Making your own vegetable stock is so easy I feel ashamed every time I reach for that stock cube in my pantry. Now that our CSA is pumping out a huge assortment of local, organic vegetables every single week, I’ve gotten into the stock-making groove and try to make a batch every week or two.
The process starts when I drag my CSA haul into the house. Almost every vegetable gets rinsed before going into the fridge and the reason for this is two-fold. First, I like to separate each vegetable from each other so I can get a sense of what vegetables I’ve got that week to make planning ahead easier. The other thing is that I know that most of the dirt and bugs are off my produce so that when I actually use those vegetables and add the scraps into the freezer, I know they’re clean and my stock won’t taste like dirt. Dirty stock isn’t good.
I keep my vegetable scraps in the freezer rather than my fridge. The freezer allows me to make the stock on my own time rather than being forced to because the bucket of scraps have a very limited lifespan. Fennel fronds, onion skins, carrot nubs, celery leaves, and whatever vegetable scrap that isn’t mildewy, rotten or badly blemished goes into a bucket in my freezer. When the bucket is full, it’s stock time! And it’s ridiculously easy to do. Cover your scraps with water, add some herbs, simmer and strain. That’s it. Really.
What your stock looks and tastes like will depend very much on what you’ve been adding to your bucket. This batch had a LOT of fennel which is a good thing in terms of taste. There was also a lot of kale and chard stems, green onions, broccoli stalks and cabbage leaves which helped to make this stock quite dark. If you’re particular and are looking for a lighter coloured stock to use in clear soups, use carrots, yellow onions without the skins, celery, parsnips and other light vegetables.
Strong flavours can dominate the broth and if you’re not sure how you’ll be using the stock, you may choose to leave out the salt and chilies.
homemade vegetable stock
organic vegetable scraps
2 bay leaves
1 T dried thyme
4 dried chilis
1 T kosher salt
Add all your vegetable scraps collected during the past week or two into a large pot, along with the bay leaves, herbs, chilis and salt. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for an hour. Strain using a cheesecloth or dish towel into a clean glass jar. If you plan on freezing, leave a 2 inch headroom at the top of the jar. Freeze or use as needed.