Thursday, October 3, 2013

Homemade Vegetable Stock

Homemade vegetable stock is something I've been making for a few years now. It's so easy, and costs almost nothing to make. Not only are you getting something much more natural than what you can buy in stores, for much cheaper, but you can also control how much salt goes into it. Once prepared, it can be frozen for months, and then used in anything - like soup or quinoa (replacing the water with stock makes it much more flavorful).

I got the idea from Dinner at Christina's, several years ago. Basically, any time you are using fresh vegetables, you have leftover scraps that get thrown away. This can include the ends of a zucchini, the tops of a pepper, or the peels from a carrot. Instead of throwing them away, just put them in a gallon-sized ziploc freezer bag, and stick it in the freezer. Once you fill up two or three of these bags, dump it all in your biggest stock pot, cover with water, and cook for ~ 3 hours. You can also add veggies from your fridge that are on their last legs, lots of garlic cloves, and some herbs - this time I added black peppercorns, celery seed, bay leaves, and some thyme and rosemary from the garden that have been hanging out at the back of my fridge. I also added a handful of garlic cloves. I used a 12 quart pot and fit in the contents of 3 freezer bags. I added 2 tsp of salt in the last hour of cooking, and another 2 tsp of salt when I turned off the heat.

Once it is cool enough to handle, start straining. I like putting it through a big colander first (push the veggies so they all release their liquid), then through a finer mesh strainer. I froze 2-cup portions in quart-size freezer bags, so I could easily thaw out portions for recipes. I believe I got 12 bags total - which is about 24 cups (I wasn't really exact with the measuring).

All in all, I got the equivalent of 3 boxes of stock, all for the cost of a few ziploc bags, and a few hours of my time.

Post-cooking. I've already started straining at this point

The colander I use to strain the veggies the first time through

I had the colander set up right next to my pot for less mess

All of the spent veggies! 

I like to label my bags with what they are, and the date they're made, so there isn't confusion later on