Vegetable Stock- a step-by-step method

the bare min Yum! Vegetable stock. Canned vegetable stock cannot even begin to flavour your food as well (or as cheaply) as homemade stock. It is so versatile and so easy to make that I honestly don’t know why anybody would buy the stuff in cans. You don’t have to go running to the store to buy vegetables to make vegetable stock. USE WHAT YOU HAVE IN THE HOUSE! You can even use vegetable scraps to make the stock. Carrot tops, ends of celery, broccoli stems etc. can be frozen and then pulled out to make your stock. Yes, I know those items also make excellent compost, and if you’re an avid gardener (like me!) you will just go to the store and buy vegetables to make stock in order to make sure that your Summer harvest tomatoes are well fed. My point is you don’t have to throw anything out, you can use scraps, you can usually just use what you have in your fridge.

That being said, there is a bare minimum of ingredients you need to make a reasonable stock. I do realize that the more types of veg you put in your stock, the richer it will taste, but you can still make veggie stock that is far superior to anything canned with a few simple ingredients. The picture (above) illustrates my point. To make a vegetable stock all you need are three carrots, three stalks of celery, a garlic clove, a sweet onion (but any type of onion will do), enough water to cover the cut up veg, a cutting board, a knife and a stock pot. There are no seasonings like salt or pepper in a stock. You are going to use this stock to make another recipe, that is why it is a stock — it is never served on its own! If you add salt/pepper/other spices you have made a broth. Yup. Salt and pepper are really the only difference between a vegetables stock and a vegetable broth. This is not true of chicken/beef/pork broth stock. Animals stock is made from bones where animal broth is made using the whole carcass (or pieces of carcass) meat included. But I digress, you really want to know how to make stock! (more below the cut)

Before we begin, let us determine what type of we shouldn’t put in our veggie stock. I’ve already said that salt and pepper don’t belong in a vegetable stock, but really, if you add them it won’t ruin anything. Just don’t call what you’ve made a stock. And be careful when you use it in other recipes that call for stock — you might over salt and ruin your dish! Other things that should consider while collecting items for your stock:

  1. Don’t use rotting vegetables — if your vegetables are rotten, your stock will taste rotten.
  2. Be careful about adding potatoes — adding potatoes will also add starch to your stock and you’ll get more of a soup. It won’t taste bad, it will just not be great for some of the things you normally would use the stock for — for instance, you wouldn’t want to boil your rice in thick stock because you’ll get very starchy rice. If you intend on making your stock into a soup then by all means add potatoes.
  3. Be careful of strong spices — unless you know what you’re using your stock for, don’t add strong spicy flavours. Basic spices and herbs such as parsley, thyme, rosemary etc. can all be added, but don’t reach for the cumin or the chili peppers.
  4. Don’t use dried herbs – with the exception of bay leaves, which can be easily recognize and pulled out of the stock at the end, you should only use fresh herbs. Dried herbs won’t strain out of your stock and you won’t have a nice clear liquid at the end. There will be floaters. Plus fresh parsley tastes and smells so much nicer than dried parsley.

Now what can you put in vegetable stock: Vegetables! Any vegetable! Any amount of vegetable! But just remember: if you put a huge quantity of one type of vegetable in your broth, that flavour will dominate, so do try to balance things out.

That being said,what am I putting in my broth?

what I added to the soup I purposely bought sweet onion, celery and carrots for my broth. I usually don’t keep these items in the house, but they are actually really cheap to buy so its no problem at all! The other ingredients I already had in my fridge so I threw them in the pot as well. In no particular order, my broth will include the flavours of:

  1. 3 carrots
  2. 3 stalks of celery, including leaves
  3. 1 large vidalia (sweet) onion
  4. 5 cloves of garlic
  5. A handful of snow peas I happened to have on hand
  6. A cup of Brussels sprouts I happened to have on hand
  7. A parsnip I happened to have on hand
  8. A leek, again, I just had this available
  9. 3 green onions that were floating about
  10. A bunch of fresh curly parsley
  11. A sprig of fresh basil
  12. 2 dried bay leaves

Now, I know I’m going to make mostly Asian cuisine from this stock so to my stock I’m going to add a handful of fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, and some grated ginger. I only add this because I know what types of dishes in which this batch of stock will be used as an ingredient. Don’t add these strong flavours to stock intended for something else.

Now that I have gathered everything together I will wash everything and start putting things into a stock pot.

Directions:

1. Each snow pea had the tips removed and then they were cut in half. These halves were then tossed into the stock pot.

2. I cut the dangly roots off the tip of the leek, roughly choped up the whole thing, green bits and all, and threw it in the pot. Some people don’t like putting the hard green bits in the pot because they’re too hard to eat. I have no intention of eating the greens, I just want their flavour so I throw in the whole plant.

3. peeled vs not peeled garlicThe garlic was peeled as in the photo.I only show this photo because I had an encounter with a room mate a few years back who had never been taught to cook and didn’t understand that they had to remove the papery skin. I used red-skinned garlic, but its most often sold in a while skinned variety. Just make sure the papery bit is removed. After the cloves are peeled I cut each in half lengthwise and threw them into the pot.

peel carrots4. The tops and bottom tip of the carrots and parsnip were peeled using a potato peeler. I kept the lovely skin for my compost. Then I cut the carrots into 3 cm long slices (which I guess is about 1 inch, I grew up with metric here in Canada).

cutting a carrot

5. I prepared the celery in a similar fashion, chopping the stalks into 3cm (1 inch) long pieces. I also throw in the leaves. They are edible, no sense in wasting any yummy bit! (note: the orange flecks in the photo are carrot bits that didn’t actually make it off of the cutting board). cutting celery

green onion sliced

6. I cut the dangly roots off of the green onions and sliced them in half green bits and all.

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.cut up vidalia

7. I cut the two ends off of the onion (and threw them into the compost) then I peeled the onion (just like the garlic (remember: the papery bit is not tasty). Roughly chopped as in the photograph, it was all thrown into the pot.

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cutting end of brussel sprout8. The outer leaves of the Brussels sprouts were removed as they which were starting to get a tad bit nasty looking, then I cut the hard bit off of the end. I threw the prepared sprouts into the pot and tossed the outer leaves and bottom ends into the compost.

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9. I made a bouquet garni (see below) out of my leafy herbs by tying the long stem of one sprig of parsley around the coriander, parsley and basil leaves. You can also use string or throw everything into a cheese cloth bag. If you don’t feel like doing anything and just toss everything into the pot, that will work as well, it will just be slightly messier.
bouquet garniginger piece 10. I took a nice hunk of Ginger and peeled off the outer brown skin so that all that remained was the nice yellow centre (as pictured at left). This was then grated on a fine grater. You can just throw the entire cube into the pot if you don’t feel like grating, I just wanted to make sure that every last bit of gingery goodness infused into the liquid.

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stock pot with water before boiling11. Now that everything is cut up and in the pot, it is time to add water. The correct amount of water varies based on how many vegetables you’ve put in the pot. A good way to measure is by filling the pot with just enough water so that some of the veg float. To test for floating, push a piece of carrot under the surface of the water and it pops back up you have enough water. See the photo above for a good visual description. Mix it about ta bit so that the veg are evenly distributed.

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12. boiling brothNow for the fun part, turn on the stove! The goal is to simmer the pot at a nice rolling boil (see photo) for 1 hour. No more than one hour! You want the broth at its peak, if you boil any longer the veg will start to get mushy and break up into the pot giving the stock a less than perfect taste. While the pot is boiling prepare your strainer (see step #13) or go read a book or watch some TV. Fold laundry? Make dinner? Whatever you want! I always set a kitchen timer to make sure I don’t forget to take the pot off of the stove.

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a lined collander13. You’ll need a fine strainer to remove the veg from the stock. I don’t have a fine strainer so I lined a regular plastic colander with a number of layers of cheese cloth.

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draining veggies after cooking14. An hour is up! Put the strainer or cheese lined colander over a bowl large enough to hold all of the liquid stock. Then just strain the entire mixture. The result is a bunch of vegetables that have had all their goodness sucked right on out of them. You can feed them to your dog or I suppose you can eat them. But I just toss them out (you can’t compost cooked veg). I don’t have a dog and none of my cats appreciate carrot.

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VOILA! You now have a bowl full of lovely vegetable broth! I actually really like the flavour of this batch. It made exquisite Vietnamese soup. I think it was the Brussels sprout addition. I definitely will try that again! ENJOY!

veg broth banana bread and more 251


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