Vegetable stock has countless uses in the kitchen, and makes a superb base for sauces, soups and gravies, lifting everyday dishes into special occasion treats. Making your own stock is also a great way to use vegetable trimmings that would otherwise be tossed into the trash bin. We started making our own stocks few months ago and with this post we share our experience so far.
Stocks freeze really well, so it is worth preparing a larger quantity. You can then store the stock in ice cube trays, saving plenty of space in the freezer.
What vegetables can you use?
Onions, garlic, celery and carrots are the backbone, but lots of others, such as sweet potato, fennel and even tomatoes, can also go into the pot.
Here are some tips on what to collect in freezer bags for stock making:
- Carrot peelings and ends and potato skins (but only if you use home grown, organic or from trusted sources);
- Onion skins and ends. Save a little of the brown skin, too – it adds a little colour to the stock;
- Leeks – save the tough, dark green tops. They give great flavour. Make sure you wash them properly;
- Damaged, imperfect or overripe tomatoes;
- Garlic stems and skins;
- Stems of parsley and dill or even lettuce;
- Courgettes (zucchini) skins and stubs;
- Cucumber skins and ends;
- Celery leaves and stubs;
- Broccoli and cauliflower stems;
- Outer leaves of cabbage. Use only a little of cabbage cauliflower or broccoli because too much will dominate the stock;
- Shells of fresh pea pods or French beans;
- Bell pepper tops (but little quantities);
- Spinach stems
What doesn’t do well in the stock pot?
- Aubergines or artichokes – too bitter;
- Peelings and trimmings from carrots and potato skins if they are not from a trusted source. Unfortunately, unless organic, these will have traces of pesticide and heavy chemical fertilizing. These are better thrown away!
How to collect vegetables?
Best way is to freeze the vegetable trimmings while they are still fresh, in other words right after deciding to use them for a stock. Make sure to wash them well and don’t hesitate to use a brush when necessary. We discovered that food & freezer save resealable bags work best for us – just add your new trimmings and peels until you fill the bag.
Put vegetable trimmings and peelings – onion, potato, carrot, leek, broccoli, tomato, basically whatever you have – plus a little salt. Make sure you don’t add too much salt at the beginning, especially if you are going to reduce and concentrate the stock later.
Then add a few black peppercorns, a bay leaf and some fresh or dried herbs into a pot. We almost always use a lot of parsley as well. Cover with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes (approximately until the liquid is reduced to about 2/3 of what you started with).
Leave to cool, then strain. After straining, reduce the cooking liquid until it’s really concentrated. Once the reduced stock has completely cooled, transfer it into smaller freezer-safe plastic containers. This way the vegetable stock could stay in the freezer for a couple of months.