How and why you should make your own vegetable stock!
Welcome back to another Kiah’s Kitchen post!
Today’s post is kind of a recipe post, combined with a post about minimising waste, eating real food, frugal living and saving money. All my favourite topics in one!
So, making your own veggie stock. If you are reading my blog posts, I assume you eat plenty of fresh food and veggies (or you’re trying to). And I assume you are like most people (including myself) and don’t eat the WHOLE vegetable i.e. you peel your carrots and chop off the ends, you don’t eat the onion skin, you chop the ends off your zucchini, you chop the tops of your celery, you don’t eat the stems of your fresh herbs etc.
It’s not that these parts of the vegetable don’t contain nutrients, in fact they contain quite a lot, it’s just that they aren’t as desirable to eat. But what if there were a way you could get all of the nutrients and flavour out of these veggie scraps without eating them! After all, what else would you be doing with them, throwing them in the bin or in your compost? You may as well get the nutrients first!
AND while you are getting all of this delicious flavour and nutrition, you are minimising food wastage, saving money and avoiding processed food, packaging and preservatives. It’s a win all around.
If you need vegetable stock for your recipes, i.e. a soup, a stew, a curry, whatever it may be, you may be in the habit of simply purchasing this from the supermarket as part of your regular shop. What’s the problem with this?
Well firstly, it’ll cost you money sometimes around $4 or more depending on the brand and quality. Secondly, you have no control over the ingredients, I had a look at a couple of the better brands in Australia and have screen shot their ingredients below. Even these ‘organic’ or ‘100% natural’ marketed products contain things like sugar, glucose, sunflower oil, flavouring and maltodextrin.
You know what homemade veggie stock contains? WHATEVER YOU DECIDE TO PUT IN IT. There are not preservatives, no need for sugar, no processed vegetable oils, just pure vegetables and all their nutritious goodness!
Cost and nutrition aside, buying packaged products is of course contributing to plastic/environmental waste that can be completely avoided if you make your own stock.
OK, so assuming I have successfully convinced you to give making your own veggie stock a go, read on to learn how to do it!
To make your own veggie stock, you’ll first need to save up enough veggie scraps, the easiest way to do this is to have a container in your freezer, and every night when you cook dinner just add your veggie scraps to it, add your celery tops, your carrot peel, your leftover herbs, whatever it may be. You can put pretty much any vegetable in!
Once you have saved up around four – five cups worth of scraps, you’re ready to make your stock!
What you’ll need:
- A large pot
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 4-5 cups worth of vegetable scraps
- Any additional veggies/herbs for flavouring
- Glass jars to store your stock in
- A strainer
Making the stock:
- Add all of your veggie scraps to the large pot
- Add the bay leaves and any additional veggies/herbs for flavouring, I will usually crush some cloves of garlic with the side of my knife (no need to peel) and add them, along with an onion quartered (again no need to peel) and any other dried herbs or seasoning
- Fill the pot with water until all of the veggies are well covered and the water line is an additional 2-3 inches above the vegetables
- Season well with plenty of salt (and pepper if you wish)
- Place the pot over a medium – high heat and bring to a gentle boil
- Once boiling, stir and turn down heat to a low simmer, partially cover and let cook for 1-2 hours
- Once the stock has finished cooking, strain out the vegetables using a sieve and pour the golden liquid into glass jars
Storing the stock
There are a few options for storing, if you are going to use the stock during that week, the refrigerator is the best way to go. If you’re not going to use it (or all of it) during that week, freezing is best to keep it fresh.
To Refrigerate: Once you have poured the stock into jars, allow to cool then screw on the lids tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to five days
To Freeze: There are two options for freezing, pick the one that works best for you
- In jars: Allow stock to cool completely, ensure you are using freezer safe jars, leave at least and inch of space at the top of the jar for the liquid to expand as it freezes and leave the lid off until it has frozen then screw on tightly – defrost as needed
- As ice blocks: Once cooled, pour stock into silicone muffin tray moulds and freeze, once completely frozen you can pop them out into a container and store in the freezer so you can easily grab 1-2 frozen blocks of stock as you need it rather than defrosting a whole jar – they should not stick together as long as you are quick when getting them out of the moulds and back into the freezer in a container
Congratulations, you now have your very own, healthy, unprocessed, practically free, vegetable stock to use in your delicious cooking creations.
What to do with the veggie scraps you strained out of the stock? COMPOST THEM! While it isn’t recommended to compost cooked foods especially as they have added oils, fats and other ingredients, composting the plain boiled veggie scraps will be fine!
I will usually make a batch of veggie stock every two weeks or so and store in the fridge or freezer depending on when I am planning to use it. Perfect for soups, stews, curries, risotto, pasta sauce, casseroles, paella etc.
I hope this post has inspired you to give making your own vegetable stock a go, it is so easy, so healthy, will save you money, prevents unnecessary food waste and reduces the impact of single use packaging on the environment.
If you like these kinds of posts, feel free to subscribe to my blog via email so you receive a notification every time I publish something new. If you have any tips and tricks for minimising food waste and saving money in your kitchen, please feel free to share them in the comments below or over on my Instagram page, I’d love to hear from you.
Until next time, stay healthy and happy!