Stock is a versatile ingredient and essential to have on hand when cooking. I use it often—not only for making soup but when cooking a batch of rice, making risotto, cooking polenta, making stir-fries and on and on.
Stock is nothing more than water that’s been infused with vegetables, bones and other flavors. Stock in a box is convenient but that convenience costs you a whole lot in terms of nutritional value and flavor. Please stop using that stuff. Making your own stock is one of the easiest things you can do to take your recipes to a whole new level.
We eat a lot of fresh vegetables and in times past, I’d save the scraps for compost. A while ago I stopped tossing those scraps into the compost pail and instead tossed them into a gallon size freezer bag and stored them in the freezer. Each time I had scraps, I’d collect them up and place them in that bag and then put the bag back in the freezer.
Once I had two bags full of frozen vegetable scraps, I pulled them out of the freezer, dropped them into a 10quart stockpot, filled the pot with water and placed it on the stove. I brought the broth to a boil, then lowered the heat to a simmer and let it simmer for about 3 hours. Then, I turned off the heat and let it cool. Once cooled, I strained out the vegetables using a fine mesh strainer, taking care to collect all the liquid by giving them a good pressing. When I was finished, I was left with 4 quarts of liquid gold. I tasted the onion and garlic, the ginger, the apple, the carrots and the herbs. It was amazing to me how pronounced their flavors were. You’d be hard pressed in trying to distinguish those flavors from commercially produced stocks. Oh, and after I removed the liquid from the scraps, I tossed them into the compost pile. You can keep your stock in the refrigerator for a few days or store it in the freezer for about 3 months.
My stock had bits, pieces and peelings of garlic, onion, carrot, green beans, organic celery, parsnip, organic apple peels (don’t use the core), ginger, parsley and organic potatoes. I also threw in a couple of parmigiano-reggiano cheese rinds.
Try this yourself. Start saving all of those scraps. There are only two things to remember.
- Avoid vegetables from the brassica family – like broccoli, cabbage and turnips. They can create strong sulfur like flavors. Save those for when you are making brassica soups.
- Make sure you don’t use any vegetables that have become spoiled.
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Tammy Batcha is a life-long resident of the Shenandoah Valley. A long-time commuter, she seeks to reconnect to her community. A board certified, health and wellness coach, she continues to study integrative nutritional theory while guiding others on a path to wellness.