Sunday, 17 April 2011

Vegetable Stock (making something from nothing)

Trying to find a commercially-produced vegetable stock that's BTD-compliant is next to impossible. There's always something that makes it inappropriate for A's (tomatoes, usually) or AB's (wheat, corn). So I decided to make my own.

And even better, I used mostly vegetable scraps that would have otherwise been thrown in the garbage. Since this recipe makes about 2L of stock, which costs about $10 at my grocery store, that adds up to quite a significant savings.

Stock is a mixture of vegetables and herbs simmered in water to produce a flavourful broth. You can use any combination of veggies that you find palatable, but at the very least, use the following:

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, rough chop
2 stalks celery, including some leaves, rough chop
2 large carrots, rough chop
1 bunch green onions, chopped
8 cloves garlic, crushed
small handful fresh parsley
6 or so sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
10 cups water

I have been saving vegetable 'scraps' in a large Ziplock freezer bag (about 27cm x 27cm) for a week or two. This includes the following (they were all washed really well prior to freezing): parsnip ends, broccoli stems, carrot peelings, parsnip peelings, onion skins, onion ends, carrot ends and celery ends.

You can keep adding to your bag as time goes on. When it's full, it's time to make stock!

I was a little short on onions in my freezer bag, so after heating up some oil on medium-high in a large pot, I chopped one onion and let it heat up, then dumped the contents of my freezer bag in the pot. It's a big frozen mess but it will thaw very quickly and reduce down. All I added from the list above was the green onion, garlic, thyme, parsley, bay leaves, and of course the water and salt.

Adding salt is very important due to osmosis. Cooking chemistry time: water moves from less salty environments to more salty environments, meaning that the water inside your veggies will move to the salty water around it, forcing flavour out of the vegetables and into your stock.

Once everything is in it looks like this:

See? Mostly ends and peelings, ensuring maximum flavour is imparted from the vegetable to the liquid. Yum!

Bring the whole thing to the boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Strain the broth and then let it cool, and then freeze for storage.

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