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Friday, July 29, 2011

Seriously Free Vegetable Stock

Until I started down the REAL food path several years ago I didn't have a clue how to make stock/broth - bone or vegetable. As a matter of fact I didn't know anyone who made their own. I still don't - at least not in real life - I am a crazy oddity to my family and friends. But you think I am sane don't you?

I could wax on and on about bone broth - especially chicken feet broth - but today I want to talk about vegetable stock. It is so simple you are going to be kicking yourself for waiting so long to make it. Just think, you control all the ingredients - no msg,  excessive sodium (you can and should use wonderful sea salt)  and other nasty additives.

There are plenty of "recipes" to make it but really all you need to know is to be cautious about adding too many strong flavored veggies such as broccoli, brussels sprouts and cabbage as they can easily be overpowering. Other than that really any vegetable you have can go in. After you have made a few batches you will have a better idea what you like.

The taste is far superior to the canned or boxed and often it is dang near free. Mine today was - dang near free. My uncle has a garden that he allows me to glean from - I thinned his beets, carrots and onions, picked some green beans, a ginormous zucchini and a few smallish tomatoes. All of which I cleaned and put in a crockpot. To this I added some celery that was past its prime and some garlic, salt and pepper. I just used the beet greens but added the whole carrots, greens and all. I covered this all with water and cooked it on low all day.

It is the best smelling/tasting vegetable stock ever. All for the cost of limp celery and garlic - hmm, $.50?? I got almost a gallon. Which I strained and put in canning jars and then when cool will put in my freezer.

I don't always have free veggies for the picking and so, when I know I am going to make some I start saving my scraps in a bag in the freezer - you know, the bottom of asparagus, broccoli, bits and pieces of onion, mushroom stems, peppers - what have you. (I usually give them to the chickens) When I get a decent amount I add whatever is in the fridge that needs using up - always some carrots, celery and onion plus a bit of garlic to the crockpot along with the scraps from the freezer.

You often don't need to peel the vegetables - just be sure they are clean. You can vary the seasonings to your own taste or what you plan on making with it.

While bone broth is my usual go to liquid for so many things, sometime a nice light vegetable broth is what a recipe needs.

I love making stock/broth because it is not only frugal, but healthy and helps me to come closer to a zero waste kitchen! I HATE wasting food - don't you?

In case you are curious - I use it to make rice, soups, sometimes during lent it is the base for my lentil soup. How do you use it?

So, do you make your own stock/broth? Do you know anyone else that does? What do you always/never add to yours??