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Vegetable Stock

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Homemade broth isn't that hard and it's a great way to use veggies that are about to expire. And, given the inconsistency of store-bought broth, it's a tasty and healthy alternative. And way less salt. On the other hand, frozen broth is a pain to work with, especially if you only need half a cup, and it only lasts a few days in the fridge.

I decided to see if I could drastically reduce the broth and store it in a way that would be convenient for freezer use. And it actually worked. I made the broth as normal, strained it a couple of times, then boiled it. I made a gallon of broth, then boiled it down to about a quart. I strained it again and poured the contents into two ice cube trays and froze it.

Now, each 2 tablespoon cube of broth, and a little boiling water reconstitutes into 1/2 cup of broth. It's convenient, there's not much different in taste and, now I've got quality, healthy broth at my disposal whether I need a quart or a cup.

Vegetable Broth

Vegetable broth is just a matter of throwing whatever you have into a pot and boiling it. I will often times save broccoli stocks, leafy tops, peelings, etc in the freezer for use in broth. Here is a list of things that I typically use in broth.

Aromatics:
The core of any vegetable stock will be your aromatics (and carrots). All stocks should have onions and/or leeks, celery, carrots and garlic. These will add the bulk of the flavor and the carrots will contribute to the color. I will often saute these veggies in a little oil, but not always.

Greens:
This category usually consists of whatever I have in the fridge. Carrot or celery tops, trimmings, leafy greens, leaf lettuce, broccoli stems. Whatever. I've read that you should avoid anything from the cabbage family (broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, etc), but I don't. I usually have broccoli stalks and use them when I do.

Starches:
Potatoes, turnips, squash, etc. I like to add squash or pumpkin because it contributes to a more golden hued broth. Either way, add a few starchy veggies.

Herbs:
I always always add parsley, thyme and bay leaves. Other good additions would be sage, rosemary, basil, oregano, marjoram. Probably about any herb that you would see in Provincial or Italian cooking would be welcome additions. And you don't necessarily need the leaves. Stems are good too.

Flavors:

  • Tomatoes - add color and flavor, but also acid, I usually add a couple, but not too many.
  • Mushrooms - also welcome additions, just know that they will impact flavor, especially dried mushrooms. I usually won't add mushrooms unless I have some that I know I won't use.
  • Asparagus - again, know what you're adding. Every March, I look forward to asparagus flavored broth. I love it, especially for risotto, but it is different.
  • Cabbage - Cabbage family veggies are said to make stock bitter. I've never used cabbage, but I routinely use broccoli. Go figure.


And, my last batch of broth . . .

Vegetable Broth
6 stalks celery (lots of tops)
4 carrots
2 onions
2 cups squash
3 tomatoes
1/2 cup beans
1 bunch spinach stems
5 Quarts Water
6 sprigs thyme
1/4 bunch parsley
9 cloves garlic
10 peppercorns
4 bay leaves
2 cups mushrooms
Salt to taste

Peel and chop the onions and add to the pot of water. Wash and chop the other vegetables and herbs. Do not peel or skin any of the veggies, they can go into the pot as well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or more, but at least until the veggies are mushy.

Strain through a colander, smashing the veggies against the side to extract as much water as possible. Discard the vegetable matter and pour the broth through a fine mesh strainer. If you want, you can add salt, to taste, but I prefer to wait and salt the finished product instead.

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6 comments

  1. Thanks for the tips! I must admit, I have tried a few brands of veggie stock (all organic ones), and though I love veggies, I can't stand the broths. Perhaps homemade is the way to go.

     
  2. zlamushka Says:
  3. Great idea for the frozen veggie broth cubes. Smart :-) will try.

     
  4. Jenn Says:
  5. Good idea with the reduction. I'm so glad someone else is a stock fan! I make it all the time with leftover peelings, parts, and old veggies. I put konbu seaweed in mine with the bay leaves and peppercorns. It gives it a nice salty demension without tasting salty.

     
  6. I always ALWAYS have stock in my freezer. I've frozen them in ice-cube trays before and they were so handy for adding to a burger mix or a sausage mix.
    Stock is such a simple thing to have on hand - even if it's just the leftover water after steaming veggies.
    Great post Matt.
    :)

     
  7. Lantrix Says:
  8. Sounds great. I'll make up a batch today!

     
  9. Elizabeth Says:
  10. Thanks for so many great pointers! I now find it nearly impossible to put scraps into the compost when they'd be so perfect for broth. So far I've used mine to make potato leek soup and vegetable barley soup. The homemade broth was far superior to any store-bought broth.

     

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