Homemade vegetable stock

What’s an easy way to take the chill out of winter weather and make your kitchen smell wonderful? Make homemade vegetable stock. The Detroit area has been hit with a ton of snow, so until you feel like venturing out, I’d find things to do indoors.

Making veggie stock is one of the ways I fend off the winter blahs: a pot of simmering stock on your stove gives off a great scent and warmth. Also, straining the vegetables out of the stock gives you something to do, aside from looking at the weather channel.

I love to make soup this time of year— but it seems like I go through boxes of stock so quickly. And store-bought stock is often full of salt, and those boxes can’t be recycled. And a few cookbooks I have recommend making your own stock— but the instructions are to buy a bunch of fresh produce and boil them down. Seems so wasteful.

Which is why I started saving kitchen scraps. The instructions are simple: get a freezer-quality, large ziploc bag. Add your vegetable scraps to the bag, and store in the freezer. When the ziploc bag is full, empty it into a pot— and this is your basis for your stock.

Also: make sure to have a bunch of container on hand for your stock. It’s helpful to have 1 or 2 cups measured out in little tupperware containers when you’re cooking.

Vegetable scraps and herb stems.

Vegetable scraps and herb stems.

Vegetables I save:

carrot tops and peelings

onion tops and skins (note: they will make broth cloudy)

tomato tops

parsnip middles

swiss chard stems (especially the red and yellow ones)

zucchini and squash tops

bell pepper tops

asparagus ends

stems of herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary)

Veggies I used sparingly: (these have a strong flavor!)

kale ribs

mushrooms

Veggies I skip:

cabbage

broccoli stems

rutabaga

turnip

lettuce (or other salad leaves)

If you have other questions about what vegetables to use in stock, this blogger has a great run-down of which veggies give what flavor. 

Ingredients

1 bag frozen vegetable scraps

Bag of frozen vegetables.

Bag of frozen vegetables.

3-4 carrots

1-2 onions

2-3 cups celery

2-3 cloves fresh garlic

Add some fresh onion, carrot and celery.

Add some fresh onion, carrot and celery.

  1. Dump the frozen vegetables into your largest pot.

    Frozen veggies in a pot.

    Frozen veggies in a pot.

  2. Cover with water, and bring to a boil.

    Vegetables covered in water.

    Vegetables covered in water.

  3. While you’re waiting for the water to boil, chop up the carrots, celery and onions. Add the chopped veggies, along with the peeled garlic cloves, to the pot.
  4. When the water is boiling, cover, reduce to a simmer and boil for about an hour. It will be very easy to tell when the veggies are spent.

    Spent veggies.

    Spent veggies.

  5. After an hour, take the pot off and let cool.
  6. Strain the water and vegetables to get all the plant bits out. I found that the easiest way is to strain the stock in small batches, into mixing bowls.

    Strainer.

    Strainer.

  7. Ladle the stock into glass jars for storage. If you’re going to freeze the stock, remember to let the stock cool completely before freezing (or your container will have structural issues.) Fresh stock can be stored for about five days in the fridge before you need to freeze it.

    Storing your stock.

    Storing your stock.

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