus tips, celery bits, and even potato peels. Save mushroom scraps separately and make mushroom stock from them.
1/2 onion if you don’t have onion or scallion scraps included
1 generous teaspoon of black peppercorns
bay leaf (optional)
garlic cloves or some garlic powder (recommended to me, optional if you want some additional garlic flavor)

  1. Place everything in a slow cooker and cover with water. Cook on high for 6 hours, taking the lid off for the last 30 minutes or so to reduce the stock. (If you cook on the stove, use a large pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for at least an hour, watching the water level as you go, and adding more if you need it.)
  2. When stock has reduced and is as flavorful as you’d like, remove from heat, let cool a bit, and strain out the vegetables and spices through a colander, pressing the veggie solids to get all of the liquid out. Compost these scraps!
  3. Now if you want to go next level, and I think that you do, break out your old ice cube tray. I’ve found ice cubes are around 1 tablespoon. Nothing is more annoying than a recipe that calls for this amount of stock. Freeze your liquid gold in the ice cube tray, a batch at a time, until you have several tablespoons. Pop them out and store them in the freezer in a zipper bag. Problem solved, thank me later.
  4. Impatient or lack an ice cube tray? Check your container drawer (not a Kubernetes joke for the tech folks) and select some of your small size containers. This works best in the flimsy plastic Ziploc style containers. Freeze the stock in small portions and pop them out of the containers and save in a plastic zipper bag. Now you have pre-measured stock in rational portion sizes.
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Vegetable stock frozen in usable portion sizes.

Coming up next: Vegetable Risotto Two Ways

 

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How to Make Stock Out of Anything: Three Recipes

Why aren’t you making stock? Too hard? Too time-consuming? Read on for some simple and relatively quick techniques.

Stock is essentially flavored water, it’s just a matter of degree after that (though I feel certain trained chefs would strike me down for saying this). But I am the Practical Cook, and making stock is an extremely practical practice. (Try saying that three times fast.) You’re making use of ingredients that have either been used once (a nice way of saying “carcass”), are cheap (bones), or are destined for the compost heap (veggie bits).

Easy Chicken or Turkey Stock

Rotisserie Chicken

1 onion, quartered (optional)
1 carrot, cleaned and peeled (optional)
leftovers from rotisserie chicken (though I prefer plain, you can use a flavored one) or turkey, including skin, bones, and any remaining meat not reserved for another purpose

1. If using the vegetables, add a dash of oil to a 4 to 6 quart stockpot and heat over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add veggies to pot and cover, sauteing them until lightly softened.

2. Add the chicken parts. Cover with water. Raise the heat to medium high and bring to a boil, skimming any scum/foam off the top and discarding.

3. Lower heat to medium or medium low, keeping the water at a low simmer. Simmer for about an hour, until stock reaches desired concentration.

4. Pour stock through sieve or strainer, pressing solids to extract all liquid. Cool, remove excess fat, put in containers that serve your needs, and freeze. (TPC recommends 1/2 cup portions.)

What's in the Practical Cook's Freezer? Beef Bones

What's in the Practical Cook's Freezer? Beef Bones

Easy Pork Stock

3 lbs (or less, whatever you can get) pork bones

Take a very large stockpot. Put pork bones in it. Cover with water. Bring to a boil. Skim the scum and discard. Reduce heat and simmer for an hour or so. Pour stock through sieve or strainer, setting bones aside. Cool, remove excess fat, store in 6 to 8 cup containers, freeze. Remove any remaining meat from bones and freeze in small portions separately. Great for use in Pork Noodle Soup.

**Note: Not everyone is a fan of pork stock. The Practical Cook sometimes adds 1/2 cup or more of chicken stock to round out the flavors. Also, I know that roasting the bones first would deepen the flavor, but I just haven’t gotten around to trying this yet! The soup is served by a clearer broth, so for now, this is practical.

Easy Vegetable Stock

mixture of leftover veggie bits, including carrot, potato, asparagus stalks, mushroom stems, parsley, etc.
a few black peppercorns

Collect the vegetable bits (in the freezer for heartier ones) until you have enough to fill your slow cooker at least 1/3 to 1/2 full. Place the vegetables into the slow cooker. Add the peppercorns. Cover with water. Cook for 6 hours on low heat, or 10 hours on high heat. Pour stock through sieve or strainer, pressing solids to extract juice. Cool, store in 6 to 8 cup containers, freeze.

Today's Woody Asparagus Ends

Today's Woody Asparagus Ends

Tomorrow's Vegetable Stock Ingredient

Tomorrow's Vegetable Stock Ingredient

The idea and courage to make vegetable stock in a slow cooker came from the amazing ladies behind Kitchen Scoop! (and the Desperation Dinners! cookbooks), Alicia Ross and Beverly Mills. I highly recommend Cheap, Fast, Good for anyone looking for a solid addition to their cookbook library. They have a gift for taking complex cooking techniques and recipes and distilling them to their essence. (Full disclosure, I also worked with them in a past life.)

Tomorrow, an installment on a favorite topic, the Art of Dining Out. Just because you are committed to cooking at home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing field research!

What would you like to see covered in an upcoming post? Post comments here, on Facebook, via email (practicalcook at gmail dot com), or Twitter (practicalcook).

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